The narrative of the West Papua Army (WPA) cannot be mentioned without referring to the establishment of Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) or Free Papua Organization. The two organizations are different, yet they are linked to each other.
OPM refers to all forms of independence movements in Papua Province and West Papua Province. This organization consists of three formations.
The first is the armed units. This formation has several armed groups, each holding limited territorial control without a single commander. Several regions also have protest and demonstration units that express political, military, and economic views.
The last formation consists of a small group located in foreign nations. It has to raise awareness of the current Papua issues and gain international support for the region’s independence.
WPA and OPM aim to fight for Papua’s independence, separated from the Republic of Indonesia.
Thus, these two organizations, especially OPM, are sometimes referred to as Kelompok Kriminal Bersenjata (KKB) or Armed Criminal Group, Kelompok Kriminal Separatis Bersenjata (KKSB) or Armed Separatist Criminal Group, and Kelompok Separatis Teroris Papua (KSTP) or Papuan Terrorist Separatist Group by Indonesian authorities and citizens.
What is West Papua Army (WPA)?
WPA refers to a coalition or unity of three West Papua military wing commands.
They are Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat (TPNPB) or West Papua National Liberation Army, Tentara Nasional Papua Barat (TNPB) or West Papua National Army, and Tentara Revolusi West Papua (TRWP) or West Papua Revolutionary Army.
Each military wing has a structured chain of command and discipline headquarters from Sorong to Merauke.
This coalition was established in 2017 during the Konferensi Tingkat Tinggi (KTT) or Special Summit Conference by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).
By the will of the three commandos, the West Papua Army was established according to the Principles of Internal Military Reconciliation and Consolidation.
However, upon the founding of WPA, the three organizations have not merged into a single command unit. Thus, there is neither a structured chain of command nor a strict agenda about their upcoming programs.
The Functions of WPA
The unification of WPA brings forth the notion of Papua’s independence. The members of WPA want the region to be separated from the Republic of Indonesia. Their cause is not without reasons.
For the last tens of years, the people of Papua have suffered many injustices regarding human rights violations at the hand of the Indonesian Government and Military.
Right now, however, the noble cause might have shifted to something else as the members of WPA are caught using violence against the local Papuans.
WPA and OPM believe the local people have the right to ask for independence and gain international recognition. At the OPM establishment’s initial stage, the organization’s members used diplomacy to solve several issues in Papua.
They worked together with the Indonesian government. However, the coordination fell apart when Indonesian authorities did not include representatives from Papua to join the New York Agreement in 1962.
In response, OPM, its branches, and its supporters have taken up arms against the Indonesian government and military.
TNI’s Respond Towards the WPA Establishment
Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI) or Indonesian National Armed Forces do not see the WPA as something threatening to Indonesia. It is because the military and political power of WPA is lacking.
In addition, the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia was widely recognized by the international community and the United Nations.
West Papua Army (WPA) propagates the idea of independence for Papua. Together with the three military wing commands, they use military power to obtain the international community’s acknowledgment to establish an independent country.
However, this effort might seem futile as the region does not yet have what it takes to be a country.