Tag Archives: divide and rule

HRD Analysis on Oksibil-West Papua Armed Conflict

by Solidarity for Indigenous Papuans

Conflict Background in Oksibil

The armed conflict in Oksibil area is the continuation of the struggle for West Papua freedom started in the 1960s and maintained by West Papua people under Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) Free Papua Movement up to date. Oksibil conflict cannot be minimized down to view the conflict from a single spot; it has to be looked at from the whole West Papua conflict being maintained in several regencies within West Papua. The OPM has its military wing, the West Papua National Liberation (WPNLA/TPNPB-OPM) which has 33 command posts throughout the region aspire to maintain the armed struggle in every part of West Papua. The Ngalum-Kupel Comand is the 15th Command post under the leadership of General Alipki Lamek Taplo based in Oksibil.

The Star Mountain people were the latest contacted people by the Netherlands Government in 1959. The short contact did not last long because Indonesia had to take over the territory by 1963. In 1969 act of free choice, the representatives from Oksibil protested strongly in Wamena resulted in their leader Katkotweng Uropkulin excluded from participation in the vote. He was locked up in a confined room until the whole process was completed. He was released later and returned to Oksibil where he helped organized the resistance movement in the community.

In the 1970s his son Karel Uropkulin took over the leadership and led most of the people into the jungles between Papua New Guinea and West Papua maintaining the freedom struggle. Some went to live in refugee camps in Papua New Guinea while others maintained their positions in the jungles and fight Indonesian military with bows and arrows. The people of Oksibil still maintained their position to date because Indonesia does not want to resolve the conflict peacefully. Stories from other places are similar to what is happening in Oksibil, Indonesia does not have a formula to address the conflict in West Papua in general. The armed conflict is likely to continue as long as Indonesia is in West Papua.

Existing Politically charged groups in Oksibil

The existing pro-independence groups in Oksibil reflect the general situation in Papua. Groups include West Papua National Committee (KNPB), West Papua Interest Association Group (WPIA), and Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) group. United Liberation Movement for West Papua group is establishing their residency in the regency in 2020, not many members in this group. Most of these groups are advocating for independence through peaceful means except for OPM. The OPM has many sympathisers and emphasis is often placed on armed struggle.

On the other hand, the Indonesians set-up proxy groups and spy networks in Oksibil which include the Barisan Merah Putih (Red and White Group), Soranda group, KNPI (Indonesian youth wing) and the descendants of voters in the act of free choice. They set up spy network from Oksibil into outer districts. Most of them posted as teachers and health workers. The established narratives in the local community led to the current destruction of health and education facilities in the Kiwirok district.

This photo is posted on Facebook by Piltap Bawi a member of the Soranda Group. The group in the photo is seen standing with bows around their flag (Sangsaka Bengerim) and Indonesian Red and White flag. The group appears to be a cult group without national ideology existing only in Oksibil. Indonesian Intelligence (KOPASUS) often deal with them to give them false hopes about independence in return the Soranda group provide insights on OPM and other groups in the Oksibil area. The group is similar to the cult around Benny Wenda and his ULMWP group who declare himself president enjoying his leadership in dreams while the conflict is still going on in West Papua. Soranda group is also like ULMWP cult but they have their own flag, not Morning Star.

Capture of two WPNLA members in District Batom Star Mountain Regency

On the 6th of September 2021, two members of TPNPB-OPM were captured in Batom District assisted by the members of Soranda Group and local government officials. The two members have five firearms including live bullets bought in Papua New Guinea. They were crossing the border along the head waters of the Sepik River near Green River district of Papua New Guinea when the local people (members of Soranda group) spotted them and reported to the Indonesian military base in district Batom.

It was the first time that the OPM bought firearms from Papua New Guinea and the OPM leaders expected the local people to keep quiet but the local people sided with the Indonesians. The OPM leaders have vowed to kill whoever is on the side of Indonesian military including the civilians both local and migrants. The capture of the two members of OPM-TPNPB was due to the local people’s involvement in the spy network of Indonesia. That is the reason behind the destruction of public facilities in Kiwirok and also set fire to the heavy equipment in district Oksop. To make the people feel the effect of what it takes to lose something you fought hard to acquire. It is sort of revenge by the OPM which the conflict is likely to continue because all the politically charged groups are somehow interconnected within the conflict.

