Papua Tribal Leaders Speak Out Against OPM Anniversary Celebrations
Jayapura. Tribal leaders in Papua urged residents not to fly the Morning Star flag in commemoration of the Free Papua Movement’s July 1 anniversary, warning that the flag — which is banned in Indonesia — will only provoke further violence in the restive province.
The Free Papua Movement (OPM) has disseminated a text message asking Papuans to fly the Morning Star flag on Sunday to mark the 47th anniversary of the militant organization. The text message asked Papuans to stop their daily routines, fly the flag and fire their guns in the air in solidarity with the OPM.
But tribal leaders in Papua say that showing support for the OPM will only lead to further crackdowns and violence.
“Why should they raise the Morning Star flag during every commemoration of the OPM?” asked Philipus Halitopo, the head of mountain tribes in Jayapura and the neighboring district of Keerom. “This statement will cause unrest and terror. We, the people of Papua, don’t agree him [Lambert Pekikir, the leader of the OPM]. We call on all the people of Papua, especially those in Jayapura and Keerom not to be provoked by some groups’ attempts to stir up public disorder on July 1.”
Philipus said that Papuans should ignore the text messages and not be influenced by “false information and rumors.”
“All people should together maintain Papua’s security. To my brother Lambert Pekikir, please stop the plan; it won’t solve [our] problems. It’s not like Papua will gain independence because the Morning Star is being waved,” he added.
The leader of the Dani tribe issued a similar statement, explaining that the Lambert and the OPM are trying to stir unrest in the province.
“People should not answer Lambert’s call,” Bion Tabuni said. “It hasn’t even been 40 days since Mako Tabuni died. Don’t further our sorrows with these actions.”
The tribe is still mourning the loss of independence activist Mako, chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). Mako was fatally shot in a police raid in Jayapura on June 14 that human rights groups have likened to a state-sanctioned hit.
Police said that Mako was involved in a spate of deadly shootings in Jayapura. His organization plans to turn themselves in to police in a bid to prove their innocence.
The OPM does not speak for all Papuans, Bion said.
“If Lambert insists on forcing his will, the Dani tribe will be at the forefront fighting [the OPM],” Bion said.
The Mee Paniai tribe raised echoed the statements, with tribal leader Beny Gobay urging Papuans not to “get easily stirred up and provoked. In the end it is innocent people who will be victimized.”
The police and military plan to step up raids across Jayapura on Sunday, Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Alfred Papare said.
“The TNI and National Police forces will intensify patrols and raids in a number of places. We’ll station officers at vulnerable spots,” he said.