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Expert: TNI commander's initiative to change term KKB to OPM 'meaningless'

Tempo - April 16, 2024

Yohanes Maharso Joharsoyo, Jakarta – TNI commander General Agus Subiyanto issued an order to the military to use the term Free Papua Movement (OPM) to refer to the separatist group in Papua.

Previously, they referred to them as KKB, short for Armed Criminal Group, which is also the term used by the National Police. Military observer from the Institute of Security and Strategic Studies (ISESS), Khairul Fahmi, called the change from KKB to OPM 'meaningless', as it was made only by the TNI, not a state policy.

"I would like to remind the TNI that their initiative to change the attribution means nothing without changes in state policies or political decisions," Khairul told Tempo on Monday, April 15.

According to Khairul, regardless of what the TNI calls them, the armed group in Papua exists for the purpose of separating from Indonesia. This means that referring to them as OPM is in fact recognizing their claim.

In an order dated April 5, 2024, TNI commander General Agus Subiyanto instructed the XVII/Cendrawasih Military Regional Command and the XVIII/Kasuari Military Regional Command and ranks to reuse the term OPM.

Khairul said that as long as there were no changes in state policies and decisions, the TNI's military operations other than war (OMSP) in Papua would remain the same as before, namely the TNI assisting the police in maintaining security and order. "It is not the TNI's operation to combat separatist movements or armed rebellion," he said.

He also reminded that this change in terminology actually has the potential to escalate the conflict in Papua. The separatist group, Khairul said, will use violence as a way to exert their existence and deliver their message of independence.

Khairul said that attacks and roadblocks are common practices used by armed separatist groups as part of their guerrilla warfare strategy. Their objectives are terror, provocation and propaganda.

Therefore, Khairul urged the government to be careful before making the change as a state decision, as it will be a decision that will also have an impact on the international response.

"Before the change of status is actually implemented, the government must ensure its capabilities and readiness," he warned.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1856936/expert-tni-commanders-initiative-to-change-term-kkb-to-opm-meaningles