Church Says Papua Riot Sparked by Military Burning Bibles

West Papuan protesters shout slogans as they are taken away on a police truck under armed police escort Thursday during a rally calling for the remote region's independence, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo: Dita Alangkara / Associated Press

JAKARTA — A major church in Indonesia’s predominantly Christian Papua province says a riot in the provincial capital last month was sparked by the military burning Bibles, contradicting the police account of events.

A report by the Evangelical Christian Church in Papua says a priest and another man from a local congregation took photos of burnt Bibles at a military base in Jayapura and took several away as evidence.


It says they tried to calm the crowd that gathered outside the base on May 25 after reports of Bible burning spread on social media.

At the time, police said soldiers burned rubbish and distributed photos of a burned book on theology that they annotated with text saying “this is not the Bible.”


Three protesters suffered gunshot wounds when police dispersed the crowd.