Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs: “Government is battling 19 armed criminal groups in Papua”

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Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud M. D. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO – Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud M. D. has admitted that the Government is battling up to 19 different Armed Criminal Groups (“ACG”), engaged in violent and separatist actions in Papua. He reiterates that the Government is not battling the Papuan people or the Papuan region: “Here is what we wish you ladies and gentlemen the citizen of Papua to understand: It is not you, our beloved citizens, that we are at war with. We are handling separatist groups in Papua – we are battling ACGs such as Kagoya, Legagak, Talenggeng, the illegal Student Militias. There are up to 19 of such separatist groups and movements who frequently act violently towards the people of Papua and their property, and it is them whom we have designated as terrorists,” Mahfud said in a Joint Work Meeting between his Ministry and the Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah – “DPD”) Commission I on Tuesday (25/05/2021). 

The Government is currently focusing on hunting out several groups, particularly KBB and Kagoya. However, Mahfud confirms that the Government has the will and intention to hunt out all of these separatist groups, even the smallest ones, for endangering and harming citizens in Papua. “The Army and the Police, who are tasked with the safety and security of citizens including battling threats like these groups, have successfully confiscated weapons that the ACGs use in their action. These include guns, bullets, and various implements that they use not only to attack members of the Army and the Police, but most importantly, civilians, native citizens of Papua,” he said. 

Mahfud reminds everyone that the intent of the Government is to develop Papua, and therefore the safety and security of its citizens as part of the Republic of Indonesia is most important. “How can one develop the country without securing the safety of its citizens? We do not wish to be violent against our own citizens in Papua; we seek to develop the area and generate comprehensive welfare for the citizens, in accordance with Presidential Instruction Number 9 of  2020 concerning the Acceleration of Welfare Development in Papua and West Papua,” he said. “This policy emphasizes the use of welfare action to solve problems in Papua.” 

Mahfud said that the Government labels the ACGs as “terrorists” because they terrorize the citizens of Papua. “This label certainly does not refer to Papuans in general. How could we call our own citizens terrorists? It is these people, these ACGs, who terrorize our citizens and whom we seek to eradicate. To make it simpler, we designate them with the label ACG plus the name of their leader, for example “ACG Lekagak”. We never say “Papua” in relation to them. This is because we know that “Papua” is the land, the ethnicity, and the culture – the very things that we want to protect from them. The Government never calls Papua “terrorist”, there’s no such thing. Papua is part of us, we want to protect our own part, that’s what the Government policy is,” he said. 

The Government does not set a specific time target for resolving ACGs that are categorized as terrorists in Papua. “It is true that we have not resolved this issue over decades. This is because we really prefer to approach everyone with dialogs first. Dialog, dialog, dialog. We don’t have a target really, as long as they’re there, security workers, law enforcers will still have work to do,” Mahfud stated in the Ministry of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Office, Jakarta, on Wednesday (19/05/2021). “We prioritize having dialogs with 90% of Papuan citizens to find the best solutions for problems there and to provide welfare for them. We also make efforts to connect with members of the groups that want Papua to become independent. However, it is these ACGs, it is these terrorists that continue to hurt citizens and destroy private property and public facilities and continue to make things difficult.” (eka)