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President Joko Widodo Summoned The Churches Leader for National Christmast

JAKARTA - Only hours before leaving Jakarta for Papua to attend national Christmas celebrations, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo summoned the leaders of the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) and the Bishops Council of Indonesia (KWI) to get input on what should be addressed in Papua.

Jokowi will fly to Papua on Saturday morning to attend festivities in the province, despite calls from a number of church leaders in Papua for Jokowi to cancel his plan, in an expression of disappointment over the government’s slow response to the recent shooting incident in Enarotali, Paniai, in which five civilians were killed.

Jokowi is also set to undertake blusukan (impromptu visits) to hear from local residents during his two-night trip to the province.

During the Friday night meeting at the State Palace, Jokowi also met with representatives from two Papuan churches, Benny Giay and Karel Phil Erari, who rejected Jokowi's plan to visit Papua.

The PGI's Bambang Wijaya said the organization hoped that Jokowi's visit "will not merely be a ceremonial gesture, but will result in bringing peace to Papua, instead".

The PGI also submitted its findings on Paniai — which concluded that Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers were responsible for the shootings — to the President.

KWI chairman Mgr. Ignatius Suharyo said he urged Jokowi to listen to the voice of Papuans, particularly those who understood about matters related to Papua, such as Pastor Neles Tebay and his rights group, the Peaceful Papua Network.

"I am sure the President will meet our friends there [...] not to give a solution, but more to hear them. Because a solution without first hearing [the problems] will be a mess," Ignatius said on Friday after the meeting at the State Palace.

He added that he perceived that Jokowi's visit would be "a part of a dialog which aims to stop violence and to [encourage] reconciliation."

"The President said he has received much information, but it is not yet complete. Therefore he is acting cautiously in order not to add more pain, and to seriously start to build trust, because the problem is trust," he added.

Jokowi wants the incident to be investigated thoroughly, and intends to find solutions to Papuan matters in general, Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said.

"We have received the PGI's preliminary reports on Paniai," Andi said after the meeting. "For sure, tomorrow’s visit will be used by the President to really hear the voice of the Papuan people to bring about a peaceful Papua."

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has previously demanded that the government immediately set up a joint fact-finding team involving the national rights body, the TNI, the National Police and local leaders to probe the recent shootings in Paniai, after a Komnas HAM investigation confirmed soldiers were the primary cause.

The incident also resulted in injuries to 11 other local people, three policemen and seven soldiers.

Komnas HAM’s investigation has yet to identify whether the gunshots were fired by members of the police or the TNI, who were at the location for security reasons.

However, TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Fuad Basya has said that the TNI had yet to receive any requests from Komnas HAM regarding the matter. He added that the TNI had set up its own investigative team, which was still conducting an inquiry into the incident. [TheJakartaPost]

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