Rights commission denies meeting with Papua rebel group cultivated by TNI

Kompas.com – September 19, 2022
TPNPB-OPM spokesperson Sebby Sambom (right) – Undated (TPNPB-OPM)

Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta – National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) Chairperson Ahmad Taufan Damanik has denied that the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) commander they met with recently was from a group cultivated by the TNI (Indonesian military) and the Polri (Indonesian police).

Damanik made the denial in response to a statement by West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Movement (TPNPB-OPM) command spokesperson Sebby Sembom who said that Komnas HAM had only met with a TNI/Polri cultivated organisation, not the real OPM.

"They were not TNI/Polri cultivated", said Damanik in an SMS message on Monday September 19.

Despite the denial, Damanik declined to cite which OPM commander or which OPM faction they met with. He did confirm however that the OPM commander they met with was part of the West Papua liberation organisation.

"It's not the right time for us to say which group [we met with], but it was most certainly part of the ULMWP (United Liberation Movement for West Papua)", he said, referring to the international pro-independence umbrella group chaired by West Papuan exile Benny Wenda.

On the other hand, Damanik asserted that many political figures in Papua, including those from the Council of Churches and the Papua People's Council (MRP) agree with peaceful dialogue.

Damanik asserted that the Komnas HAM does not have a hidden political agenda behind initiating peace talks to resolve the conflict in Papua.

"Myself and other [Komnas HAM] commissioners have also met with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and the European Union in Brussels. They also support Komnas HAM's moves for a peaceful resolution in Papua. The government also supports the move", said Damanik.

Earlier, Sebby Sembom denied a claim by Damanik that they had personally met with an OPM commander in the interior of Papua. According to Sembom, the group Damanik met with was the group led by Demianus Magai Yogi who is not part of the OPM.

"We at the TPNPB national command do not acknowledge the Demianus Magai Yogi group and they are a TNI/Polri cultivated group in Paniai", said Sembom when contacted via SMS message on Monday.

Sembom even sent a photograph of the Yogi group which is close to the head of the Nabire district police intelligence unit. The photograph shows that the group led by Yogi is a TNI/Polri cultivated group.

"The laying of the first stone for the construction of Demianus Magai's house (was even) attended by the Paniai Kapolres [district police chief] and the Dandrem [military district commander], so we from the TPNPB national command do not acknowledge people who eat from two plates like Demianus Magai Yogi and his group", said Sembom.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Ketua Komnas HAM Bantah Kelompok OPM yang Ditemui di Papua adalah Binaan TNI/Polri".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2022/09/19/17585851/ketua-komnas-ham-bantah-kelompok-opm-yang-ditemui-di-papua-adalah-binaan-tni