AWPA condemns the continuing statements from Indonesian officials concerning the Free Papua movement in West Papua.
The Indonesian government has declared the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) as "terrorists".
The decision was announced by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, at an online press conference in Jakarta on Thursday.
Joe Collins of AWPA said, "The possibility of naming the OPM as a terrorist organisation by the Indonesian Government has come up regularly in the past but has never being implemented before. The decision to do so on Thursday is obviously a reaction to the death of Maj. Gen. Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha."
AWPA believe that "This is totally counterproductive and means that any West Papuan could be arrested on the whim of security force personal. It could also be used against civil society groups in West Papua protesting about human rights abuses, environmental destruction and to curb free speech and the media."
Statements such as the OPM must be crushed and that the police, military state intelligence body, and related apparatuses should take swift, firm, and measured actions. Can only escalate an already tense situation in the territory.
After a clash between the security forces and the TPNPB, local media has reported that the residents of a number of villages near where the clash took place fled their homes during the armed altercation and were still too scared to return home.
Area of clashes
Human rights groups in Indonesia and West Papua have also declared the decision to be counterproductive.
"TEMPO reported that The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) assessed that labeling the armed criminal groups in Papua terrorists is an attempt to silence voices that demand justice.
"The label is nothing more than an attempt to silence voices demanding justice in Papua. This will certainly worsen conditions in Papua," KontraS deputy coordinator Rivanlee Anandar told Tempo on Thursday, April 29.
He opined that it will have implications for the legitimacy of huge military deployment to the region, the power of security forces in responding to the situation in Papua, and the stigmatization of indigenous Papuans (OAP) who voice their rights. "There is also a potential to cause civilian casualties," he added."
The history of conflict in the territory has shown that aggressive security approaches do not work in West Papua and can only lead to an escalation of violence.