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Militants in Indonesia's restive Papua region increase online presence

Benar News - August 17, 2020

Papua, Indonesia's eastern-most province, has been in a grip of a civil unrest. The Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka or OPM) is an umbrella term for the independence movement established during 1965 in the West Papua territory which is currently being administrated by Indonesia as the provinces of Papua and West Papua, also formerly known as Papua, Irian Jaya and West Irian. The rebel West Papua Liberation Army Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat (TPNB) is the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

The TPNB has now increased its online presence. On July 5, an account in the name of an armed Papua separatist group-Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat (TPNPB), or West Papua National Liberation Army – emerged on Twitter. The account referred to itself as 'TPNPB News' and immediately began posting video footage and images of the group's Komando Daerah Pertanahan (KODAP, or regional defence commands), located in the Paniai, Nduga, and Bintang Mountains regencies of Papua province. As of July 20, its audience remained small, having attracted only 57 followers, before being suspended by Twitter on a later unspecified date.

On Facebook, a page called 'The TPNPB News' has 19,770 followers as of August 13, 2020. This page describes its mission as that of "informing current affairs and alert world attention of the West Papua's freedom and self-determination." The TPNPB News Facebook account refers to itself as the group's "official news agency". A check on the account using Facebook's page transparency feature – intended to help Facebook users better understand the purpose of a page – shows that it is run from Australia. The page carries statements from the local TPNPB units as well as from the group's leadership. A post published on the page on July 3, carried a statement from Tabuni, described as the TPNPB's "Supreme Commander". In the post, Tabuni claimed that he presided over 33 KODAPs, all of which he had ordered to "take up arms against Indonesia". The post identified an individual named Lekagak Telenggen as the group's "Commander of general operations". The page last posted on August 11, 2020. As per the post, the TPNPB obtained a secret document belonging to the Indonesian Government which called for open military operations in Central Mountains of Papua and pitting Papuans against Papuans.

On You Tube, the militant group runs a channel under the name "Central Secretariat of TPNPB-OPM", which has more than 10000 subscribers. The You Tube channel has the following description, "The long journey of the West Papua National Liberation Army which was formed two years after the proclamation of July 1, 1971, namely on March 26, 1973, was born an embryo that emerged with a nationalist/patriotic spirit of a struggle for liberation of the beloved West Papua Land and Nation."

The TPNPB's online presence spans various platforms to reach diverse audiences. The group's outlets on social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram, predominantly feature Indonesian-language content. This indicates that they are being used by the TPNPB to build support inside Indonesia for the armed separatist movement.

Source: https://www.newdelhitimes.com/militants-in-indonesias-restive-papua-region-increase-online-presence