Jayapura, Jubi – Armed violence escalates in Puncak Regency in Papua Land, or internationally known as West Papua, following President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s order to capture all members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). Meanwhile, in Jakarta, Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo demands the government to “talk about human rights later” to prioritize “exterminating” the TPNPB.
“I demand the government that the security forces deploy forward at full force, without a doubt, to exterminate the armed criminal group in Papua which has taken lives. Just eradicate them. Let’s talk about human rights later,” Soesatyo said on Monday, April 26, 2021, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.
Soesatyo, who in 2020 proposed that 9-millimeter pistols be made legally available to certified gun owners for self-defense purposes, also asked the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) to declare the group a terrorist organization.
Rights watchdog Setara Institute deemed the politician’s statement would only trigger a spiral of violence and add to the complexity of the Papua conflict, resulting in more casualties.
“Numerous cases of the fatal shooting, which has claimed the lives of people, most often the civilians, has shown that the security approach is not the answer to the problem in Papua,” Setara Institute deputy Bonar Tigor Naipospos said in a written statement on Tuesday.
Naipospos criticized Soesatyo’s suggestion to put human rights behind, saying that non-derogable rights, as stipulated in Article 28i of the Constitution, could not be reduced by anyone in any condition including war and emergencies.
Secretary of Papua Pegunungan Tengah Student Association (AMPTPI) Ikem Wetipo asked the government to stop calling the TPNPB a terrorist or a group worth killing, as in Soesatyo’s comment, which justified human rights violation in Papua land.
“Stop making reckless statements, [such as from] the MPR speaker and the President about capturing, eradicating the TPNPB. It means that the state justifies casualties in the process of pursuing the group,” Wetipo said on Tuesday.
Armed conflict has been escalating in Puncak Regency since April 8, 2021, when the TPNPB shot dead Oktavianus Rayo, a teacher in Beoga District suspected by the group as an Indonesian spy. Since then, five people have died including Papua spy chief Maj. Gen. Anumerta IGP Danny NK, who was killed in a crossfire on Sunday. The TPNPB also reportedly burned schools in Beoga.
A Jubi source told that the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police were seen pursuing the TPNPB troops in North Ilaga District since Tuesday at 9 a.m. local time. “We saw the security forces in three helicopters, [flying over] in Misimaga, Efesus, and Tegelobak Village. The helicopter landed at the Mayuberi creek, [then flew and] has not returned. Whether [the helicopter] has gone to Sinak or Beoga, we don’t know,” he said.
At 5 p.m., firefights broke out between the TPNPB led by Lekagak Telenggen and the TNI and police in Makki, Misimaga, Efesus, and Tegelobak Village. The security forces also reportedly bombarded the villages, prompting villagers to evacuate to churches, forests, and nearby villages such as Tanah Merah and Gome.
No report of civilian casualties as of Tuesday evening. However, two Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel injured and one died in the crossfire, Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Ahmad Musthofa Kamal confirmed. The injured policemen are Second Insp. Anton Tonapa who got shot on the back and Chief Brig. M Syaifudin, shot in the stomach. Meanwhile, Second Agent Komang died of a gunshot wound. All victims have been evacuated to Mimika General Hospital.
Meanwhile, TPNPB commander Egianus Kogeya claimed his party had shot dead three TNI members in Nduga Regency on Monday, who according to Kogeya, allegedly burned five houses in Alguru District.
TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambom, responded to Jokowi’s order and Soesatyo’s statement, saying the group would never back down in the face of the Indonesian government’s military operations. “TPNPB is ready,” Sambom told Jubi.
“We are standing on our own land. Indonesia with the TNI and police are the thieves coming to steal our natural resources while killing us,” Sambom said.
Sambom urged the Indonesian government to act as a democratic country and send a negotiator, instead of security forces, to discuss with the TPNPB. “We warn President Jokowi not to sacrifice any more of [Indonesian] soldiers. President Jokowi must open for negotiations with TPNPB’s negotiators,” he said.
Naipospos of Setara Institute urged both the TPNPB and Indonesian government to cease hostilities and turn to peaceful dialogue and law enforcement.
“Instead of ‘talking about human rights later’, which is clearly not a solution to the Papua conflict, it’s better to learn from a successful soft approach such as the negotiation between the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Through this strategy, ex-GAM leader Din Minimi and 120 of his men surrendered without violence in 2015,” Naipospos said.
Meanwhile, The AMPTPI urged the government of Indonesia to discuss the Papua conflict with civilian pro-Papua independence group, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).
“The majority of Papuans listen to the ULMWP. For the sake of humanity and in order to uphold world peace, the government must sit together with the ULMWP,” said Wetipo.
Editor: Evi Mariani