An activist shouts near a police line during a rally to commemorate a Papuan declaration of independence from Dutch rule, in Jakarta in December. (Reuters Photo/Darren Whiteside)

Govt Denies Opening of OPM Office in Wamena


FEBRUARY 18, 2016

Jakarta/Jayapura. The Free Papua Organization, or OPM, has announced the set up of an office in Wamena, Papua, in an effort to find international support for Papuan independence, a claim which the central government has denied according to local media.

The secret establishment on Monday of the office for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) was initiated by Solomon Island Prime Minister Manasye Sovagare, Sebby Sambom, spokesman for OPM, said.

"The leader of the Melanesian Spearhead Group [MSG] hopes that the presence of the Wamena office will strengthen international support for Papuan independence."

The ULMWP had earlier established offices in the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila and Solomon Island's Honiara.

"This is proof of MSG's support for our struggle," Sebby said.

But the Indonesian government has denied the OPM's claims, with presidential spokesman Johan Budi saying the Office of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs found "no such 'supported' establishment."

OPM media outlet reported that the name sign of the ULMWP office in Wamena has been taken down by local police, hours after the official announcement.

"The name sign may be brought down but ULMWP will never stop," Markus Haluk, a ULMWP leader, said.

Jakarta-based rights group Imparsial said ULMWP's representative offices are legitimate as the Indonesian government consider them a representation of Papuan people living overseas.

"I think it's better for the government to embrace them to make peace in the land of Papua," Imparsial Director Poengky Indarti told the Jakarta Globe.

The OPM has mounted a low-level insurgency for decades in the far eastern province of Papua, complaining the central government has given resource-rich region and unfairly low share of the state's wealth after becoming part of Indonesia in 1969.

Ever since, the OPM has pleaded for international support from the Melanesian community in the South Pacific.