Above: Julian Uopmabin (right), Kapol Uopmabin (left) were the two members of TPNPB-OPM captured with firearms in Batom District Star Mountain Regency on 6th Sept. 2021. They are in Jayapura prison awaiting their trial and sentencing.
Above: Firearms captured from the two members of the OPM-TPNPB. For the last 50 years conflict in West Papua, the OPM have no outside support for arms and other logistics. It has somehow managed to survive for the last 50 years.

Special Autonomy and Development: OPM’s point of view

Anything that smells like the expired Special Autonomy Policy reminds West Papuans of the past 20 years of misery. They do not want to entertain any of it after the expiration date. Indonesian government extended the special autonomy without consulting the Papuans on 15th July 2021 in the Indonesian Parliament. West Papuans have rejected it and have been expecting changes but no changes are coming their way.

The OPM under the leadership of Lamek Taplo has published an ultimatum recently that they will burn the development facilities of the Indonesian government under the Special Autonomy policy. They also warned immigrants to move out of conflict zones, any of them found in the conflict zone is considered as spies. Following the announcement, the OPM first burned the machines in district Oksop and later into Kiwirok district. Most of the stories with regard to destruction of properties and public facilities are found in the Indonesian media.

Above: The burning machines along trans-Papua highway in district Oksop, 9th Sept. 2021. The equipment was destroyed by the OPM-TPNPB members.

Above: 13th Sept. 2021, photo above is at district Kiwirok and Okhika. In Okhika the Indonesian military targeted the residence of Papuans because they suspected that most members of the OPM are from district Okhika. The OPM burned the public facilities in Kiwirok district. The Indonesian media projected the blame only on OPM but that is not true, TNI and Police also burnt down residential homes for Papuans in several villages in Okhika district.

West Papua National Liberation Army’s position on the armed conflict

The WPNLA’s position has been that war against the Indonesian government will be there until Indonesia withdraws entirely from West Papua. In a recently released statement, they stated that; “the fight has historical significance based on United Nations Resolution 1514 of 14th December 1960 on the granting of independence to colonial peoples and territories and its subsequent resolutions. West Papua still remains to be the unfinished business of United Nations Decolonisation program of the 1960s of which the fight to reclaim that freedom is justified under the International Law.

The OPM is open to negotiate with Indonesia to resolve the conflict peacefully, but it has to be mediated by an international neutral third party. The Indonesian concept of national dialogue and peace negotiation simply cannot work; West Papuans have grown thick skins to Indonesians mistreatments with regard to the subject of peace negotiations.

Indonesian Government’s Official Position on the armed Conflict

The Indonesian government maintained their position throughout the conflict that there is no war or armed conflict in West Papua, the government has been engaging in a law enforcement program (peneggagkan hukum) to apprehend the armed criminal groups that killed the health workers and destroyed road construction equipment and other facilities to be brought to justice. The government termed the operation as “Operasi kemanusiaan”/Humanitarian Operation to serve those people who are terrorised by the armed criminal groups. This position has been maintained since 2018.

They claimed that Police are doing their job and military is assisting the police to keep the law and order in Papua region. They simply brush aside any talk of peace with the so called armed criminal groups in Papua. They aspire to crush the armed criminal groups militarily and achieve peace in Papua. The Indonesian government has recently categorized OPM as a terrorist organization aspires to force neighbouring countries and the UN to follow suit.

For the traumatised civilians in Papua, Indonesian government devised what they called “wining heart and mind strategy” to calm the Papuan public, discourage them to join the OPM or even assist them to fight against Indonesia. Military in schools, churches including the so called ‘trans-Papua road project and the extension of the Special Autonomy package is part of the strategy. The government interpret the conflict in Papua from the development aspect which is far away from addressing the conflict.

Active conflicts elsewhere in West Papua

The armed conflict is still active in Yahukimo, Puncak, Nduga, Intan Jaya and current eruption in Maybrat regency in the bird’s head region of the island (see attached brief report). We also have other existing environmental destruction in Timika and Merauke regencies (see report attached).

The Special Autonomy issue is still active and Papuans are expected to do demonstration against the policy throughout major towns in Papua .

Indonesian Government’s methods of resolving the conflict

Indonesian government has always been reluctant to resolve the conflict; its actions are conducted in such a way that conflict in Papua has to be maintained and resources are exploited cheaply. Indonesia has been applying Band-Aid strategy narrowing conflict down to specific conflict spots and send in military to apply scotch-earth strategy to wipe out the population in the identified area. The strategy is keeping the conflict going throughout Papua because; it has displaced thousands of people and destroyed homes and properties worth millions.

