We, the 43 participants and guests at the fourth JPIC-Consultation, met from 10th to 17th February 2008 on the Island of Batam, Indonesia, to discuss missionary challenges to the churches in a changing world. We are grateful to the churches in Northern Sumatra (SEKBER) as well as the churches in Batam, who have hosted us and shared their lives with us.
Although we came from four continents, Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, with different political, social and economical backgrounds, we all experienced that we are confronted with a common reality of a world which, in a rapid and continual process of change, is widening the circle of marginalized and suffering people worldwide. This phenomenon which has come to be codified as globalization with the understanding that it should offer humankind better opportunities for the improvement of its living conditions, has instead generated factors that rather threaten its existence.
In the sharing of our experiences, we realized that, since globalization has to do with international trade, it has often been linked with criminal activities. It is the unquestioned dominance of neo-liberal thinking that leads to poor labour conditions and threatens the life and wellbeing of people all over the world. We observe violations of human rights within the countries of our members, but also in the world at large, e.g. in Darfur / Sudan or Pakistan. In conflict stricken countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua / Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, multinational companies have made a lot of profit by either legal or illegal exploitation of natural resources and by arms trade. Also, not only people in developing countries are being victims of globalization. 62% of the population of such an affluent country like Germany feel that their near and long-term future is insecure. Life for ordinary people is increasingly hard and does not offer equal chances. UEM for the last years, together with other ecumenical bodies, has given special attention through its programs on economic justice. UEM members have also addressed the issue of globalization at different levels in their synods and church boards. In so doing, the church stands against any economic system which causes the majority of the population to “live from the breadcrumbs falling off the table of the rich”. The participants call upon the churches to continue the process to develop a new model of an economy in the service of life.
We are all affected, in different ways, by the present unjust economic system. For example, refugees are finding it increasingly difficult to get into Europe due to protective European asylum policy and the brutal presence of police and military at the EU-borders. As a communion of churches in UEM we express our solidarity with those who suffer under the consequences of this globalize changing world in the different regions where we come from. That is why we decided to come to Batam, in order to witness to our brothers and sisters subjected to economic exploitation by multinational and national companies seeking for low cost labour. During our various visits, we encountered people, mostly young boys and girls between 18 and 24 years of age working as casual labourers in unacceptable conditions. Coming from impoverished families, they fear dismissal and therefore remain loyal to their employers and outsourcing companies, despite the fact that their rights are constantly violated. We saw cases of people who had been trafficked and who finally were abandoned to their own fate without the work offered to them, often under false promises. Also women and even young girls and boys who have been dismissed and now find themselves in commercial prostitution threatened by HIV / AIDS. We encountered pollution of water in Batam, deforestation, untreated sewage and hasty and badly coordinated development. Due to massive and widespread corruption practices in the society, government authorities fail to monitor and enforce labour law and environmental standards.
We appreciate that the churches in Batam have become more aware of the special needs of the victims of these developments and the laborors themselves already started to stand up for their rights. We hope and encourage the churches to respond to this situation by concrete action, setting up programs addressing the challenges described above.
God wills a society in which all can exercise full human rights. The human being, male and female, was created in God´s own image, blessed and made co-responsible with God for creation (Gen 1:26-28). Dr. Soritua A.E. Nababan What was true is still true today: God suffers with the people whose human rights’ are violated, whether these are (…) political and civil rights (…) or socio-economic rights which are violated by poverty, economic injustice, HIV and AIDS etc. Dr. Zephania Kameeta
We believe the commitment to protect human dignity, the dignity of creation and to promote human rights is basic to the life and the mission of the church. It is an integral part of our work for justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Every human being, male and female, is created in God’s image, beloved unconditionally and made co-responsible with God for creation. Therefore, we affirm the dignity of each human being as a gift of God. We are called to recognise this gift, uphold the dignity of every human being and actively work for its protection. We reject the false opinion that dignity comes from a specific status in society or from human achievement. Consequently, we reject all practices that discriminate or oppress others socially, economically, culturally and politically, or on the basis of religion.
In order to protect human dignity and to prevent discrimination and oppression the international community has adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, followed by further human rights treaties and conventions. We recognize that these civil and political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights are indispensable legally binding universal norms to protect human dignity. In the Scriptures we find the commitment to safeguarding freedom and justice through law. The story of God liberating his people from slavery in Egypt and then giving them the Ten Commandments is paradigmatic in that respect: Freedom and dignity given by God is to be ensured by law. Furthermore, a special emphasis is put on protecting the rights of the stranger, the widow and the orphan, i.e. the marginalized and vulnerable in society. Consequently, those in power are strongly criticized when they violate or pervert the rights of these people: “Woe to those who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans your prey!” (Isaiah 10:1-2) As churches we take up this prophetic call, to protect the most vulnerable today and to seek effective legal and political protection of their rights.
We are convinced that human rights work is an integral part of our call to reach out to and love our neighbor. To serve our neighbor involves not only to give diaconal help when somebody is in immediate need, but to also to look at the root causes why people are suffering. This means looking at the socio-economic, environmental, cultural and political structures that cause suffering and to actively work at overcoming these structures. It also means to work with the people suffering and not for them. Our aim is to uphold the dignity of each person by ensuring freedom, justice and participation.
To promote human rights is an integral part of our witness to this world. Being the light of the world and salt of the earth, we commit ourselves to be critically and constructively involved in our societies, and we are convinced that human rights work is an appropriate way to do so. We recognize the obstacles posed by the lack of capacity or willingness of governments to enforce laws and protect human rights, as well as by certain parts of church structures and practices. We seek to overcome these obstacles. We are motivated and empowered to do so by Jesus’ words: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6).
