By Erric Permana
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) – The Indonesian government officially designated the West Papua National Liberation Army, an armed separatist group in far east of the archipelago, as a terrorist organization.
The decision was taken based on suggestions from the community leaders, security forces, and the Papuan regional government, said Mahfud MD, the coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs of the country.
“We consider their activities as terrorist acts and all affiliated groups as terrorists,” Mahfud said in his office on Thursday.
The West Papua National Liberation Army is one of three main armed separatist groups in West Papua engaged in rumbling conflict in the region.
West Papua was a colony of the Dutch until the early 1960s when Indonesia took control, cementing its rule with a referendum that followed.
A low-level armed rebellion by indigenous Papuans, who now make up about half the population after years of migration by people from other parts of Indonesia, has been rumbling ever since.
Violence flared again in recent months after the rebel groups increased their attacks on government-run facilities and killed dozens of civilians. The group killed an army general in an attack two days ago.
The minister asked the police, military, and the intelligence agency, along with related officials, to take firm action under the law.
At the same time, the minister warned the authorities not to target civilians while dealing with the armed groups.
According to Mahfud, President Joko Widodo instructed the BIN to carry out political intelligence activities by approaching key figures in Papua and conducting diplomacy along with the Foreign Ministry with neighboring countries.
The suggestion to designate the armed groups as terrorists were first submitted by the National Agency for the Eradication of Terrorism last month.
* Writing by Maria Elisa Hospita from Anadolu Agency's Indonesian language service.