World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Update
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

7 April 1999


(For Indonesia: cf. WCC Press Release of 27 January 1999, WCC Press Release of 9 February 1999, and WCC Press Update of 4 March 1999)

The full text follows:

"Madam Chairperson,

The Commission of Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches would like to address the situation in Indonesia and Nigeria."


"The concerns expressed in the present statement on Indonesia reflect those of our delegation that visited the country 26 January to 4 February 1999.

Indonesia is presently experiencing a series of crises, each of which contributes and complicates the resolution of the others. There is an economic crisis, a political crisis, a crisis of credibility for authority structure both civil and military, a crisis of national cohesion in this archipelago of many cultures, a crisis of religious and ethnic tolerance. Clashes between demonstrators and military personnel, attacks on ethnic Chinese minorities, destruction of churches and mosques and Christian, Muslim clashes have resulted in gross human rights violations and loss of lives. The Indonesian authorities have done little to prevent these violations and bring those responsible before the courts of law.

In Irian Jaya, in the last thirty-five years since the process of integration began, over five hundred thousand Irianese have been killed at the hands of the military. There has been a comprehensive record of human rights violations - from denial of economic, cultural and religious rights, through to detention without trial, torture and extra judicial killings. The government continues to pursue its discriminatory policies and practices against the Irianese people. The military has indulged in ruthless repression of the people because of their demand to exercise the right of self determination.

The problems facing Indonesia are not only immense but also complex. The resolution of the conflicts taking place in various parts of Indonesia that have resulted in human rights violations depends on what steps the government will take to address the present crisis. These amongst others should include:

  • apprehension and trial of those involved in ethnic and communal violence.
  • the credibility of the forthcoming elections
  • expeditious resolution of the demands of the people of East Timor, Aceh and Irian Jaya
  • enactment of legislation giving greater autonomy for the provinces
  • change in conditions imposed by Indonesia’s international creditors, particularly by IMF
  • the national dialogue agreed by President B.J. Habibie should be expedited on basis of the demands, expectations and aspirations of the people of Irian Jaya.


"Madam Chairperson,

The Commission of Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches welcomes the recent elections in Nigeria and hopes this will usher in a period of democracy, justice and peace in the country.

The Nigerian people have suffered grave and serious violations of human rights for the last fifteen years under military dictatorship. These violations continue and have to be seriously addressed by the new government when it assumes power. The Commission of Churches on International Affairs is particularly concerned about the situation of the people in Ogoniland. This region has been subjected to serious environmental degradation at the hands of the international oil companies. The Ogoni people have not only suffered because of the damage done to their environment due to the operations of the oil companies but also, because of brutalization and repression suffered at the hands of the Nigerian security forces. Thousands of Ogoni people have sought sanctuary in neighboring countries to escape the wrath of the Nigerian military. These people still live in exile. Some languish in prisons within and outside the country without being brought to trial.

The Commission of Churches on International Affairs is concerned that the repressive Decrees promulgated by the previous regime still remain on the Statute Books, including State Security/Detention of Persons Decree #2. These must be repealed and all political prisoners must be released. There must be freedom of the press and of assembly. Further the military forces currently stationed in Niger Delta must be withdrawn and the people allowed to openly express their views without fear of reprisals.

Madam Chair, unless the government of Nigeria takes the above steps to redress the present situation the Special Rapporteur should continue to fulfill his mandate with respect to Nigeria.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson."

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6152 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.