Tag Archives: proxy forces

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.

PARKOP LETTER TO PNG PM SOMARE: HALT TO POLICE OPERATION IN SANDAUN PROVINVCE.

Below is the full letter from PNG NCDC Governor Powes Parkop calling for Somare to immediately halt Operation Sunset Merona.  For bode fide media interview opportunities, and the copy of the original letter please contact West Papua Media at wpmedia_admin<at>riseup.net .

NATIONAL CAPITAL DISTRICT COMMISSION

Office of the Governor

Hon. Powes Parkop, MP

P.O. Box 7270, Boroko. NCD

CITY OF PORT MORESBY

 

 

Date        28th January 2011

Grand Chief Sir Michael T Somare GCL, GCMG, CF, CL, CH, KstJ

Prime Minister and Chairman of NEC,

Office of the Prime Minister,

Morauta House,

WAIGANI

National Capital District

 

Dear Prime Minister,

 

SUBJECT:    HALT TO POLICE OPERATION IN SANDAUN PROVINVCE.

 

I write to express my deepest concern and reservation against the on going Police Operation in the Sanduan or West Sepik Province otherwise known as Operation “Sunset Merona” .

Since the operation began, I have received many complaints from people in the Sanduan Province as to the conduct and focus of the operations. These Complaints have been received from ordinarily citizens in that Province but more particularly from West Papuan people who live in that Province either as refugees or traditional border crossers exercising their rights under the Border Agreement between the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and the Republic of Indonesia.

 

From the West Papuan people, I have received complaints of intimidations, harassment, houses being demolished and burnt, food gardens being destroyed and people being detained without being charged for a criminal or migration offence. Those arrested have included West Papuans who have comes to PNG as refuges and who have to fend for themselves due to lack of support from either the PNG Government or from the Office of the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees.

 

From the evidence and reports I have received and the from the conduct of the operation it has become obvious that this operation is targeted against West Papuan people either as refugees or suspect activist of the West Papuan struggle for independence. In this respect, while I acknowledged that as an Independent State, we are obliged to prevent our borders from being using as a sanctuary for people planning and conducting violent acts against another State, we also risked allowing ourselves to become involved in a dispute that we formally recognized as being the domestic affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. Worst still we will allow ourselves to be used by the Republic of Indonesia to suppress and intimidate West Papuan people from pursuing their legitimate struggle for independence.

 

Based on these reports and evidence, I appeal to your highest Office to immediately stop the operations as it is becoming obvious that our Government and therefore police are being used by the  Indonesian Government to harass and suppress suspected West Papua activist campaigning for Independence of West Papua. This is morally and legally wrong.

 

While the Government may not support the struggle of West Papuans people to self determination and independence, we have no right to suppress them or deprive them from exercising that right. The right to self determination is universally recognized rights recognized under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and under many United Nations Conventions. This right to self determination includes the right to bear arms and used armed struggle as a means to attain self determination. Many colonized people have used arms struggle as a means of exercising or realizing their rights to self determination where the colonial powers have denied them an opportunity to exercise that right peacefully. West Papuan people as a colonized people, deprived of peacefully exercising their right to self determination have the right to bear arms and used all other means to enable them to realize their rights to self determination.

 

There is no evidence to date to show that the West Papuan people are using our territory to conduct armed attack against the Republic of Indonesia.  The evidence to date shows that all armed attack conducted by West Papuan people has been conducted within the territory of the Republic of Indonesia. If its is an offence to peacefully advocate and support the rights of the people of West Papua to self determination and Independence, than I should be arrested too as I have been a long time advocate of West Papuan rights to self determination and independence. And there are thousands of Papua New Guineans who also support and advocate for the rights of West Papuans to self determination and independence.

 

I therefore urge you as Prime Minister and a person revered as a leader of Melanesian People and Pacific People to stop our police and security forces from being used as a tool of suppression at the behest of the Indonesian Government. I urge you to recommend to the Commission for Police to put an end to this operation and to release all West Papuan people who have been detained and to compensate those who have their houses and food gardens destroyed.

 

Further, Prime Minister, I urge you not to deport any West Papuan suspected of being involved in the independence struggle to the Republic of Indonesia. I draw in this respect the recent conviction of three members of the members of the Indonesian Military as a result of torturing of West Papuans. While there three men were convicted for a minor offence, the incident for which they charge was fully exposed in a video posted on the internet which was seen by the entirely international community. This incident confirms that while Indonesia is moving towards democratization, its armed forces are still involved in vicious acts of violence and torture against so called separatist. There is  no guarantee that any one deported to the Republic of Indonesia will safe or not subjected to torture or other forms of violence.

 

 

 

 

 

Due to public interest in this matter, I will be releasing copy of my letter to the public, including the media.

 

 

I look forward to you earliest reply.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

 

 

 

HON. POWES PARKOP LLB LLM MP

Governor and Member for NCD Provincial.