STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT. Bintang Mountains Resort Police are currently investigating a murder committed by an armed criminal group (KKB) in an illegal mine site in Awinbon, Papua, on Wednesday. Papua Police Spokesperson Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said the armed criminal group beheaded the victim, a civilian identified as Azis.
West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Organization (TPNPB-OPM) Spokesperson Sebby Sambom said the murderer was a member of the Yahukimo armed criminal group, led by Bocor Sobolim, who claimed that the man they murdered was an intelligence officer. The horrific video of murder was circulated by the group through social media.
House Commission I Member Dave Akbarshah Fikarno on Wednesday suggested that the government establish a permanent military base in Papua in order to comprehensively solve problems in Papua. He said this measure was necessary since separatist groups continue to pose a serious threat and have created a tense situation, such as the shooting in Nduga.
172/Praja Wira Yakthi Military Resort Commander Brigadier General JO Sembiring on Wednesday denied the Armed Criminal Group’s claim that the 13 victims of the shooting are intelligence officers. He affirmed that all victims are civilians.
Yotam Bugiangge, a former Indonesian Army member in the 756/MWS Infantry Battalion with the rank of the private second class, reportedly joined the armed criminal group (KKB) in Papua. Papua Police’s Director for General Crimes Faizal Rahmadani on Wednesday said that based on the investigation of the crime scene and witness statements, it was revealed that KKB leader Egianus Kogoya and Bugiangge were the masterminds of the attack in Nogoloid Village, Nduga Regency, Papua, that killed more than 10 people on Saturday. Before deserting the military, Bugiangge served in Senggi, Keerom Regency, Papua. He abandoned service while on duty on Dec. 17, 2021, carrying an organic military weapon, the Pindad SS1 V1 5.56 mm caliber.
Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Coordinating Minister Mahfud MD in his Instagram account on Wednesday reiterated the government’s position against terrorist groups in Papua. “We still adopt a security strategy in civil order,” Mahfud said. He explained that the strategy was territorial, employing regular officers rather than special operations officers, but that monitoring has been increased.
Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Coordinating Minister Mahfud MD and Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko, in a Thursday press conference following the recent murder of 11 Papuan civilians, said Papua is not synonymous with armed criminal groups. “Papua is part of the Republic of Indonesia, not our enemy. The only enemy is the armed criminal groups,” said Mahfud. Mahfud also said the government would not blindly retaliate, and that there are no military operations using weapons except in circumstances when the government needs to ensure the security of Papuans.
Nothing can justify the act of violence that claimed the lives of 11 people and wounded another, all unarmed civilians, on Jul. 16 in Nogolaid Village in Nduga Regency, Papua. The West Papua National Liberation Army (TNPB), the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) separatist group, has claimed responsibility for the attack over its opposition to the formation of three new provinces in the country’s easternmost territory.
Whatever their motive behind the mass murder of civilians, the OPM and its TNPB have only demonstrated their blatant disregard for both human life and human rights, the very accusations they have leveled against the Indonesian military. The brutal attack clearly undermines the efforts to restore peace and justice in Papua, and must therefore be condemned. Against the backdrop of the killings last weekend, calls have mounted for the government to change its security approach in Papua, with some lawmakers suggesting that more troops be deployed to capture the separatists and protect the people.
If the government intensifies its security operations or brings in more reinforcements to quell the armed separatists, the violence will only continue, dashing any hopes for peace in Papua. We do need to revisit the security approach in Papua that bears the tagline “NKRI harga mati” (Indonesia, nonnegotiable). It has only sowed resentment, as being part of the republic for 50 years has brought barely any prosperity for the Papuan people.