It (the policy shift) has made us not hesitate to take steps.
Badung, Bali (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Military (TNI) chief's decision to call the Free Papua Organization (OPM) by its given name would affect TNI's approach in Papua, the Chief of Army Staff (KSAD), General Maruli Simanjuntak, said.

"It (the policy shift) has made us not hesitate to take steps," he told journalists on Bali Island on Friday regarding the change in TNI's policy on using the term "armed criminal groups" or "KKB" since April 5, 2024.

TNI Commander General Agus Subiyanto publicly referred to KKB in Papua as OPM on April 5, Simanjuntak noted, adding that the policy shift has positively affected the performance of TNI personnel on the ground.

Simanjuntak was in Bali to join an activity to release baby turtles into the sea on Pandawa Beach in Badung district.

He said that due to the use of the term KKB for years, soldiers in Papua remained hesitant about taking the necessary measures against KKB members as it was not easy to differentiate KKB members from non-KKB members.

With the policy shift, army personnel in Papua will no longer feel hesitant to take the necessary measures against those carrying weapons and posing a threat to the safety of security personnel and people, he added.

Simanjuntak did not delve into the impact of the policy shift on the TNI and National Police's duties and functions in Papua. He advised journalists to ask the TNI commander about it.

Earlier, General Subiyanto had called OPM by its given name and issued a letter directing the XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command to use the term OPM from April 5.

The policy shift changed the decision made by the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs on April 29, 2021, to refer to KKB as KST or separatist terrorist groups.

Over the past few years, armed Papuan groups have often employed hit-and-run tactics against Indonesian security personnel and mounted acts of terror against civilians in the districts of Intan Jaya, Nduga, and Puncak to stoke fear among the people.

The targets of such acts of terror have included construction workers, motorcycle taxi (ojek) drivers, teachers, students, street food vendors, and also civilian aircraft.

On December 2, 2018, an armed Papuan group brutally killed 31 workers from PT Istaka Karya who were engaged in the Trans Papua project in Kali Yigi and Kali Aurak in Yigi sub-district, Nduga district.

On March 2, 2022, several members of an armed Papuan group operating in Beoga sub-district, Puncak district, killed eight Palaparing Timur Telematika (PTT) workers, who were repairing a base transceiver station (BTS) tower belonging to state-owned telecommunications operator Telkomsel.

On February 7, 2023, New Zealander pilot Phillip Mark Mehrtens was taken hostage by the Egianus Kogoya-led armed group. He was piloting an aircraft belonging to Indonesian airline Susi Air when he was captured by the armed group. Members of the group set his aircraft on fire shortly after it landed in Nduga district.

On October 16, 2023, Papuan separatists attacked several traditional gold miners in Yahukimo district, Papua Pegunungan province, killing seven of them.

On November 25, 2023, four soldiers were killed in a gunfight with Papuan rebels in Paro sub-district, Nduga district, Papua province.

Thereafter, on January 19, 2024, a gunfight broke out between Indonesian security personnel and members of an armed group operating in Intan Jaya district, Central Papua.

A Brimob ranger named Alfando Steve Karamoy sustained gunshot wounds in the clash.

Then, on April 10, 2024, the commandant of the 1703-04 Aradide Sub-district Military Command, Second Lieutenant Oktovianus Sogalrey, was shot dead by Papuan rebels in Paniai district, Central Papua.

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Translator: Rolandus N, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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