Indonesian Military Dismisses Papuan Rebel Leader’s Claim of Unified Army – West Papua No.1 News Portal
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Indonesian Military Dismisses Papuan Rebel Leader’s Claim of Unified Army

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Papuans take part in a parade in Surabaya, Indonesia commemorating the independence day of Papua from Dutch colonial rule, Dec. 1, 2018. -AFP

Papua, Jubi – A unity pact struck reportedly by separatist rebel factions in Papua province is an attempt to win public support, the Indonesian military said Friday, while it was still searching for a helicopter that vanished in the region a week earlier with 12 servicemen on board.

The head of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) announced this week that three rebel groups resisting Jakarta’s forces in the far eastern province had agreed on May 1 to come together and unify militarily under the banner of the West Papua Army.

ULMWP’s claims, however, were “a ploy to gain public sympathy,” said Muhammad Aidi, a spokesman in Papua for the Indonesian armed forces (TNI).

They’ve been saying that for a long time,” he told BenarNews. “For us, whether they are united or divided is not an issue.”

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He added a warning.

No sovereign country will tolerate separatism. Raising an army is a violation of the law. Not only will they have to face the TNI, but also the entire people of Indonesia,” Aidi said.

Maj. Gen. Sisriadi, TNI’s national spokesman, described the Papuan rebels as “criminals.”

The TNI will continue to assist the police in enforcing the laws in Papua, by looking for and arresting wanted armed criminals who have carried out criminal acts such as the destruction of property, the killing of civilians and other atrocities,” Sisriadi told BenarNews.

Several important people from the armed criminal groups in Papua have realized their mistakes and surrendered their weapons to the military and promised to work together with the people to develop Papua as an integral part of the Unitary State of Indonesia,” Sisriadi said, referring to rebels.

Search teams, meanwhile, have been out looking every day – weather permitting – but so far have uncovered no traces of the army helicopter that went missing during a flight in remote and densely forested Papua on June 28, Aidi said. Its jungle-clad terrain and limited road networks make air transport vital to the troubled region.

The Russian-made Mil Mi-17 lost contact with ground control a few minutes after lifting off from Oksibil, an administrative center in the mountainous Pegunungan Bintang regency, the military said.

Still nothing, we have not found any signs of it,” Aidi said, adding that there had been no radio contact with the crew and passengers since the helicopter disappeared.

There’s still a possibility that the helicopter made an emergency landing. We are still hopeful,” he said.

All 12 people on board were TNI personnel. There was one officer among them, a second lieutenant, according to Aidi.

The crew did not send out any distress signal and officials suspect that bad weather, which can develop rapidly, was a factor. The control tower reported the helicopter missing at an altitude of 7,800 feet (2,400 meters), five minutes after leaving Oksibil, according to the Associated Press.

It had stopped there to refuel while transporting troops and supplies to a border post near Indonesia’s frontier with Papua New Guinea, AP reported.

Unity is our strength’

Papua New Guinea is where the three rebel factions – the West Papua Revolutionary Army, the West Papuan National Army and the West Papua National Liberation Army – met in early May and agreed to join forces as a united army against Jakarta rule, according to Benny Wenda, the Britain-based leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

This is important because it is the first time all the military factions have come together in the history of our struggle,” Wenda told BenarNews. “Unity is our strength. For the first time ever, we are politically unified under the ULMWP, and militarily unified under the West Papua Army.”

This development shows the world that we are ready for independence, ready to form a government free from Indonesian colonialism,” he added.

However, a faction of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) led by Jeffrey Bomanak and its armed wing, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), disputed Wenda’s claims about the unity pact.

The OPM-National Liberation Army is not part of ULMWP. OPM had existed even before there was ULMWP. We are soldiers, while UMWP is a civilian movement,” Bomanak told BenarNews on Friday.

Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the West Papua National Liberation Army, said his faction was not involved in the congress in Papua New Guinea that led to the declaration of a unified West Papua Army. TPNPB commanders, such as Goliat Tabuni, Egianus Kogoya and Puron Wenda, did not attend that meeting, he said.

I heard that the extraordinary congress was held in Vanimo (PNG) in May. But we know nothing about it, so we reject all the outcome,” Sebby told BenarNews.

The Papuan armed separatist movement is often seen as being made up of fractious groups, whose fighters lack modern military equipment. Most of their weapons are traditional instruments such as spears, bows and arrows. The few firearms they possess usually are captured from government security forces.

