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Papuan Rebels and State-Supported Terrorism


On December 1, 2018, a Papuan students rally took place in Surabaya. The demonstration that caused several injured victims was carried out to protest the various human rights violations that had occurred in Papua.

Only a day later, precisely on Sunday, December 2, 2018, 31 road construction workers from PT Istaka Karya in Papua slaughtered by a separatist group led by Egianus Kogoya. The massacre occurred in Kali Yigi-Kali Aurak, Yigi District, Nduga Regency, Papua.

By these two consecutive events, it is easy to guess that there was a close link between the rally of Papuan students in Surabaya and the massacre of workers in Nduga.

This massacre is a classic example of how separatist groups in the world operate. All secessionist groups in the world have interconnected military and (clandestine) intellectual wings. Therefore, it is too naive to see the Surabaya demonstration as a stand-alone incident; especially considering that the celebration of Free Papua fell on December 1.

Because of that, it should have been possible to anticipate the possibility of such acts of violence earlier, after the clandestine wing moved, the separatist military wing would also move. Their aim was obvious, to attract the world’s attention to the struggle for Papuan independence and to put political pressure on the Indonesian government. The hope is that the Indonesian Government reforms its policies and finally approves the independence referendum.

In this context, it became clear that the massacres that occurred were not ordinary crimes committed by the Armed Criminal Group as initially reported by various mainstream media. The killings they carried out showed again that the rebellion was still alive in Indonesia.

The statement of the spokesman for the West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organization (TPNPB-OPM), Senby Sanbom, that they were responsible for the attack in Nduga District, Papua, clearly shows that the massacre carried out was a planned act of Papuan separatist movement from Indonesia.

The reason that the target of the attack was that TNI members disguising themselves as road construction workers who spied on their activities were only an alibi to avoid accusations of human rights violations. The road construction workers are ‘soft-targets’ that have been determined from the very start.

From this dimension, the separatists have committed crimes which have not only of rebellion, but of terrorism. Furthermore, even the crimes they commit can be categorized as state-sponsored terrorism.

What is state-supported terrorism? In simple terms, state-supported terrorism is a terrorist activity carried out by non-state actors who obtain support from a country’s government.

In this connection, regardless of how the definition of terrorism is often seen as different from one country to another, the acts of terror carried out by Papuan rebels clearly show the existence of state-supported acts of terror.

It’s no secret that some Pacific countries such as Vanuatu, Marshall Island and Tuvalu openly support separatist activities in Papua. These three countries always disturb Indonesia every year at the UN forum. The three states accused the Indonesian government of committing human rights violations in West Papua and voicing support for Free West Papua groups.

Outside of these three countries, several countries or groups secretly support Papuan separatist movements with political and economic goals.

Facing open accusations from several Pacific countries at the UN forum, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) consistently and expressly defended and challenged every opportunity. Not only that, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also raising funds to countries or groups suspected of having the potential to provide support for the Papuan separatist movement.

However, as stated by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “You can do a lot with diplomacy, but with diplomacy backed up by force you can get a lot more done”, then diplomatic steps taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in various international forums need to be supported by real force in the form of enforcement sovereignty in the country. State crackdowns on them should no longer be ‘law enforcement’, but enforcement of independence and protection of human rights.

Comprehensive military operations are the only option owned by the government to enforce sovereignty by quelling the Papuan separatist group. Less than that can be interpreted omission or even weakness.

The Indonesian government no longer needs to feel nervous in its handling. There is no need to prolong the debate on rebel activities as a crime that is not elegant or fears of being accused of human rights violations.

The TPNPB-OPM spokesperson’s statement that the action they took was an effort to liberate Papua was a separatist act. Therefore, to realize the slogan “NKRI is a fixed price”, there is no choice but to crush separatism.

To be able to do this, it is clear that it is not only the duty and responsibility of the Police that is limited to safeguarding the security of the country but has become a common duty and responsibility of the TNI to maintain the country’s resilience.

Statement by the Papua Regional Police Chief Insp. Gen. Martuani Sormin that Nduga is the only district in the Papua Province where some of its citizens reject the presence of the Indonesian Military and Police should become the basis for strengthening the military presence and conducting comprehensive and sustainable military operations there. Terrorists and separatist movements should not defeat the state. We don’t have to wait for another victim to do so.

Utomo, Aris Heru. (December 10, 2018). Pemberontak Papua dan Terorisme yang Didukung Negara. Retrieved from Kompasiana .com: kompasiana .com/arisheruutomo/5c0e6c27ab12ae48666486f4/pemberontak-papua-dan-terorisme-yang-didukung-negara, 2018

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