Labeling armed Papua groups as terrorists will only worsen security situation: Kontras

Source – April 8, 2021
Islamic and nationalist mobs besiege Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya – August 16, 2019 (CNN)

Achmad Nasrudin Yahya, Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) is concerned that the discourse on labeling armed crimiAccording to Amar, it is appropriate nal groups (KKB) in Papua as terrorists will give rise to the misuse of power.

"The discourse on grouping KKB and the TPN-OPM [National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organisation] in the classification of terrorist organisations is a rash move and has the potential [to give rise to misuse of power]", said Kontras Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti in a press release on Thursday April 8.

Maulidiyanti said that the discourse will only be used as a avenue for the state to legitimise using the TNI (Indonesian military) to handle domestic security through Law Number 5/2018 the Eradication of Terrorism.

If this happens, Maulidiyanti believes it will in fact result in making the security situation in Papua even worse.

In addition to this, continue Maulidiyanti, labeling armed criminal groups as terrorists will, sooner or later, have a psycho-social impact on society. According to Maulidiyanti, Papuans who reside in other parts of Indonesia could potentially be labeled terrorists by local residents.

"Learning from a series of earlier incidents, the culture of racism has not fully disappeared. With this label, racist incidents like those at the Papua student dormitory in Yogyakarta [Central Java] and Surabaya [East Java] could easily happen at other Papuan student dormitories", said Maulidiyanti.

Kontras is calling on the government to use a more humanistic approach to deal with the conflict in Papua rather than a security approach through militaristic means which are ridden with violence.

This could begin with withdrawing troops from various parts of Papua. Maulidiyanti said that a conflict resolution approach must be carried out comprehensively and address the roots of the problem.

"The government must immediately seek a point of agreement and build dialogue with credible representatives who represent or are accepted by the ordinary Papuan people", she explained.

In concert with this, Maulidiyanti is urging the government to cancel the plan to label armed groups as terrorists.

"We urge the government to cancel the discourse on redefining KKB in Papua or TPN-OPM as terrorist organisations. This is an emotional move and does not consider the future impacts", said Maulidiyanti.

"An approach by methods of stigmatisation will in fact further add to a complex problem and will not resolve the problem of justice", she added.

Earlier, National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Boy Rafli Amar raised the possibility of categorizing armed groups in Papua as terrorist organisations.

Amar said the BNPT is currently discussing the idea with a number of related ministries and government institutions.

"We are continuing to initiate discussions with various ministries and government agencies related to the issue of the KKB's nomenclature to look at the possibility of whether they can be categorised as a terrorist organisation", said Amar during a hearing with the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission III on Monday March 22.

According to Amar, it is appropriate to equate the policies being pursued by KKB as terrorist acts because the KKB uses violence, the threat of violence and weapons to create widespread fear in society.

"The real conditions in the field can actually be said to be terrorist acts", said Amar.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Kontras: Wacana Pelabelan KKB Teroris Berpotensi Timbulkan Penyalahgunaan Kekuasaan".]