Appeal to the international community

West Papuans are really dying; they need assistance from the international community. The conflict will last for ages here in West Papua as long as Indonesia is in West Papua. We are appealing to the international community to put pressure on the governments and international organizations to urge Indonesia to resolve the conflict through peaceful means. The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders (PIF) and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) leaders have been addressing the issue. We hope that the international community put their respective governments on notice to respond to West Papua conflict based on the principle of Responsibility to Protect.

KNPB pleads for international security (force) to prevent ongoing conflict in Timika

October 8, 2012

Timika Conflict Report by Steven Itlay [Chair KNPB Mimika]

Analysis – edited by West Papua Media

Since the civil war broke out on June 2, 2012 in Timika,West Papua the number of victims among the indigenous people continues to grow. Freeport Indonesia Pty Ltd, the army, police and Government of Indonesia have not been able to resolve this insignificant dispute. They have allowed and indeed fostered this civil war.

As a result, at the time of this report (5/10), scores of lives have been lost and many (people) wounded. According to monitoring, the majority of the victims were hit by arrows; however a number were also shot dead by Indonesian Police. Yet others have disappeared as the result of “lightning” (speedy) killings by certain criminal elements. The Government of Indonesia and Freeport have not been able to resolve the conflict; therefore the (local) people are demanding an international security force to protect their lives.

The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Mimika has been monitoring this situation, and has come to the conclusion that the civil war between clans has been allowed (to occur) by the Indonesian government and Freeport. The situation is trending towards genocide, and the Indonesian authorities – with the American corporation which is established on the Amungsa land – are deliberately permitting genocide in Timika, West Papua.

Chronology of the civil war

The civil war began from a misunderstanding which occurred since May 20, 2012 in Timika, Papua. In the beginning an incident occurred between Ronny Ongomang and Aroki Komangal. (Ronny Onggomang was the son of Hosea Onggomang and Aroki Komangal was the son of Atimus Komangal). At 4.00 p.m. Aroki called Ronny at his house and invited him to go for an evening ride, and .took the streets in the afternoon. The two went out, each using his own motorcycle heading along Old Freeport Street, next to Timika Airport. They sat down and began drinking (liquor).

Not long after that, a youth named Oni Kerembo who had just finished bathing at the side of Old Freeport Street was starting up his motor cycle, was suddenly hit by Ronny Ongomang who was crossing the road with his friend Mickieto while giving a ride on the back of his bike at high speed, despite being affected by alcohol.

After the collision with Oni, Ronny could still stand, and panicking, mounted his motorcycle and sped off about 1 kilometre, stopping at the side of a ditch by the road. According to police information, Ronny fell (from his bike) there and died suddenly (from his injuries). At the same time Oni Kerembo suffered broken bones and was rushed to Mitara Community Hospital RSMM Karitas for treatment.

The following day (21 May 2012), around 8.00 a.m, a citizen discovered the body of Ronny Onggomang in the ditch at the side of the road where he had fallen. The citizen immediately contacted the police, Polantas (traffic) section, and the body was removed to the District of Mimika General Hospital (RSUD Mimika). His parents were notified and identified Ronny Onggomang’s body at RSUD.

On 22 May 2012, his body was buried at the house of his father Hosea Ongomang at Kwamki Narama, Mimika.

On 24-26 May 2012 in Mimika, the victim’s family together with police from Polantas carried out an investigation into Ronny’s death. The police from Polantas said that it was clearly an accident, but the victim’s family did not accept this because there were no signs of scratches or lacerations on the body.

On 29 May 2012, the family of the victim (who) were making accusations everywhere, invited all the elders (including) the father of Aroki Komangal to go at once to the Police, Polantas Section and request clear information on the case. Polantas stated that from their viewpoint it was clearly an accident and there was no perpetrator. However the family of the victim were not satisfied with the police explanation. As a result of this dissatisfaction the family accused Aroki Komangal as the murderer without evidence.

Atimus Komangal and Benyamin Kiwak head of the large Damal clan apologised to the victim’s family but they rejected the apology from the side of the accused, and they wanted to “seek proof in the field” with a traditional physical confrontation or war between the clans, according to traditional custom.

