Proposal to designate armed Papua groups, OPM as terrorist organisations

Antara News – March 22, 2021
West Papua National Liberation Army fighters – Undated (TPNPB-OPM)

Genta Tenri Mawangi, Jakarta – The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) plans to propose that armed criminal groups (KKB) in Papua and the Free Papua Organisations (OPM) be designated as terrorist organisations.

"We have initiated discussions with ministries and related institutions on the issue of the KKB's nomenclature", said BNPT head Police General Commissioner Boy Rafli Amar during a hearing with the House of Representatives' (DPR) Commission III in Jakarta on Monday March 22.

Amar continued, "Whether or not they can be categorised as a terrorist organisation because earlier it was conveyed that it is actually appropriate for the KKB's crimes to be categorised as or to be on par with terrorist acts".

According to Amar, the BNPT is not just planning to invite ministries and other institutions to discuss the matter, but will also invite other parties including the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and representatives of the DPR to discuss the possibility of designating the KKB, the National Liberation Army (TPN) and the OPM as terrorist organisations.

"We want to look at the possibility, then make a proposal to Pak [Mr] President (Joko Widodo), why not categorise the OPM, TPN, KKB, who have claim the lives of many security personnel and civilians as banned organisations", said Amar during the hearing at the DPR.

According to Amar, the discussions and efforts to discuss the problem are in order to reach and objective understanding of armed criminal groups and separatist organisations in Papua.

Because of this, the BNPT will try to open the possibility for discussions on the problem with other parties. This is because designating the KKB, OPM and other groups as terrorist organisations cannot be done by the BNPT alone.

"We can't decide on it on our own. We are currently holding discussions. After there's some kind of agreement, we will propose changes to the category of what is being done by the KKB as terrorist acts", said Amar.

Amar also took the opportunity to convey the view that armed criminal groups and separatist organisations in Papua should be able to be prosecuted under the articles in the anti-terrorism law.

He argued that the actions of these groups conflicts with humanitarian values and spread fear in society. "The real actions they take, namely attacking TNI [Indonesian military] and Polri [Indonesian police] personnel and civilians there (in Papua)", said Amar.

Over the last few years calls to designate the OPM as a terrorist organisation have been articulated by several parties, including in 2019 by former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief A.M. Hendropriyono.

Despite this, up until now the OPM is still known as a separatist group and has yet to be designated as a terrorist organisation by the government. The same is the case for the KKB who are still known as an armed criminal group.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "BNPT berencana usul KKB dan OPM ditetapkan jadi organisasi teroris".]