Pax Christi International write: It is with great sadness that Pax Christi International shares the news of the death of Fr Neles Tebay, a member of our International Board and the coordinator of the Papua Peace Network. Fr Neles, who suffered from bone cancer, had been in intensive care for the last few weeks at St Carolus Hospital in Central Jakarta. He died on Sunday, 14 April. He was 54.
"We have been deeply saddened to hear of the death of Fr Neles Tebay, priest of West Papua, committed advocate for justice and peace and member of the Pax Christi International Board," stated Kevin McBride of Pax Christi Aotearoa-New Zealand. "As we pray for the repose of his soul, we recall him in life, a cheerful companion, a committed champion of his people's aspirations for self-determination and at all times, a man of peace."
McBride, who had the privilege of working with Fr Neles in his struggle for peace for his people in his own land, went on to say that he saw first-hand "the trust his people put in him to represent them faithfully and with justice."
Fr Neles had also been a professor at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology in Abepura, a member of the Interfaith Forum for Religious Leaders, and a dedicated member of the Ecumenical Fellowship of Churches in Papua. For 10 years he actively contributed to weekly journal publications in Jayapura, West Papua, as well as in Jakarta, Indonesia.
"We are saddened to hear of the untimely demise of Pax Christi-Asia Pacific member Fr Neles Tebay, who was also part of PC-AP's Facilitation Team," wrote Jasmin Nario Galace on behalf of the Pax Christi-Asia Pacific regional network. "We thank God for Fr Neles' continuing contribution to peace and nonviolence in the world, especially by involving his Papuan community in negotiations within Indonesia. In his peace work, he emphasised the importance of dialogue in finding solutions to conflict."
Fr Neles had trained for various peacebuilding initiatives at the international level and was elected to be a member of the Advisory Council at the National Commission on Human Rights in Indonesia from 2013 to 2017. For many years he worked to bring an end to the long-running insurgency in Indonesia's easternmost region, Papua. In 2017, he met with President Widodo in Jakarta for the Papua-Jakarta dialogue to try and end the violence.
"Neles was a beautiful person who dedicated his life to achieving peace in West Papua," stated Pax Christi International Co-President Marie Dennis. "During his tenure on the Pax Christi International Board, our movement was blessed by the witness of an amazing peacemaker."
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