Jakarta – On December 1, United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Chairperson Benny Wenda declared Papuan independence. He did not make the declaration on Papuan soil but rather through a press release on the ULMWP's official website.
In the declaration, Wenda said that he will no longer submit to the constitution and Indonesian law and that Papua will have its own laws and constitution.
Aside from declaring Papuan independence, Wenda also stated that he has been appointed as the interim president of the provisional administration of the republic of Papua.
"Today, we announce the formation of the West Papua provisional administration. We are ready to take over our territory, and we will no longer submit to Jakarta's illegal martial law", said Wenda.
"Starting today, December 1, 2020, we will begin to apply our own constitution and reclaim our sovereign land", said Wenda.
The declaration made by Wanda has received a negative response from other Papuan independence fighters who are part of the West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organisation (TPNPB-OPM).
They have rejected Wanda's unilateral claim of independence and in particular the claim that Benny is Papua's provisional president.
"Starting today December 2, 2020, we from the TPNPB-OPM National Committee Central Management Office declare a motion of no confidence in Benny Wanda", said TPNPB-OPM spokesperson Sebby Sambon in a written release.
The OPM believes that the claim of independence announced by Wanda will actually damage the Papuan people's unity who are in the midst of an immediate struggle.
Sambon even accused Wanda of working in the interests of foreign capitalists from the European Union, the United States and Australia. This, according to Sambon, conflicts with the revolutionary principles of the Papuan nation.
"According to international law Benny Wenda declared and announced his state and claim in a foreign country, namely in the country of the British monarchy, this is totally wrong and cannot be accepted by any sensible person", he said.
Wanda's declaration of Papuan independence has not had any significant impact on the situation in Papua itself.
This was revealed by the spokesperson for the Indonesian military's (TNI) Joint Defence Area Command III, Colonel Czi IGN Suriastawa who said that so far the situation in Papua is still favourable.
Suriastawa said that the declaration by Wanda is a matter for law enforcement officials and the TNI can only confirm that the situation in Papua is currently under control.
"It's pretty smooth in Papua. Let the police deal with BW (Benny Wanda) because [his declaration] leans in the direction of makar [treason, rebellion, subversion]", he said.
Despite this, House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I member Sukamta has asked the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo not to take Wanda's declaration lightly.
According to Sukamta the government must immediately deal with this protracted problem through a comprehensive approach so that Papua does not suffer the same fate as East Timor which separated from Indonesia.
"Don't treat this development lightly, we don't want Papua to end up like East Timor. Shootings and attacks on the security forces and civil society are still continuing, showing that the situation in Papua is not yet stable", said Sukamta. (tst/bmw)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pecah Kongsi Benny Wenda dan OPM Soal Papua Merdeka".]