West Papua

Free West Papua

The Papua conflict is an ongoing conflict between the Indonesian Government and portions of the indigenous populations of West Papua in the Indonesian provinces ofPapua and West Papua on the island of New Guinea; in which the Indonesian government has been accused of conducting a genocidal campaign against the indigenous inhabitants.

Since the withdrawal of the Dutch colonial administration from the Netherlands New Guinea in 1962, and the illegal implementation of Indonesian governance in 1963 and the formal absorption of West Papua into Indonesia in 1969, the Free Papua Movement (OPM), a militant Papuan-independence organisation, has conducted a low-level guerilla war against the Indonesian state, targeting the Indonesian military and police, as well as engaging in the kidnapping of both non-Papuan Indonesian settlers and foreigners.

In December 1949, at the end of the Indonesian National Revolution, theNetherlands agreed to recognise Indonesian sovereignty over the territories of the former Dutch East Indies, with the exception of Western New Guinea, which the Dutch continued to hold as Netherlands New Guinea. The nationalist Indonesian government argued that it was the successor state to the whole of the Dutch East Indies and wanted to end the Dutch colonial presence in the archipelago. The Netherlands argued that the Papuans were ethnically different and that the Netherlands would continue to administer the territory until it was capable of self-determination. From 1950 on the Dutch and the Western powers agreed that the Papuans should be given an independent state, but due to global considerations, mainly theKennedy admini stration‘s concern to keep Indonesia on their side of the Cold War, the United States pressured the Dutch to sacrifice Papua’s independence and transfer the country to Indonesia.

In 1962, the Dutch agreed to relinquish the territory to temporary United Nations administration, signing the New York Agreement, which included a provision that a plebiscite would be held before 1969. The Indonesian military organised this vote, called the Act of Free Choice in 1969 to determine the population’s views on Papua and West Papua’s future; the result was in favour of integration into Indonesia. In violation of the Agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands, the vote was a show of hands in the presence of the Indonesian military, and only involved 1025 hand picked people who were forced at gunpoint to vote for integration with Indonesia, much less than 1% of those who should have been eligible to vote. The legitimacy of the vote is hence disputed by independence activists, who launched a campaign of protests against the military occupation of West Papua by Indonesia.

West Papuans have conducted various protests and ceremonies raising their flag for independence orfederation with Papua New Guinea, and accuse the Indonesian government of indiscriminate violence and of suppressing their freedom of expression. Many West Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian military since 1969 and the Indonesian governance style has been compared to that of a police state, suppressing freedom of political association and political expression. The Indonesian Government restricts foreign access to the Papua and West Papua provinces due to sensitivities regarding its suppression of Papuan nationalism.

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