TNI commander warns Papuan separatists using social media for propaganda

Source – February 16, 2021
Indonesian military (TNI) commander Air Martial Hadi Tjahjanto – Undated (Antara)

Achmad Nasrudin Yahya, Jakarta – Indonesian military (TNI) Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto has revealed that Papuan separatists are using social media (medsos) as a propaganda tool.

Tjahjanto explained that there are at least three elements exploiting social media as a propaganda tool, namely elements from political, clandestine and armed fronts.

"We are all aware that the power of the internet and medsos is being used to spread the ideas of radicalism and terrorism. An example is Papuan separatist actors behind political, clandestine and armed fronts who are also exploiting social media for their propaganda", said Tjahjanto during the TNI's 2021 Leadership Meeting as quoted by Tribune News on Tuesday February 16.

Tjahjanto said that the development of technology and science has given birth to "social weapons". The birth of these social weapons has even made society follow the wishes of these weapons.

"Currently also there are scientific and technological developments which have given birth to new 'social weapons'. These new 'social weapons' have made almost all of us take part in this media", he said.

Tjahjanto is aware that social media's power can have a dangerous effect. As an anticipatory measure, he explained, social media, the internet as well as cyber media has become a concern of the TNI.

"The internet, cyber [media] and social media must be of concern for all of us. Social media's power has already encouraged riots in several countries, Europe, the United States, Myanmar and Thailand", said Tjahjanto.


In March 2020, Twitter and Facebook suspended more than 80 accounts following a Reuters investigation that linked them to a network of 10 news sites backed by the Indonesian army that publish pro-government propaganda about West Papua. The 10 sites appear to be independent news outlets but Reuters found they were funded and coordinated by an army corporal. Reuters said that some used profile photos or cartoons that made them appear to be the work of Papuan residents or "Free Papua" activists, even as they promoted material that praised the army and criticised advocates of Papuan self-determination.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Panglima TNI Sebut Kelompok Separatis Papua Jadikan Medsos Alat Propaganda".]