In this small case the police let things be and did not complete the handling of the matter in order that a civil war did not occur. But (by failing to intervene with conflict resolution before violence broke out) it was as if the police provided an opportunity for this war to happen in Timika.

On 2 June 2012 in Mimika Papua, a civil war broke out, The clan of Hosea Ongomang fought against the clan of Atimus Komangal. Finally there was a victim on the Hosea Ongomang side, identified as Deminus Ongomang.

On 5 October 2012, around 8.24 a.m., community leaders, church leaders and womens’ leaders, forcibly chased away the Indonesian police because the police only watched and deliberately encouraged the conflict in Kwamki Narama, even though victims were dying. One Amungme community leader said, “The government of Indonesia, and TNI/POLRI only come to show off in the in an area of conflict like this, because of the political and economic interests of their office. They never truly resolve problems in Papua, especially in the gold mine region of Timika.”

At 09.00 a.m. local time, all the police who were serving in the war area left that war area in shame. All members of community organisations, church groups NGOs and elders regard the Indonesian government army and police (TNI/POLRI) as being incapable, and have failed totally to calm the civil war in Timika.

To the present moment the war is continuing. The Indonesian police have not yet succeeded in calming the civil war. In fact the police are just busy providing security for Freeport Indonesia. They carry out arrests of KNPB activists in the streets. This war which has been encouraged prevents the people from engaging in (peaceful and legitimate free expression) activism. The citizens are afraid to oppose the arbitrary activities of the police.

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Above: Images from the horizontal conflict of 2012 in Mimika (Courtesy KNPB Mimika)
List of names of the victims (of the war) from 20 May to 5 October 2012
A. From the side of Hosea Onggomang
1. Roni Onggomang (16), died in ditch at side of the road, after motorcycle collision with Oni Kerombo .
2. Deminus Onggomang (30). Killed by an arrow, fired mistakenly by one of his friends.
3. Dominus Ongomang (32) shot dead by police officer in Mimika. Perpetrator: Brimob AKBP Denny Siregar S.IK of Batak descent.
4. Doni Onggomang (28). Shot dead by police. Doni had just seen his older brother Dominus shot by Kapolres (Police). Doni was angry and wanted to attack the Kapolres but he was also shot, by Adjutant Kapolres Abram, native of Jayapura.
5. Antelius Ongomang (24), Killed by arrow.
6. Aroki Tabuni (29). Killed by an arrow.
7. Pak Enos Murib (35). Killed by an arrow
8. Ibu (Mrs) Medina Wenda (24). Killed by an arrow in a plantation outside the battlefield.
9. Seki Tabuni (36). Killed by an arrow.
10. Kamoro Tabuni (30). Killed by an arrow.
11. Herry Tabuni (25). Chased and killed in the street.

B. Victims from Atimus Komanggal’s side
1. Parael Alom
2. Yanuarius Misimbo, killed in a plantation.
3. Nike Misimbo (10). killed in a plantation.
4. Ince Komangal (15). killed in a car.
5. Eterikus Beanal. Killed in a car.
6. Jhon Beanal (29). Disappeared, abducted by person unknown
7. Frans Beanal, (30). Disappeared, abducted by person unknown.
8. Pdt. (Reverend) Barnabas Komangal (57). Killed in family fight.
9. People seriously wounded; 12 men and 2 women, names not yet known.
10. Filemon Hagabal, (35). seriously wounded by an arrow.
11. Head of the Dama clan, Victim of bashing carried out by member of the police force, is now left with paralysis in his left leg and has broken ribs. At present still in detention in Polres Mimika Mil 32.
12. Other victims outside the warring clans, Bapak Tom Yarangga (45 years), Yaranggawas burned in a car (fire) carried out by a specially trained group. (Kelompok yang di lati Khusus?), up to now the murderer has not been identified by the police.
Bapak Nasyum killed by a specially trained person. To date police have not identified the murderer.

(WPM Comment: The “Specially Trained Group” or Orang Terlatih Khusus is a euphemism for terror squads of the Indonesian special forces Kopassus, who are believed to responsible for a massive campaign of shootings, stabbings, muggings and bombings against a variety of targets, blamed on highland Papuans, and engineered by design to discredit the civil resistance movement in Papua. Indonesia, and Kopassus, have used proxy militia and jihadist groupsthis as their standard operating procedure since the bloodbaths of the 1965 Coup.)