Designating OPM as terrorists will ‘increase tension, rights abuses’

Papua Merdeka
Branding Papuan pro-independence groups as "terrorists" will increase tensions and there are contradictions in the Anti-Terrorism Law itself, say activists.

By Arjuna Pademme in Jayapura

The Indonesian government appears to be at a loss about how to quell the struggle of the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) with its plan to designate Papuan independence organisations as “terrorist” groups.

Democracy Alliance for Papua (ADP) director Latifah Anum Siregar says that the Counter Terrorism Agency (BNPT) should rethink its proposal to apply the Anti-Terrorism Law before the government makes a decision which will add to tensions in Papua.

“Actually, I think, sorry yeah but perhaps the government is at a loss as to how to handle the TPN [West Papua National Liberation Army] and the OPM,” said Siregar.

“It’s not certain this will bring things under control, it’s not certain that it will make the situation better. So I think that the government has to be more careful in looking at this.

“If the government gives them this definition, it will increase tensions.”

Siregar said there were contradictions in the Anti-Terrorism Law itself.

For example, Article 5 reads, “Terrorist crimes regulated under this law must be considered not to be political crimes”. Meanwhile, what the OPM is doing is fighting for independence politically, not through terrorism.

Amnesty also opposed
Speaking in a similar vein, Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid also opposes the discourse being promoted by BNPT chief Boy Rafli Amar.

According to Hamid, this will not stop human rights violations in Papua.

“Classifying armed groups which are affiliated with the OPM as terrorist organisations will not end the human rights violations being suffered by the Papuan people,” he said in a media release.

“Many of these [violations] are being committed by state security forces, it would be better to continue with a legal approach.”

Hamid is also concerned that giving such groups the “terrorist” label would be used as a pretext to further restrict Papuan’s freedom of expression and assembly through the Anti-Terrorism Law.

Earlier, BNPT chief Boy Rafli Amar said that they would hold discussions with ministries and other agencies on the naming of armed criminal groups (KKB) in Papua.

‘Reasonable’ category
According to Amar, it was reasonable to categorise the activities of these groups as terrorist acts.

“Whether or not they can be categorised as a terrorist organisation because earlier it was conveyed that it is actually appropriate for the KKB’s crimes to be categorised as or to be on par with terrorist acts,” Amar said during a hearing with the House of Representatives (DPR) on March 22.

Amar also said that aside from ministries and other agencies, the BNPT would be holding discussions with the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and DPR representatives.

According to Amar, the discussions would be held to reach an “objective understanding” about these groups.

Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was “Wacana OPM Masuk Kategori Teroris, Aktivis: Akan Meningkatkan Ketegangan”

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