04/29/2021, 15.29
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Jakarta labels Papuan separatists as 'terrorist'

by Mathias Hariyadi

This follows the latest violent incidents. On Sunday a regional intelligence chief was killed in an ambush; on Tuesday, a policeman died in a gunfight. President Widodo orders a manhunt. Critics say the decision will have unpredictable “consequences”.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The Indonesian government has designated a Papuan separatist group as a “terrorist group”.

Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mohammad Mahfud MD made the announcement today, saying that “armed criminal group” (KKB[i]), i.e. the West Papua National Liberation Army, was responsible for deadly attacks against civilians.

Brigadier General Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha was fatally shot last Sunday when he and his staff were ambushed while visiting the remote Dambet area, Puncak district, Papua Province.

The general, who was chief of intelligence in Papua, is the highest-ranking military officer to be killed by the separatist group in Papua during patrol operations in recent months.

The last deadly incident occurred on Tuesday, when a policeman called Komang was killed in a gunfight with the separatists.

As a result, the Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his government decided to designate the separatist movement as a “terrorist” organisation and give the military the powers to pursue a real manhunt, with the help of police and internal security.

According to Minister Mahfud, the decision to include the separatist group among terrorist movements is in line with existing anti-terrorism legislation (Laws 5/2018 and 15/2003).

For him, “Those who perform acts of violence that affect people and other public facilities because of their different political ideology and defence are called terrorist.”

However, critics have slammed the government’s decision. Speaking to AsiaNews, J. Kristiadi of the Centre Strategic for International Studies (CSIS) calls the move “too risky” with unpredictable “consequences”.

Members of pro-independence groups see themselves as freedom “fighters” struggling “for Papua's independence,” so the key element in their fight “is politics and ideology”.

It would be preferable that members of armed criminal groups be held accountable and “brought to justice,” Kristiadi added.

[i] kelompok kriminal bersenjata (KKB).

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