Hipo Wangge, a researcher at the Marthinus Academy think-tank in Jakarta, cast doubts on Benny’s claim about the establishment of a unified rebel army.

The nature of the liberation [movement] has been fragmented since the 1960s,” Wangge said.

Increased military activity

Indonesian security forces have intensified operations in Papua after rebels killed 19 road construction workers and a soldier in Nduga regency in December last year.

Indigenous teenagers and boys who appear to be barely adolescent were involved in armed separatist groups in Papua, AP reported last month.

Wenda disputed the report and said the separatist movement was “committed to the full implementation of international law, unlike the illegal Indonesian occupation.”

Since December 2018, over 30 civilian children have been killed in brutal Indonesian bombing raids and ground operations,” Wenda alleged.

The military and police have denied that civilians were targeted in counter-insurgency operations. Human rights groups have accused Indonesian forces in Papua of committing serious abuses with near impunity.

In December, residents of Nduga were forced to flee to escape clashes between the insurgents and government security forces who were sent to capture those responsible in the killings of the workers who were building the Trans-Papua Highway.

The construction of bridges as part of the highway that stretches more than 4,300 km (2,687 miles) from Sorong, the largest city in West Papua province, to Merauke regency has since resumed following the deployment of more than 600 soldiers to secure the project. It is scheduled to be completed later this year.

Papua is one of the archipelago’s poorest regions despite its rich natural resources. It declared independence from Dutch colonial rule on Dec. 1, 1961, but that was rejected by the Netherlands and later by Indonesia.

In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded the region and annexed it, and six years later held a controversial referendum in which, according to rights groups, security forces selected slightly more than 1,000 people to agree to the region’s formal absorption into the archipelagic nation. (Benarnews.org)

 

Source: Benarnews.org

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Hundreds of people were detained in Papua ahead to 1 December

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One of four students who arrested by police at Gereja Gembala Baik, Abepura on 1 December. – Courtesy of LBH Papua

Jayapura, Jubi – Around 112 people were arrested by police in several towns of Papua and Papua Barat provinces within a week ahead to 1 December 2019 under the treason article concerning the Morning Star flag-raising.

Five days before 1 December which commemorated as the Papuan political manifesto by Papuans, a young Papuan activist Pilipus Robaha arrested by police in his house on 26 November 2019. The police questioned him in association with a letter posting on social media appealing people to attend the commemoration worship of 1 December at Trikora Square. Lack of evidence to accuse his involvement connected to the report, the police released him the next day.

A day after his arrest, the police detained eight people in Manokwari at around 3 in the afternoon of local time. The Regional Police Chief of Papua Barat Province, Brigadier General Herry Rudolf Nahak, said during the police seized twenty-nine big-sized Morning Star flags, some posters and pamphlets and two cars.

“During the interrogation, these eight people admitted that they participated in the event after reading the pamphlet about a rally at Borasi Square, Manokwari on Wednesday morning,” said the police chief.

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Until Thursday (5/12/2019), they are still under the custody of Manokwari Police. So far, the police declared none of these eight persons named suspects. However, the police have charged seven detainees under the treason article, according to Yan Warinussy, the Executive Director of Legal Aid Research, Study and Development Study (LP3BH) Manokwari. Meanwhile, another one only named as a witness.

Another arrest occurred in Sentani City of Jayapura Regency. The police detained thirty-four people on Saturday evening (30/11/2019) while marching towards Trikora Square, Abepura to participate in a flag-raising ceremony. The police also accused them as the members of the West Papuan National Liberation Army from Demta sub-district and Sarmi Regency after finding evidence of their membership cards.

Jayapura Police Chief Adjunct Commissionaire Victor Makbon said “We already released fourteen of them, but twenty people have named suspects. We charged six of them under the Emergency Law on the possession of sharp weapons and the Treason Article 106 and Article 2 verse (1) of the Criminal Code.”

In the meantime, there are 13 people charged under the Treason Article 106 of the Criminal Code, while one also charged under the Treason Article 106 and Article 160 on incitement.

Regarding this case, Yohanis Mambrasaar, a lawyer from Papua Human Rights Advocates Association (PAHAM), confirmed that the report on twenty people charged for treason. Currently, he said PAHAM is preparing the power of attorney to provide legal assistance for detainees.

