If you are someone who pays attention to what’s happening in Papua, especially regarding separatist movement in West Papua, you must have heard something named “The Global Campaign for UN Peacekeeping Mission to Papua”.
It is one of many accounts which promote the cause of West Papuan separatism. This account, however, is dedicated to rally the mass to support Free West Papua’s cause to summon the United Nations Peacekeeping troops to West Papua.
There are multiple reasons why the movement has not been getting the recognition they want from the world, and the United Nations specifically.
Why Papua Is Not Fitting for A Peacekeeping Operation
A peacekeeping operation by the United Nations would require a resolution (from Security Council) regarding the issue to be adopted first.
In order for the resolution to be adopted, there are steps of initial consultation which the Free West Papua supporters need to pass.
As a conflict develops, worsens, or approaches resolution, the UN is frequently involved in a number of consultations to determine the best response by the international community. According to the United Nations, these consultations would most likely involve:
1. Discussion with all relevant United Nations actors
This means that the Free West Papua supporters must obtain recognition from the majority of United Nations member states, especially those who have seats in the Security Council. Meanwhile, the representatives of Free West Papua were not granted any airtime in the last General Assembly (2018). Their presence was denied, since the Free West Papua movement was notorious for arbitrarily claiming United Nations’ support, as done by Octo Mote in 2012 and 2016. They claimed to have had the support from 117+ countries for West Papuan independence, only to be disclaimed by the United Nations later. The claim was thought as a publicity stunt.
2. The potential host government and the parties on the ground
The majority of Papuan and West Papuan population is actually the biggest opposition of the secessionist movement, having favored the governance by Indonesian administration since 1969 (“Act of Free Choice”) referendum. The referendum was adopted into a United Nations’ resolution.
3. Member States, including States that might contribute troops and police to a peacekeeping operation.
The Free West Papua would need support from the government of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands, who all oppose the separatist cause in Papua. Two major reasons for the rejection are the violence of the movement, and the lack of recognition from Indonesian government.
During this initial phase, the UN Secretary-General may request a strategic assessment to identify all possible options for UN engagement.
If the Security Council determines that deploying a UN Peacekeeping operation is the most appropriate step to take, it will formally authorize this by adopting a resolution. However, the Free West Papua’s cause of the request for peacekeeping operation is void.
“Decolonization” as A Wrong Cause
Among other requirements, there is one that is most crucial: The United Nations will have to nullify the previous resolution adopted in 1969. What the Free West Papua demands is the UN members to directly contradict a former resolution, which has never happened before. In cases of secessions like Western Sahara or other 16 territories, there were clear conflicts between two countries, or between two large groups of populations. A situation which is not happening in West Papua right now, with majority of the population are living and contributing to the national economy, using government fund in day-to-day basis.
The Free West Papua initially demanded access to attend United Nations General Assembly in order to put West Papua back into the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. Due to the previous fact, the member states did not consider it appropriate to grant them a seat.
Hoax Content in Free West Papua Accounts
Another problematic side to the separatists’ quest is that there are numerous false accusations, and even hoaxes, in every single of their propaganda post.
Several hoaxes to be busted from those claims are as follow:
- Hoax: TPNPB/OPM is non-violent.
Fact: TPNPB/OPM is clearly a military wing which uses violence as means to achieve their goals. In total, 20 have died in 18 OPM shootings between January and August 2018, 17 kidnapped (Arwanop Valley, April 2018), and 100+ villagers were isolated.
Fact: Over 1,000 civilian lives were at risk amid Indonesian Military (TNI) and liberation group (OPM) armed conflicts in Tembagapura district, Mimika regency, Papua, near copper mine Freeport, 1-5 April 2018.
OPM spokesperson Hendrik Wanmang said they had gathered civilians in Kampung Opitawak and OPM fighters had retreated and left the kampung to avoid civilians being mistaken for armed fighters. Three civilians were killed, and over 1,000 civilians were forced to hide in the forests.
Fact: OPM acquired weapons from the police and military personnel by force. The most famous incident was when OPM raided police weapon stash in 2011, as told by (former) general Pramono Edhie.
As an example, on October 26, 2018, a former member of the armed separatist group with the initials SN, handed over weapons in SP 5, Yapsi District, Jayapura. There was a Mouser type with serial number 2099T, following 5 ammunitions with 7,62 millimeters of caliber, given to the Indonesian Army which was received directly by Company B Battalion 756/WMS Commander, Captain (Inf) Thomson Panjaitan together with Pasiops Yonif 756/WMS and First Lieutenant (Inf) Robby Putra together with the members.
- Hoax: The Indonesian government neglects West Papuans’ welfare
Fact: OPM has seen and benefited from infrastructure development such as roads and healthcare facilities in Puncak District. Right now, Trans Papua roads in West Papua Province has been built entirely, which is 1,071 km long. In least developed area like Bintuni, the government built sophisticated, international-standard hospitals.
- Hoax: The Indonesian government neglects West Papuans’ welfare
- Hoax: The military is causing death of innocent Papuans
Fact: Approaching the regional election, OPM shot two Indonesian soldiers who were riding motorcycle taxi from point blank range in Puncak Jaya, August 2018.
Fact: OPM deliberately shot down a Dimonim Air armada, a plane containing election logistics. (Kenyam, 6 June 2018), only for their belief that the regional election is an ‘insult’ towards their ‘fight’.
And many others. With such credibility, the Free West Papua movement is not seen as a legitimate opposition towards the Indonesian government. Ergo, the United Nations, and the world in general, should only take them as criminals and terrorists.