The Role of Religious Leaders in Maintaining a Harmony in Papua – Papua is one of the provinces on the easternmost side of Indonesia which is rich in natural resources which makes it seen as a “little paradise” by many people. Since Papua returned to be part of Mother Earth, this region is still often in an unstable state to this day.

It takes a long diplomacy to maintain the land of Papua as part of Indonesia. Starting from the Round Table Conference to the confrontation by holding Operation Tri Komando Rakyat (Trikora) which succeeded in raising the Indonesian flag in Papua for the first time.

The struggle and hard work of the Indonesian people were paid off with the signing of the New York agreement, in which the Dutch handed over West Papua to Indonesia via the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority. In the end, West Papua entered Indonesia after the People’s Opinion (Perpera) was conducted in which some Papuans chose to join Indonesia.

The government considers the Papuan issue to have been completed from a historical context and has begun to focus on developing Papua, especially with the implementation of special autonomy. However, a few unscrupulous community groups continue and deliberately undermine social stability and security in the Papua region by always issuing the issue of SARA, violations of Human Rights (HAM) committed by security forces and exploitation of resources.

The group because it has an independent agenda, seeks to achieve their goals, even at the expense of the stability, security and comfort of the Papuan people, and spreads provocations so that people are not satisfied with the government.

The results of a survey released by the Center for Research, Development, Community Guidance, Religion, and Religious Services of the Indonesian Ministry of Religion on the index of religious harmony in Indonesia in 2019 showed West Papua and Papua as two regions that also received high scores related to Religious Harmony. This condition is Papua’s social capital that can be a force for integrating both religion and peace in the Papua region.

Religious leaders have an important role in maintaining religious harmony and intimacy, especially in Papua, the role of religion and figures is highly respected by the community. In this case, religious leaders must have a strategic role to deal with this kind of problem phenomenon, since religion should bring justice and happiness to its adherents.

However, it is very unfortunate that there are religious leaders who actually use religion to fight for their interests, not the interests of the people. They build an untrue narrative that created an unfavorable situation. The religious figures does not seem to care about the consequences of the narrative they build such that it will make his congregation feel the unfavorable situation.

In this regard, it is necessary from religious leaders, both from Papua and other parts of Indonesia, to criticize the statements of religious leaders who are making efforts to undermine stability in Papua.

Author: Khariri Makmun (Director of Moderation Corner Jakarta)

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