Labeling Papua armed groups terrorists will only worsen rights situation: Amnesty

Source – April 29, 2021
Security Chief Mahfud MD (left) – Undated (Antara)

Rahel Narda Chaterine, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia says that labeling armed groups in Papua as terrorist has the potential to add to the long list of human rights violations in the region.

Amnesty International Executive Director Usman Hamid believes that labeling armed groups terrorist will not end the problems or human rights violations in Papua.

"Even if they are so easily labeled terrorist, this will in fact have the potential of adding to the long list of human rights violations in Papua", Hamid told on Thursday April 29.

Based on Amnesty International Indonesia's records, there were at least 47 cases of extrajudicial killings committed by Indonesian security forces between February 2018 and December 2020 resulting in the death of around 80 people.

Moreover, said Hamid, in 2021 there have already been five cases of alleged extrajudicial killings by security forces resulting in the death of seven people.

"Just in 2021 alone, there have already been at least five cases of alleged extrajudicial killings by security forces, with a total of seven victims", he said.

Hamid said he deplores the government's move to label armed groups in Papua as terrorist. According to Hamid, the government should instead focus on investigating case of human rights violations and ending the extrajudicial killings in Papua.

"The government should focus on investigating these cases and ending the extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations by law enforcement agencies in Papua and West Papua, rather than focus on the terrorist label", he said.

Earlier this afternoon, Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD officially announced that armed criminal groups (KKB) in Papua had been included in the category of terrorist organisations.

This he said was in accordance with Law Number 5/2018 on Revisions to Law Number 15/2003 on enacting into law Government Regulation in Lieu of Law Number 1/2002 on the Eradication of Terrorism.

"The government considers that organisations and people in Papua that commit widespread violence are categorised as terrorists", said Mahfud during a press conference broadcast on the Ministry's YouTube channel on Thursday.

Mahfud also said that the government is acting in accordance with an earlier statement by People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo and the leaders of other state institutions who declared that armed criminal groups are committing brutal and widespread violence in Papua.

Mahfud claimed that not a few social, religious and regional government figures as well as members of the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) in Papua have visited the offices of the Coordinating Ministry for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs to offer their support.

"(They gave their) support to the Indonesian government to take actions which are necessary in order to deal with the violence which has been occurring recently in Papua", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty: Label Teroris KKB di Papua Berpotensi Perpanjang Pelanggaran HAM".]