Separately, the police arrested four students at Gembala Baik Church in Abepura on Sunday Morning. Marvin Yobe, Desepianus Dumupa, Paul Halapok and Devion Tekege wore the Papuan highland traditional clothes and pained their bodies with the Morning Star pattern. They also brought the Morning Star flags to the Church during the worship time.

The arrested student Desepianus Dumupa said the purpose of their act was to ask God for freedom. “Our purpose carrying the flag in the worship was to ask God’s help, ask Him to liberate our nation,” said Dumupa.

However, the police then released these four students after being interrogated until 1 morning on Monday. They first questioned at Abepura Police Headquarters, then at Jayapura Police Headquarters after the police had not found any evidence at their accommodation.

By Monday morning, the police called Father James Kosay who led the worship at Gembala Baik Church on 1 December to question related to the arrest of four students. “At the time of arrest, there were twenty police officers, both without and with uniform, entered the church during the worship that made people panic,” said Father James.

A day before the incident in Gembala Baik Church, the police also called Markus Haluk, the Executive Director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in connection with The Call for Communal Worship on 1 December 2019. The police interrogated Haluk with twenty-nine questions for six hours.

Another detain also occurred in Fakfak. The local police of Fakfak arrested 54 people in Warpa, Pikpik and Mabuni-Buni villages of Kayauni sub-district at around 3 in the afternoon on Sunday (1/12/2019). The police accused them intending to raise the Morning Star flag at the residence of Fakfak Regent. Also, the police claimed the fifty-four detainees as the members of TPNPB after finding their membership cards during the arrest.

Fakfak Police Chief Ary Nyoto Setiawan said that the Morning Star flag was already raised in Warpa village by twenty-three people with sharp weapons. When the arrest took place, according to the chief, the police also found the amount of IDR 88 million on the scene.

“The money was about to send to their highest rank leader in Jayapura,” said the chief.

Based on their investigation, the police has officially named twenty-three people as suspects.

The Recherche and Crime Investigation Chief of Fakfak Police, Misbahul Munir, said, “ These twenty-three people wanted to come to Fakfak to wave the flag at the official residence of Fakfak Regent.“

A picture of the arrest in Fakfak widely spread in social media

A photo of the arrest in Pikpik village of Fakfak raised criticism among Papuan people following its circulation on social media. In the picture, almost naked, some people tied up together and remained sitting by the road.

“The right word for the picture is slavery. Only those who experienced colonialism can do this. They experienced the same oppression before their independence. So, they want to practice the same thing against the oppressed people,“ said Filep Karma to comment on the photo that goes viral on social media.

However, Fakfak Police has not yet confirmed about the picture. So far, the Recherche and Crime Investigation Chief of Fakfak Police has not answered the phone and WhatsApp message to clarify the photograph allegedly describes the arrest in Pikpik village. However, several Fakfak residents confirmed that the circulated photo about the detain in Pikpik village on 1 December 2019 is valid.

“They arrested on 1 (December). A man with white hair body on chess was my classmate, Yance Hegemur,” said a Fakfak resident by phone to confirm the photograph.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Domberai Customary Council Finsen Mayor also believes the same way. “Yes, it was the picture of the incident on 1 December in Fakfak. They transported to Fakfak Police Headquarters in the evening,” said Mayor.

From Tuesday (26/11/2019) to Wednesday (4/12/2019) afternoon, there are 101 people arrested and interrogated by police in connection to 1 December. So far, 82 people are still detained in Fakfak, Manokwari and Sentani, while the rest already released by police. At least 27 people have named suspects under the treason article, in which twenty people in Sentani and other seven in Manowakri.

In the sense of police acts to anticipate 1 December by arresting Papuans, according to Yan Warinussy, it would only worsen the image of the Indonesian Government among Papuans as Papua has a different historical background to other regions in Indonesia. This recognition is implicitly acknowledged the verse e of the Law 21/2001 about the Special Autonomy for Papua.

“1 December should be used as a milestone to create constructive efforts to straighten the history of Papua by the people of Papua and the state for the sake of peace,” said Warinussy.

He further asserted that every social and political movement of Papuan people, which contain different aspirations, should be responded with the kind response and accommodated through peaceful dialogue. (*)

 

Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Tabi Province, for whom it established?

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Illustration. -Doc

Jayapura, Jubi – An intellectual youth figure of Tabi Frangklin Wahey said the establishment of new Tabi province does not benefit the people of Tabi.

