Following the latest hostage-taking mayhem in West Papua, a prominent name from the separatist movement has made a big move, denying the occurrence of the highly violent incident in a rather light manner.
The local media reported that a group of school teachers and medical workers were held as hostages in Nduga district for two weeks earlier this month. Antara News reported all 15 civilians held in Mapenduma village were released on October 17 and flown out of Nduga. One female teacher was reportedly raped by members of the armed group and hospitalised after her release.
In an interview shortly after the release, Akouboo Amatus Douw, a Liberation Army spokesperson, said reports of hostage taking and rape were false. He said that the Liberation Army held a meeting in Mapenduma earlier this month where teachers and medical workers suspected of working for the Indonesian military were “kept quiet”. Douw said this was only for a few hours and denied it amounted to hostage taking.
As a matter of fact, around 100 school children in Mapenduma could no longer access education after the incident. The Papua police chief Inspector General Martuani Sormin has recently confirmed this situation. Between January and August 2018 there have been 18 shootings by OPM, an armed separatist group in Papua and West Papua, most probably the biggest in Indonesia. In total, 20 have died in the hands of OPM between January and August 2018, including 6 civilians. Judging from the circumstances, the death toll is likely to increase.
In the middle of ongoing investigative and curative operations by the joint forces of Indonesian police and military, OPM, now known as TPNPB or the Liberation Army, had just made a declaration which stated their further intention of increasing its nationwide presence in Indonesia. The declaration stated their plan to organize a national civil strike, among other action points. It is still unclear on how the Liberation Army is going to mobilize the mass.
We are still waiting for updates from the police authority regarding the current situation in Papua, especially Nduga district. The latest heads-up was that the police are speeding up the establishment of a new police station for the Nduga district.