Maria Baru, Sorong City – The Indonesian government's labeling of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) as terrorists is actually the complete opposite of their decade long mission to fight for Papuan independence.
Traditional Papuan woman trader Mama Yosina Suruan, who is still traumatised to this day, claims to have witnessed firsthand her family being slaughtered by the Indonesian military on Biak Island in 1969.
"At the time my bapade [father's younger brother] and my mamade [mother's younger sister] were slaughtered by soldiers. I witnessed myself the viciousness of the Indonesian military. So, who are the terrorists? Is it the TPNPB-OPM or the Indonesian military? Everyone knows who the barbarians are in the land of Papua", she told Suara Papua on Saturday May 15.
Because of this, she rejects the terrorist label pinned on the TPNPB-OPM by the government. According to Suruan, to this day the TPNPB have been fighting to liberate the Papuan people from Indonesian colonialism.
"The TPNPB-OPM have the right to talk about West Papua liberation. The TPNPB-OPM are not terrorists. We are the OPM. We have the right to speak out. Yes, speak about Papuan independence. Speak about the land of Papua's future", she asserted.
The brutality of Indonesian security forces, said Suruan, was demonstrated during military operations in Biak.
"On account of being OPM, I watched myself my bapade and mamade being murdered by soldiers. At the time Hasannudin [regional military command] troops came in and slaughtered the Biak people. People said it was swept clean. A village near Ordori, they swept it clean. A whole village cleaned out. There were no people left. So the TPNPB are not a new thing. They've existed for a long time. The Papuan people have been fighting to stand firm on their only land, be free. Many heroes have already died such as Arnold Ap, Edu Mofu and others", she said.
Mama Suruan also remembers when security forces came into the jungle to pursue the TPNPB, but instead it was civilians who fell.
According to Suruan, the fight for independence by the TPNPB will never be eradicated because Papua's natural environment supports speaking out and fighting to save indigenous Papuans from the threat of annihilation.
"The Papuan people fighting in the forests are not terrorists. They fight for the right to safeguard Papua from evil people who would destroy it. The independence struggle is holy. The security forces shouldn't enter the forests. If you disturb a sleeping dog of course it will be angry. Likewise with the TPNPB, if the military and police pursue them into the forests, of course they will fight back. Of course they won't be silent", said Suruan.
Speaking in the same vein, Mama Nanda Ulimpa also rejects the TPNPB-OPM being labeled terrorists. She believes that the Indonesian government's policies and actions are simply to kill off the Papuan people and take control of Papua's natural wealth.
"The TPNPB-OPM are not terrorists. Terrorists kill indiscriminately. The TPNPB is fighting for independence. It's the TNI [Indonesian military] and Polri [Indonesian police] who are the terrorists. They often kill civilians in order to safeguard investment. The plan is the annihilation of the Papuan people", said Ulimpa.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Mama-mama Papua Tegaskan TPNPB-OPM Bukan Teroris".]