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Bintang Papua: DPRP member calls for end to separatist stigma

Bintang Papua, 9 February 2011

[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]


The chairman of Commission A of the provincial legislative assembly, the DPRP, Ruben Magai, has called on the police chief to stop using political stigmatisation when conducting operations in Papua. Such statements, he said, result in scaring the indigenous Papuan people and trying to silence them.

These remarks followed a recent statement by a police officer [lower down, it is clear that the statement was made by the police chief] alleging that the OPM is present in the region of Degeuwo, on the border between Paniai and Nabire,. where security disturbances have recently occurred.

Regardless of whether the police have firm evidence, such statements are a form of character assassination, in a region that is known to have abundant natural resources where investors would be keen to invest, with the backing of the security apparatus.

‘This kind of thing is very bad and should be corrected,’ he said. ‘It is as if all the security disturbances are the work of separatists and have nothing to do with injustice. When the term separatism is used in Papua, it is clearly directed against the Papuans who live in the area.’

He warned of a high-level conspiracy by people in authority. All this makes the indigenous Papuans harbour feelings of hostility towards those who make such baseless statements. The term NKRI (Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia) should not be the exclusive property of people in officialdom. People throughout the territory , including those living in the interior, should be able to speak loud and clear about the NKRI.

But at a time when the state is engaged in a number of questionable activities, including acts of violence against the population in the interior as well as making all kinds of baseless accusations, such things can only spread a feeling of insecurity and anxiety for isolated communities in the interior who know very little about what is going on. ‘What they do know is that they are suffering from injustice as well as the consequences of development which have destroyed their natural resources.’

They are living without any guarantees for security in their old age, which is something that should be taken into consideration, he said.

The age-long problems will remain unresolved as long as the security forces pursue the approach of violence and intimidation, he said.


The Alliance of Intellectuals is also disappointed by the chief of police

Similar views have been expressed by the Alliance of Intellectuals of Suku Wolani Moni, who regret the statement made by the chief of police to the effect that the OPM has a base in Degeuwo.

An Alliance deputy chairmen, Tobias Bagubau, said that a week ago the chief of police promised that they would put an end to illegal logging in Degeuwo. ‘As a representative of the Wolani Moni people, I regret the police chief’s statement to the effect that the OPM is based in Degeuwo whereas in fact there are no OPM members in Degeuwo.’

He said that he thinks the police chief is playing a new game of distracting attention from all the unresolved problems. ‘Please stop making such allegations about the OPM in Degeuwo. What we want is for the problem of illegal mining to be halted,’ he said.

He said that he can’t stop wondering why the police chief is always making such statements which can only lead to widespread feelings of dissatisfaction and result in insecurity for the state.

‘If the OPM is indeed here, they should be arrested. After all, there are plenty of members of the security forces based here,’ he said.

OPM pledge to increase attacks against Indonesian forces

Please note: this is a repost of a Indonesian press report. West Papua Media Alerts makes no assertion as to its accuracy.

The separatist Free Papua Movement, which has been engaged in a low-profile armed resistance against the Indonesian presence in the province since the 1960s, on Thursday threatened to step up attacks against the government until Papuan independence was granted.

“We, the people of Papua, remain steadfast in our initial stand to safeguard the dignity of the Papuan nation by gaining independence,” Anton Tabuni, secretary general of the group, known as the OPM, said in a video released to journalists in Papua.

“The people of Papua will continue to struggle to secede from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia,” continued Tabuni, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of OPM commander Goliat Tabuni .

The video was released a day after armed men believed to be from the OPM ambushed and burned a convoy of three trucks carrying diesel oil and food in Pagargom, in the Tingginambut area of Puncak Jaya district.

“Whether civilians, plainclothes or uniformed security members, we will rid Papua of them,” Tabuni said.

The video also showed an OPM gathering in Tingginambut, believed to be a congress held by the organization on June 31. The meeting ended in a renewed resolve to fight for independence.

Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wahyono declined to comment, saying police had yet to see the video. “We have not watched the video, so we cannot comment on it,” Wahyono said. “But we are going to investigate it.”

Adrianna Elizabeth, a researcher of conflict areas at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said the government should not dismiss the threat, even though the OPM was not a heavily armed organization.

“Even if the social and economic conditions of Papuans improve, the OPM will always be there because it wants its political demands to be met,” Adrianna said, adding that OPM’s vast network had spread throughout urban and rural areas in the territory.

“Human rights are not being upheld in the province and we should also realize that the Papuan autonomy law has not been well implemented,” she said, citing possible reasons for the persistence of separatist aspirations in the province .

In a report released in March, the global think tank International Crisis Group warned that some elements of OPM were becoming increasingly militant.

It also said OPM and the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) — a group with its roots in the student movement — were likely behind the deadly attacks last year on workers near a mine run by a unit of Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold.

The ICG recommended broadening talks between Jakarta and Papuan leaders to address political, historical and economic grievances.

Meanwhile, police in pursuit of the perpetrators of Wednesday’s attack in Pagargom are concentrating on Tingginambut, known to be home to OPM’s central headquarters.

“Since [Thursday] morning, our officers have been hunting them, especially in the Tingginambut area,” Wahyono said, adding that a thick fog and the mountainous, thickly forested terrain were hindering the operation.

Wahyono said there were no plans yet to send reinforcements since the force already in Puncak Jaya was considered to be adequate. Papua Police have already deployed about 100 members of the elite Mobile Brigade (Brimob) to Tingginambut .