Acts of Violence Committed by TPN OPM in West Papua

Separatist groups in West Papua have been accusing Indonesia for various human rights violations, including genocides. But the truth is, it is the separatist groups themselves that have been committing numerous crimes and threatening the safety of the citizens of West Papua.

The criminal acts are done by TPN OPM (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Operasi Papua Merdeka – National Liberation Army Free Papua Movement). This is not just an empty accusation because the organization itself has claimed their responsibility in several attacks for these past several months.


TPN is the military fraction of OPM. It was established on March 26 1973, following the group’s self-declaration of independence of West Papua on July 1, 1971. Goliath Tabuni was appointed as the leader of TPN OPM in 2012.

TPN OPM demands West Papua to be separated from the Republic of Indonesia and becomes an independent country. According to them, West Papua has been an independent state since December 1, 1961 when the colonial government created the state of West Papua that was separated from Indonesia. Obviously, this is not a valid claim since the colonial government never had the right to create a puppet state of West Papua in the very first place because the territory was actually a part of Indonesia.

Serious Crimes Committed by TPN OPM

Even though there are many historical evidences that can proof that West Papua has always been a part of Indonesia, it doesn’t stop the separatist groups to get what they want, and they even don’t hesitate to resort to violence.

In several last months of 2017 only, there are many violence acts conducted by TPN OPM. One of the most prominent acts of violence this group has done is terror and shooting, especially in Freeport area. A series of shooting has been terrorizing the people around Freeport area and an armed group allegedly related to TPN-OPM has claimed responsibility for the terror. As a matter of fact, TPN OPM has even declared war to the Indonesian army in Freeport area

The Police said they have figured out that there were at least two armed TPN OPM groups responsible for the series of shooting. Each group consists of at least 30 people and has around 10 military standard rifles. They confiscated some of the weapons from Indonesian army and some others come from unknown sources. Besides rifles and guns, the groups also have various traditional weapons from spears to bow and arrows.

It is very hard for the Indonesian army and police to conquer the rebel groups. It is not because their lack of capability but because TPN OPM used innocent citizens as human shield. They took hostage of at least 1,300 people in two villages, Kimbely and Banti, and cut their contact from the outside world. It limits the movement of the army because they want to avoid casualties.

Terrorizing and attacking the Indonesian police and army is one thing, but holding noncombatants hostage is definitely unacceptable. Since they blocked the roads to and from the village, it is very difficult for the citizens of the village to receive food and help. The rebel groups confidently proclaimed war, but they hide behind the noncombatants and it is certainly a cowardly act.

Besides taking the citizens as hostage and even cutting their contacts to the outside world, it is also reported that the rebel groups robbed the citizens and even raped a woman, which all were denied by TPN OPM. They even said that they didn’t take the citizens hostage. The citizens simply don’t want to leave their house due to the continuous armed contacts between TPN OPM and the Indonesian army.

Even though TPN OPM claimed responsibilities of some acts of violence and denied the others, what currently happening in West Papua is clear. There are rebel groups that threaten the safety of the citizens and the unity of the Republic of Indonesia.

There is a reason why TPN OPM conducts their acts of terror and violence in Freeport area. They do it to attract attention from the world. There are at least 22 countries involved in Freeport project including the United States and by creating a chaos in that specific area, there is no way they will not get international attention. They want the whole world, especially the United Nation to help them reclaiming their sovereignty from Indonesia.

However, by conducting violence, the rebel groups are clearly hurting their own family that is the citizen of West Papua. Besides, their claim of independence is invalid because West Papua has never been a sovereign state. Furthermore, we also need to question the real intention behind TPN OPM. Are they really want West Papua to be a sovereign state for the benefits of West Papuan? It is not a secret that West Papua is a place abundant with resources and many parties have interest in this area.


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