1. To expose and fight corruption in and outside the churches at all levels.
2. To employ at least one pastor specialized in industrial ministry and a legal advisor to serve laborers in Batam as part of ecumenical institution to address the needs of laborers such as labor rights, counseling, advocacy and pastoral care.
3. To support the Association of One in Mission (PSDM) in Batam in its programs. The PSDM is encouraged to cooperate with others in their programs.
4. To train all pastors in Batam to address the needs of laborers through their work in the parishes.
5. To establish platforms amongst the congregations for the workers for exchange of experiences and voicing their concerns and demands.
6. To support the existing labor newspaper (“Koran Buruh”) in Batam as one of the voices of the voiceless, by financial support and assisting the empowernment its staff through training.
7. To provide shelters and care for victims of trafficking, migrant workers and permanent workers in need.
8. To build awareness on environmental issues and to protest against ruthless exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of the environment (e.g. to conduct a special worship and annual offering on JPIC issues).
9. To do comprehensive study regarding the sustainability of the present development of Batam and its impact on environment.
10. To lobby and advocate local government regarding the policies and law enforcement on different issues of human rights and the environment.
11. To work together on JPIC issues with NGO’s and other FBO’s (faith based organizations) which have similar goals e.g. PRAI.
To address the issues of human trafficking and prostitution as new areas of mission.
Rekomendasi khusus untuk gereja-gereja anggota Sekber UEM di Batam :
1. Mengungkap dan menghapus korupsi di dalam dan di luar gereja di semua tingkatan.
2. Menempatkan paling tidak seorang pendeta yang khusus melayni masyarakat industri dan seorang penasehat hukum guna melayani jemaat di Batam sebagai bagian dari upaya lembaga oikumenis memenuhi kebutuhan buruh seperti hak-hak pekerja, konseling dan advokasi, juga keperluan pastoral lainnya.
3. Mendukung program Perkumpulan Satu Dalam Misi (PSDM). PSDM diberdayakan bekerjsama dengan lembaga lain menyelenggarakan program kegiatannya, melalui jemaat-jemaat yang ada.
4. Membangun pemahaman bersama di antara jemaat untuk kerjasama pertukaran pengalaman dan menyurakan keperluan dan kebutuhan para pekerja.
5. Mendukung keberadaan “Koran Buruh” di Batam sebagai satu ’suara kaum tak bersuara’ melalui dukungan pendanaan dan pemberdayaan staf dengan cara pelatihan keterampilan.
6. Menyediakan rumah singgah (shelters) bagi para korban perdagangan manusia, pekerja migran dan pekerja tetap yang membutuhkannya.
7. Membangun kesadaran tentang lingkungan hidup dan melawan penghancuran sumber daya alam (misalnya melakukan kebaktian khusus dan kolekte tahunan untuk isu-isu KPKC/JPIC).
8. Menyelenggarakan studi perbandingan tentang pembangunan berkelanjutan di Batam dan dampaknya bagi pembangunan.
9. Melakukan lobi dan advokasi kepada pemerintah dan penegakan hukum untuk isu yang berbeda dalam Hak Asasi Manusia dan Lingkungan Hidup.
10. Bekerja sama dalam isu JPIC/KPKC dengan organisasi non pemerintah dan organisasi keagamaan lainnya, yang memiliki tujuan yang sama, seperti PRAI.
Mengemukakan bahwa perdagangan manusia dan pelacuran adalah wilayah baru misi pelayanan kita.
As representatives of churches in the UEM Communion of Churches in three Continents, we recommend the following:
To the members of UEM:
1. We encourage church leaders to continue the implementation of the previous UEM decisions on JPIC, especially establishing a JPIC Desk or similar adequate structures / bodies and providing personnel, facilities, budget and programs. JPIC must remain a priority for the churches and needs adequate funding.
2. Furthermore we encourage the UEM members to promote JPIC issues at all levels, facilitate local JPIC projects and to provide direct assistance for the victims of human rights’ violations and of the HIV / AIDS pandemic.
3. We encourage the members to uphold human rights within the church and to seriously address human rights violations in their own constituencies.
4. We call the members to fight corruption and violence in and outside the churches and to develop own codes of conduct in compliance with the UEM “Code of Conduct against Corruption and for Transparency” and the UEM “Code of Conduct against Sexual Harassment”.
5. We encourage the members to make use of the already existing networks and mechanisms and to put pressure on the local, national and global private and governmental players to comply with existing laws and regulations.
6. We encourage all members to reach out to and network with other actors of civil society at all levels with the aim of establishing a forum for all stakeholders (government, employers, workers and trade unions, religious organizations and NGO’s) to address JPIC issues.
7. We encourage the members to relate to already existing ecumenical networks and think-tanks where the unjust economic, social and political structures, policies and practices are critically discussed and alternatives developed.
8. We ask the members to make more use of the talents of their members to address JPIC issues, including empowering workers in defending their rights.
9. We encourage the members to develop a ministry that shall help members of the churches engaged in the economic, political and in other influential sectors of our countries to be equipped with a holistic understanding of the Christian faith including ethical issues.
10. We ask the members to include human rights and conflict management in the curricula of church education, beginning from the Sunday schools to theological seminaries.
11. We ask the members to initiate projects with the communities aiming at the eradication of poverty, the reinforcement of the existing micro-credit unions, the setting up of appropriate measures for the improvement of food security and for the promotion of other approaches such as the Basic Income Grant.
12. We encourage the members to take up appropriate measures to protect the environment and to mitigate global warming.
13. We encourage UEM members to expect their own governments to exercise their duty to uphold the rights of their citizens, and – in the events of the occurrence of gross violation of human rights in the countries where UEM members exist – to bring to justice the perpetrators, e.g. in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Papua / Indonesia and the Great Lakes Region of Africa. (hp,-)