A commander from the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN) has categorically denied any responsibility or involvement in an alleged bombing campaign against security force targets in Wamena and Jayapura, joining a chorus of Papua observers raising doubts about the Indonesian police allegations against pro-independence activists
Troops from the Indonesian army (TNI) and Australian-trained Detachment 88 counter-terror unit conducted a violent raid on September 29 against activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in Wamena, arresting 8. The eight have been charged with various offences, including possession of explosive devices and Makar (treason).
Citizen journalists from SuaraPapua.com made contact with the Commander of the Kodap (Liberation Command Area) I of TPN, Colonel David Darko on Tuesday (2/10) afternoon, who confirmed the bombs in Jayapura, Wamena and throughout Papua, had no connection to the TPN OPM.
"So (the) TPN OPM states assertively, that we are not responsible for any action with bombs, because OPM is not a terrorist organisation, but an organisations of national struggle for Papua, (and for) basic rights to self-determination as any other nation on earth," Darko told SP.
He said it was a struggle for the liberation of the people, and "The struggle by TPN-OPM is dignified and with full responsibility for the rights of the national struggle," he said. This unequivocal statement, according to David Darko, is to give notice to all parties not to associate the OPM with bombs or terror.
The non-violent activists were allegedly arrested in connection with a small bomb blast at a Wamena police station. Detachment 88 anti-terror police claim they found explosive materials at the KNPB offices, but human rights observers across Papua have suggested the police themselves planted the materials and questioned the truthfulness of police claims.
Ferry Marisan, the director of the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy in Papua (Elsham) told the Jakarta Globe, "It [the evidence] must have been fabricated by police, they placed the explosives in the office so the police would have a reason to arrest them."
Victor Yeimo, the international spokesperson for KNPB currently in hiding after threats of arrest for subversion, ridiculed the police assertion that the arrested activists were involved in the attack on the police station, or in making or using bombs, or engaging in acts of terror.
"West Papuan people are not involved with these bombs, and still do not know how to make bombs," Yeimo told West Papua Media on September 30. KNPB has previously and publicly pledged its commitment to non-violence, saying that it is committed to the use of "civil power"
Members of the KNPB have also been subject to an escalating wave of repression by Indonesian security forces across Papua, since the beginning of an anti-violence civil resistance campaign earlier in 2012, in response to a series on mysterious "unknown persons" (OTK) shootings that had killed over 20 people since 2011.
These shootings, widely believed across Papuan civil society to be the work of Kopassus Indonesian special forces creating violence to be used as a pretext for a declaration of martial law, peaked with the brazen daylight execution by Detachment 88 officers of KNPB Jayapura Chairman Mako Tabuni on June 6 this year.
Papuan civil society sources have claimed by SMS and email to West Papua Media that the current campaign of bombings and explosions is connected to the October visit of Indonesian President, General Yudhoyhono, to the UK. SBY, as the president is known, is believed to be signing off on major defence deals with UK arms corporations, and will be pressing for increased anti-terror cooperation.
SBY is also being targeted currently by human rights activists connected with the KNPB in the UK, who have offered a GBP#50,000 bounty for a citizen's arrest of the Indonesian President for Crimes Against Humanity. Civil society sources believe that the campaign of crackdown of KNPB activists accused of terror acts is being orchestrated to shut down Papua rights campaigning in the UK.
The TPN Commander Darko stated that the TPN was not allied with the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in any political or organisational sense. "We also had nothing to do with the Committee at all as we are different from them," Darko told SP.
The new Papua Police Chief, Inspector General Tito Karnavian – the former head of Detachment 88, conceded the TPN-OPM claim to not engage in terrorist bombings, but said to wait for the court process.
"This case is being handled, and let us see it in court. Whether they are involved or not. Let the court decide, " he said. Honesty awaited the court because the reverse case would cause turmoil with the grassroots people of Papua, Karnavian explained to assembled journalists.
However, with Papua still closed to international journalists or independent human rights observers, few West Papuan activists believe that the flawed court system in Papua will be able to deliver a legitimate and fair trial.