Labeling Papuan groups terrorist has 'burnt the bridge to a peaceful resolution'

CNN Indonesia – April 29, 2021
Veronica Koman with UN human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet in Sydney – October 8, 2019 (Kompas)

Jakarta – Lawyer and human rights activist Veronica Koman has commented on the Indonesian government's move to label the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) a terrorist group.

Through her private Twitter account @VeronicaKoman, she said that the decision would sever attempts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Papua.

"Indonesia has just burnt the bridge towards a peaceful resolution", wrote Koman in a Tweet seen by CNN Indonesia on Thursday April 29.

Koman believes that the label could trigger an escalation in the armed conflict in the land of the Cenderawasih as Papua is known. Not to mention, she said, concerns over possible human rights violations.

Indonesia has just declared the West Papua National Liberation Army a terrorist organisation. Indonesia has just burnt the bridge to a peaceful resolution. Expect escalating armed conflict and human rights abuses. – Veronica Koman (@VeronicaKoman) 9:26 AM Apr 29, 2021.

Earlier, Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD declared that the government has officially categorised the OPM and its armed activities as terrorist.

He also personally called on the TNI (Indonesian military) and the Polri (Indonesian police) to take firm action against the group adding that not a few of the victims in Papua have been civilians.

"The government has asked the Polri, the TNI, the BIN [National Intelligence Agency] and related agencies to immediately take rapid, firm and measured actions", said Mahfud during a press conference at the Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Ministry building on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta on Thursday April 29.

In response to the move, the OPM declared that it will challenge the decisions with the International Court of Justice (ICC). The ICC is the United Nation's top judicial body whose principle function is to hear and resolve disputes between member nations.

"The TPNPB [West Papua National Liberation Army] already has lawyers, we will send two of our lawyers [to the ICC] if Indonesia is prepared to include the TPNPB as a terrorist organisation, so we are very much ready to take the issue to the International Court", said TPNPB-OPM spokesperson Sebby Sambom when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Thursday. (mjo/pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Veronica Sebut Label OPM-KKB Teroris Putus Resolusi Damai".]