Jayapura – "Since it was first established on November 19, 2008, the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) has always been confronted by many challenges including attempts at criminalisation and disbandment by the state through the institutions of the TNI [Indonesian military] and Polri [Indonesian police]."
Thus wrote KNPB national spokesperson Ones Suhuniap in his notes in the lead up to the 13th anniversary of the KNPB on Friday.
"Attempts at criminalization since 2009 until now in 2021 are still being continued through the TNI and Polri", wrote Suhuniap on Wednesday November 17.
The first challenge, he said, was the first coordination post at the grave of assassinated independence leader Theys Hiyo Eluay in Sentani, Jayapura regency, which was forcibly dismantled by Indonesian security forces on the orders of the Jayapura regent at the time.
"Because the fist coordinating post was dismantled on December 30, 2008, in the end the KNPB established the Papua task force headquarters near Bapak [Mr] Theys Eluay's grave", he said.
Following this in 2009, the KNPB was listed by the government as a terrorist and criminal organisation.
"Australian academic Dr. Jason MacLeod clarified that the KNPB was a civil movement organisation conducting a peaceful urban struggle. In the end, the KNPB's status as a terrorist and criminal organisation was removed", explained Suhuniap.
When it was declared a terrorist and criminal organisation, all of the KNPB's activists were put on the police's wanted persons list (DPO). As a consequence, they all sought refuge in the forests, on Abe Mountain, some even hid in Sabron, Jayapura.
"In the forests on Abe Mountain, the KNPB held its first mass consultation (Mubes) in the jungle", he said.
A year later, in 2019, Suhuniap said that the KNPB began promoting its 1st Congress which was eventually held in Sentani.
"The Congress gave birth to three resolutions, including diplomatic unity, Papuan military unity and civilian unity through representative institutions", he said.
Attempts at criminalization did not however end. In 2021 the KNPB was again accused of being an anarchist and criminal organisation.
"Several criminal actions which were part of a plot were concocted, and then KNPB's chairperson Mako M Tabuni was shot dead by members of the Special Forces (Kopassus) and the Indonesian police at the State Housing Company (Perumnas) 3 complex in Waena. Then Hubertus Mabel was killed by the Indonesian military in Wamena".
Suhuniap revealed, "The state through the security forces pushed through a proposal and proposed to the DPRP [Papua Regional House of Representatives], the DPR [House of Representatives] and the Mendagri [Ministry of Home Affairs] that they hold a plenary session to disband the KNPB after the murder of its chairperson and deputy chairperson".
In the same year, despite pressure from the military, the KNPB held an Extraordinary Congress (KLB) in Timika.
"In 2016 the Papua regional police issued a proclamation prohibiting the KNPB from holding demonstrations and proposed to the central government that the KNPB be immediately disbanded", said Suhuniap.
None of these efforts by the state made the KNPB retreat a single step. Quite the opposite, said Suhuniap, the KNPB defied the regional police's proclamation by occupying the Papua Mobile Brigade (Brimob) Command Headquarters in Kotaraja on May 1, 2016.
Despite ongoing mental terror and repression by the security forces and their accomplices, in 2018 the KNPB aggressively built a consolidation until it succeeded in holding the 2nd Congress at the Vietnam Village in the State Housing Company 3 Complex.
"The second congress gave birth to a political resolution, namely a national civil strike (MSN)", said Suhuniap.
In 2021 the KNPB was criminalised by blaming them for attacks committed by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) and incessant propaganda by buzzers accusing the KNPB of wanting to thwart the 20th National Games in Papua.
"These accusations were just nonsense, because they were indeed not proven", he asserted.
Finally, he said, last week plain clothed police arrived at the home of a resident in the Expo Waena area after hearing that KNPB activists were eating a meal together.
In the first incident on November 9, police arrived at the home of KNPB General Chairperson Agus Kossay who was eating a meal. In the second, on November 13, police returned to the same location and even, according to Suhuniap, raided local residents' homes.
"Efforts at criminalization, propaganda and plots which continue to be played out by the colonialists against the KNPB have made us stronger, more confident and even more mature in confronting the challenges of the struggle for West Papua", said Suhuniap.
"None of these efforts have made the KNPB retreat from the struggle, rather what has been done by Indonesia against the KNPB has provided the strength to maintain the struggle for West Papua national liberation".
KNPB Chairperson Warpo Sampari Wetipo meanwhile, said that the KNPB as a media of the West Papuan ordinary people continues to be consistent in its mission of urban civil struggle.
"Regardless of the attempts and actions by Indonesian security forces against the KNPB it has never broken our spirit of struggle. The KNPB believes in the agenda of the right to self-determination which has been fought for up until now", he asserted.
Speaking in the same tone as Suhuniap, Wetipo said, "For as long as the Papuan people are not given the democratic space to determine their own future (self-determination), the KNPB will continue to exist throughout the land of Papua".
"The KNPB has broadened its roots in Papua, from Sorong to Merauke. together with the oppressed people fighting to regain West Papuan independence", he said.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Jelang HUT ke-13, KNPB Konsisten Berjuang".]