On the eve of the Third Papuan Congress, there are differences of opinion between those who support it and those who are opposed. The commander of the TPN/OPM – National Liberation Army/Papuan Independence Movement, Lambert Pekikir has strongly rejected the congress.
According to Pekikir, the congress will not solve the problem. The TPN/OPM only supports secession from the Indonesian Republic. Speaking frankly in an interview with Bintang Papua, Lambert Pekikir said that the two previous congresses had not produced any results. ‘The first congress produced nothing while the second congress also produced nothing and was later followed by the law on special autonomy. So what’s the use of having a third congress?’ he said.
When Lambert Pekikir was approached by Bintang Papua, he was holding a ceremony with about fifty members of his army, all of them bearing arms. He said that the TPN/OPM was involved in a tireless struggle during which much blood has been shed and many lives have been lost. He said that this struggle would continue and described the congress as a mistake. ‘What the people want,’ he said, ‘is independence. Participation in the congress is a mistake.’
According to Pekikir, ‘Independence is the answer to the deaths, the blood and tears shed up until now . We have suffered for a very long time, the situation has been very difficult for us, so dont try to deceive us with cheap tricks. Our struggle will lead to freedom and the congress cannot answer this.’
He said that the OPM and its military forces reject all offers made by the Indonesian NKRI government in any efforts to solve the political conflict in the land of West Papua.
In a separate article, Bintang Papuan describes its meeting with Lambert Pekikir as follows:
Following the news that the Third Papuan Congress would be held, those who are living in the jungle at the TPN/OPM headquarers and along the border invited Bintang Papua to visit them in the jungle.
In this connection, I along with two other journalists met Pekikir to hear his views regarding the congress.
The following is a description of the journey we took to meet him.
/By Bento Maduban/.
The name of Lambert Pekikir is well-known to people in Jayapura and throughout Papua, and in particular to the security forces. He is known for the series of actions he and his men have launched in Jayapura and along the RI-PNG border as well as in Keerom and in Serui although Pekikir denies some of this.
‘He’ a friendly guy,’ said a journalist colleague who met Pekikir some time ago.’It was several years ago so I dont know whether he has changed since then.’
We set off on our journey at crack of dawn. We first travelled in a vehicle and after two hours, we got down from the vehicle and entered an area by foot that I had never been to before. We walked through thick high grass – /imperata cylindrica -/ going uphill and through forests.
There were four men who we did not know walking ahead of us, guiding us through the thick forest and two armed men appeared behind us, keeping watch over the path we had taken.. ‘Please talk very softly,’ said one of the men in front. We walked on for about one more hour after which one of them said, ‘It’s only another kilometre.’
Walking with six men who I didn’t know, two of whom were armed was scary, but our fears were overwhelmed by our desire to hear what Pekikir wanted to say to us. We had been invited to meet Pekikir who wanted to tell what he thought of the congress which was due to start on 16 October.
Soon we came face to face with a heavily bearded man, carrying a weapon by his side. ‘Welcome! I hope you have had a pleasant journey,’ he said as he shook our hands in a firm grip, smiling broadly. We were invited to continue to walk with the commnder of the Victoria command. ‘You must be very tired after your journey,’ he said, laughing.
This fellow has a sense of humour, I thought after we introduced ourselves . ‘Let us have a smoke together,’ he said as he invited us to sit down. ‘We have often spoken by phone,’ I said. ‘I am from Bintang Papua and now at last I have been able to meet you, Uncle Lambert.’ He replied with a broad smile and nodded.
After a few minutes, he shouted something that must have been in code for suddenly from behind the trees and grass surrounding us, emerged dozens of armed men. This came as a huge surprise to us as we had no idea there were so many armed men around. This was a very successful move .’They are on picket duty,’ said Lambert.
The fifty or so men marched in line before their commander as he stood taking the salute, with two men on each side, both bearing arms. Another man standing in the middle was holding aloft the Morning Star flag which was 2m x 3m in size and was tied to a pole that was four metres long. Standing in front was a man who was the master of ceremony.
This meeting which is being held to explain the opinion of the OPM and its military wing will start with a prayer,’ said the master of ceremony. The prayer was recited by Lambert Pekikir, after which our discussions began. As this was going on, I thought to myself: ‘What an amazing ceremony, deep in the forest.’
Then, Lambert Pekikir read out the following statement:
‘As fighters for an Independent Papua who have struggled for many years with our military force, we of the Tentara Pembebasan Nasional/ Papua Barat declare: the following: (1) We firmly reject any offers from the Indonesian government to resolve the political conflict in the land of West Papua, (2) We reject and do not recognise the Third Papuan Congress which will open on 16 October.’
Other things were then mentioned by Pekikir such as the recent shooting in Nafri and along Abe Coast. His further remarks will be reported in our next report.
[Translated by TAPOL]
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