A rally in Jakarta in December last year in commemoration of the West Papuan declaration of independence from Dutch rule. (Reuters Photo/Darren Whiteside)

Papua Police Detain 2 People for Setting Up OPM Office in Wamena


FEBRUARY 18, 2016

Jayapura/Jakarta. Police in Papua have detained two people deemed "mainly responsible" for allegedly establishing an office for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) in Wamena, a police official said.

The Free Papua Organization (OPM) announced the "secret" establishment on Monday of the office, which it said was "aimed at seeking international support for Papuan independence," and "initiated by the Melanesian community."

Police have since taken down the signage on the Wamena office and arrested two people identified only as M.H. and E.W., Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw said late on Wednesday (17/02).

"They are the brains behind this," the police chief said. It is alleged that the initials M.H. refer to Markus Haluk, leader of the ULMWP.

"They are being questioned to establish who installed the signage outside the offices. If they are proved to have established an organization that tends to run contrary to the state's vision, they will be prosecuted," Paulus said.

He added that Monday's event was actually an official announcement of the establishment of the Papua Customary Council (DAP).

"It was just an installation of signage [outside the office] by those who wanted to take advantage of the moment. They used the event for propaganda purposes," he said. "Thus there was no ULMWP office."

In his response to the police's action to remove the signage, Markus Haluk, once a chairman of the Central Highlands Papuan Student Association, said: "The name sign may be brought down, but ULMWP will never stop."

The Jakarta Globe has tried to contact Markus by phone but he was not immediately available for comment on Thursday. "I'm a bit busy, please contact me later," Markus said.

The Indonesian government earlier denied the OPM's claims of the opening an office in Wamena, saying there was "no such 'supported' establishment."

The OPM has mounted a low-level insurgency for decades in the far-eastern province of Papua, claiming that the central government has given the resource-rich region an 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.