“This becomes a current big issue for native people in Tabi, and it needs further clarification from a group of regents and mayors who propose new administrative regions. In this sense, I only focus on Tabi region as the capital of Papua Province lay on it. So, I think it is weird if some native Tabi wants a new split regency. I suggest to those who propose this idea to clarify their specific needs and interest behind this,” he said.

As a native Tabi, he questioned why this regional split issue is becoming a critical issue now while did not get any attention during the first administration period.

“I think it is the interest of people who want becoming a governor in Tabi. If you want to be a governor, I suggest that better you provide a good example (to the public) and be prepared to compete (in the election). For the regent and mayor in Tabi region, I ask you to not making this issue complicated because it may disturb the harmony among indigenous Tabi,” he said.

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Further, he said politically, the economy and education of indigenous Papuans in Tabi has long been left behind compared to others. If Tabi becomes a new province, it does not make them better. Instead, they will more marginalise.

“We must allow Mr Lukas to run his duty as a current governor and support him for what he has done in Tabi through outstanding development. He has made the region of Tabi a beautiful place. So, I ask the mayor and regent to build good coordination with the governor, provincial parliament and people’s assembly. Because they have authority and capacity to speak on behalf of the public interest in Papua,” he said.

Meanwhile, a native from Tobati Mrs Nonce Hanasbey hopes the government to be more focus on human resources development and local economic empowerment. According to her, it can improve indigenous livelihood and welfare.

“So far, infrastructure development has significantly progressed, and many primary changes have done. It only needs to support indigenous people in using their potential and existing natural resources for assuring these infrastructures benefit for them instead of other groups. (*)

 

Reporter: Aguz Pabika

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Carrying Morning Star flags in the worship, four students arrested in Church

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Four students were taken to Abepura Police station while attending Mass at Gembala Baik Catholic Church, Abepura on Sunday (1/12/2019)

Jayapura, Jubi – Four students were taken to Abepura Police station while attending Mass at Gembala Baik Catholic Church, Abepura on Sunday (1/12/2019). Wearing the traditional clothes of Papuan highlands, two of them decorated their faces with the pattern of Morning Star.

The four students are Marvin Yobe, Desepianus Dumupa, Paul Halapok and Devion Tekege. “They brought three Morning Star flags,” said Mario, an Abepura resident who was at the worship.

A police officer who not wear uniform at that time stood to arrest the students when they were about to receive the Host, but hold by the congregation asking him to respect the Holly Communion. Then, the police officer took the students out of the Church after seizing their flags.

Among the four, Desepianus Dumupa (26 years old) said their aim bringing the Morning Flags to the Church was to ask God for freedom. “Our purpose coming to the worship with the flags is to ask for help from God. We ask God to give freedom for Papuans,” said Dumupa.

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At the meantime, the Director of Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Papua, Emanuel Gobay, said the police took the students to Abepura police station for questioning. During the investigation, Jayapura Police Chief Gustaf Urbunas came and met with the Coalition Team of Papua Legal and Human Rights Advocates who accompanied the four students.

Urbinas stated the four students would be taken to Perumnas III Waena to inspect their accommodation after the examination for searching other evidence. After that, they would go to Jayapura Police Headquarter for further investigation.

“When asked about the legal status of the four students, the police chief said the police still ask their clarification before taking a decision,” said Gobay, the Coordinator of the Coalition team.

However, Gobay continued, after their inspection to Perumnas III, the police did not found any evidence. Then, the police took the four students to Jayapura Headquarters, took their pictures and fingerprints before continuing the interrogation.

The examination continued until 00.59; Monday, 2 December 2019 before the four students were finally released.

Meanwhile, as quoted by Antara News Agency, Papua Police Chief General Paulus Waterpauw confirmed the interrogation against the four students. “I ordered Jayapura Municipal Police Chief to explore the case, to find out what do their plans,” said Waterpauw.

He stated in general the security situation in Papua is conducive during the commemoration West Papuan Independence Day which held every 1 December. Moreover, he said there were no public activities considered disturbing the security and public order.

“Generally safe, conducive and controlled. We are grateful to all stakeholders. Therefore, the commemoration of 1 December, which is an annual event, can run in a conducive, safe and controlled,” said Paulus Waterpauw on Sunday (1/12/2019). (*)

 

Reporter: Victor Mambor

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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