Free Papua Organisation (OPM) spokesperson Sebby Sambon denies that his group has acted in a criminal manner by taking hundreds of local people hostage and raping them. According to Sebby, reports making such claims are just propaganda aimed at damaging the OPM’s struggle.
“There has been no hostage taking in Banti, Kembeli and Tembagapura, Papua, as widely reported in the media. The reports on the hostage taking by the OPM in Banti, Kembeli and Tembagapura, Papua, are absolutely untrue”, said Sebby when sought for confirmation by phone on Sunday November 12.
According to Sebby the accusations by Indonesian authorities are propaganda to blame the OPM to provoke a reaction from the public.
“The ploy by the Indonesian military and police leadership is too seek legitimisation with the aim of blaming us, but we’re not that stupid. We know the true actions of the paranoid military, who are always producing cheap propaganda to provoke the public”, continued Sebby.
Sebby also shrugged off accusations that civilians have been raped saying he regrets that the Indonesian authorities have failed to first check the news which has been spread widely.
“[The Accusations] of rape are untrue. They the police are law enforces so why didn’t they carry out a criminal investigation first then charge the OPM? This is a good question. Meaning there is no legal evidence yet, the [accusations] are untrue”, he said.
He then reiterated that the OPM’s position is that civilians are not the enemy. He emphasised however that it is the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police) that are the enemy.
“We have already conveyed this before that our enemy is not civilians. Rather our enemy is the Indonesian military and police. All of this is untrue slander by the Indonesian authorities”, he said.
He admitted however, that the OPM has prohibited Tembagapura residents from leaving their village to seek refuge in Timika. This appeal, according to Sebby, has a reason.
“The ones that are ordering the people to seek refuge are the Indonesian military and police with the aim of wanting to carry out a missive military operation”, he explained.
As has been widely reported, an armed group alleged to be the OPM has cut off access to two village districts in Tembagapura and Mimika, Papua. In addition to cutting access, the armed group is also alleged to have terrorised local people. The two villages that have been isolated from Mimika are Banti and Kembeli.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Jubir OPM Bantah Penyanderaan dan Perkosaan di Tembagapura.]