Jakarta, Jubi – Indonesia’s State Intelligence Agency (BIN) has labeled the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) a separatist and terrorist group following the death of Brig. Gen. I Gusti Putu Danny NK, a spy chief in Papua killed in a crossfire with the liberation army in Puncak Regency on Sunday, April 25, 2021.
“It is categorized as a terrorist because it attacks civilians,” BIN’s deputy VII Wawan Hari Purwanto told CNN Indonesia on Monday. On Saturday, the TPNPB reportedly burned schools and the house of tribal chief Eber Tinal in Dambet Village, Beoga District, where spy chief Danny took inspection later.
The National Police, however, said that the official term for TPNPB in Indonesian government lingo was still “armed criminal group” or “KKB”.
“It is still categorized as an armed criminal group,” National Police’s chief of Community Information Center Brig. Gen. Rusdi Hartono said on Tuesday. According to him, the police’s counterterrorism squad, Densus 88, has not been involved in a study to categorize the TPNPB as a terrorist organization.
In March, the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) said it was conducting a study on whether or not the TPNPB was a terrorist group. “We’re still discussing the matter with a number of ministries and agencies,” BNPT chief Comr. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said. Amar, however, believed the group had committed violence and firearm attacks which prompted fear in the community.
Meanwhile, The TPNPB refuses to be labeled a terrorist group. TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambom said their actions were justified in order to liberate the Papua Land, including the arson of schools because they were Indonesia’s program.
“This is an area of war and conflict, whatever happens here is just natural,” Sebby said. He added that his party had never shot civilians but only those who were suspected as Indonesian spies.
International Law expert of National University Ogiandhafiz Juanda said that putting a terrorist label on the TPNPB would be historically, ideologically, and legally faulty.
Historically, the TPNPB’s action is driven by a disagreement over the process of Papuan integration into Indonesia. It is then strengthened by the factual condition in which the Papuan Indigenous People are socially, economically, and politically oppressed throughout the years under the Indonesian government.
“Putting a terrorist label on the TPNPB would be counterproductive as it would only strengthen the group’s views on the history of violence in Papua,” Juanda said.
Moreover, Juanda said that the TPNPB clearly did not share the ideology adopted by the mainstream terrorist groups in Indonesia such as the Jamaah Islamiyah and the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, which used certain religious interpretations to justify violence.
Therefore, calling the TPNPB terrorist, Juanda said, would expand the legal definition of terrorism. “It is contrary to the legal principles of Lex Stricta and Lex Certa, which does not allow the formulation of offenses in law to be open to multiple interpretations,”
“If the government uses the definition of terrorism textually, it can be interpreted broadly based on the subjectivity of the authority. In the future, civilians who have the same views and demands as the TPNPB can be suspected of terrorism,” Juanda said.
“In fact, these demands may be based on reality and are a form of political aspirations and genuine will of the Papuans. Calling the TPNPB a terrorist can reduce the freedom of speech of the Papuan people,” he added.