Jakarta – The fissure in relations between the West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organisation (TPNPB-OPM) and the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) began to sharpen in 2017.
This was revealed by TPNPB-OPM spokesperson Sebby Sambom after the organisation rejected a declaration of Papua independence made by ULMWP Chairperson Benny Wenda on December 1.
Differences of opinion began to appear three years ago after the OPM took part in establishing the ULMWP.
According to Sambom, slowly but surely Wenda began take positions which conflicted with the Papua liberation movement which was being built by the OPM and other organisations.
"We will not compromise with Benny Wenda's group", Sambom told CNN Indonesia when contacted by telephone on Thursday December 3.
Sambom recollected that the OPM took part in establishing the ULMWP in 2014 in Vanuatu. But in 2016 the OPM got wind of indications that Benny Wenda and his group were starting to intervene in the ULMWP, even acting as if he was the leader of the group.
Wenda even formed a security force which Sambom referred to as a move to interfere in all aspects of the OPM movement.
"In 2016-2017 Benny Wenda's organisation formed the West Papua Revolutionary Army. So they came in and intervened as if the ULMWP was an organisation belonging to Wenda", reiterated Sambom.
"In the end the OPM saw this as not well intended. So it withdrew [from the ULMWP], in 2017", he continued.
Sambom claims that there is a difference in resolve between his organisation and Wenda and his colleagues' group. He even accuses Wenda of actually intending to destroy the Papuan people struggle for independence. It was based on this that the OPM withdrew from the ULMWP.
"Benny Wenda's group had a plan, they had a setting, we read this as damaging the national interest so the TPNPB did not want to be responsible for Benny and his groups sins", he said.
Since 2017 OPM representatives have no longer taken part in ULMWP meetings and officially declared that they had left the organisation on the grounds of a difference in principles.
"We were forced to pull out in 2017. And we did not take part in meetings in 2017. We announced this at a forum, announced it at a forum in 2017", he continued.
Sambom continued saying that after officially declaring their opposition to Wenda, Wenda then formed a rival military organisation to oppose the OPM in Papua. The organisation formed by Wenda was called the West Papua Army which began operating last year.
"Then in 2019 Benny and his group formed a counter organisation, namely the West Papua Army. So we believed that Benny and his group are destroying our struggle for independence", said Sambom in conclusion.
The different paths taken by the two organisations came to the surface following a declaration of Papuan independence by Wenda on December 1. The declaration was strongly opposed by the TPNPB-OPM. (tst/nma)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "OPM Bongkar Siasat Benny Wenda di ULMWP Rebut Tanah Papua".]