The widely known separatist organization (Free West Papua) from West Papua, KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua Barat), recently held a congress and published a resolution containing several notable points. Aside from announcing Agus Kossay as the head of KNPB, they also issued calls to action, which are provocative, to put mildly.
A call for a national workers’ strike and to strengthen the separatist military wing, OPM/TPNPB.
KNPB issued a call to mobilize people for a national civil strike, which is intended to paralyze the whole economy in West Papua. While It is not clear how the strike will be conducted, the precedenting records have shown that KNPB and its military wing OPM/TPNPB are violent in every of their actions, more often than not. Between January and August 2018 there have been 18 shootings by OPM, an armed separatist group in Papua and West Papua, Indonesia. In total, 20 have died in the hands of OPM between January and August 2018, including 6 civilians.
Having firearms in possession, it is concerning that OPM/TPNPB is going to create a public mobilization of any kind. In order for the mobilization to fully succeed, there must be a significant consequence for those who are not willing to participate in the mobilized civil strike, either psychologically or physically. As a direct consequence, KNPB also made a request to the West Papuan for their recognition of TPNPB as the official military wing of West Papua. TPNPB frequently seize firearms from police and military personnel who went down during their duties, and utilize it to ambush the soldiers.
KNPB was established by its founder, Buchtar Tabuni, within an anti-capitalist framework. In the end, the anti-capitalism attitude deformed itself into a more anti-modernization stance. This development of ideology is damaging the progress inside Papuan economy. A movement against economic development which is not data-driven is dangerous, and even more so if it is specifically targeted towards communities with lower rate of literacy. The strike, if it is going to happen, would happen as a cause of massive brainwashing to create an artificial economic and social crisis.
A bigger question to be answered would be the magnitude of economic harm which must be sustained by the people of West Papua. After numerous development measures laid out by the Joko Widodo administration, the strike will be a huge drawback, especially in the middle of major infrastructure constructions, with the likes of projects will be abandoned, and many will permanently lose their jobs.
A call to contribute in KNPB’s political machines
Regarding their political aspiration, KNPB through their declaration encouraged the West Papuans to utilize LPBP (“The Papuan Parliament”) as a tool to represent the voice of Papuan people and a place for them to participate in democracy. KNPB also declared their support for the unification of Papuan diplomats under the coordination of United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). This unification is intended to represent West Papua in the international society. For years, ULMWP has been trying to stain the name of Indonesia in international forums with no apparent evidence in the case of human rights violation or modern colonization. It is hard to see how Victor Yeimo as the spokesperson of KNPB is going to represent the voice of West Papuans that way.
The main allegation from KNPB for Indonesian government is that Indonesia consistently commit human rights violations, as well as curbing the freedom of expression of the West Papuans. Contrasting with the allegation, Indonesia has been a safe place for human rights activists in Papua, Jakarta, or virtually anywhere.
In the spirit of democratic process, the Indonesian government has never done anything to ban any political group such as KNPB. On the contrary, the West Papuans are given the privilege of special autonomy. In this era of democracy and freedom of expression, it is expected from political groups such as KNPB to make concrete, strategic diplomatic move towards the Indonesian government, which does not seem to happen anytime soon.
The main reason why the West Papuan independence never worked for the people is that KNPB is mostly representing the political interests of a small group of people who had the most amount of economic and political capital. KNPB has been deploying a divisive tactic towards the West Papuans who live in the mountain (“orang gunung”). The infiltration of separatist doctrine has not been fully successful, but its disruption hampers the peaceful life of those who want to really contribute to the society.
In its finality, KNPB exists in the promise of independence for the West Papuans. Nonetheless, what the people in West Papua need is the freedom from illiteracy, diseases, and poverty.
Source: https://www.radionz .co.nz/international/pacific-news/369885/west-papua-national-committee-calls-for-general-strike