Remember TRIKORA: The Hero, The Strategy, and The Forgotten

West papua -
West papua -

Taking place at the north square of Yogyakarta Palace, Soekarno, President at that time, announced the Three Commands for The People (TRIKORA) in 19th December 1961. This command was to reclaim Papua back as part of Indonesia.

After the Indonesia independent declaration and many negotiations with the Dutch, the Dutch

insisted on keeping Papua in their hands. Therefore, since diplomatic way had no positive results for both parties, a war was inevitable. Regarding this, Soekarno gave three commands for Indonesians, especially the military to reclaim Papua. The first command was to stop the establishment of Papua country. The second command was to hoist up Indonesian flag at Papua. And the last command was to have general mobilization to release Papua from the grip of Dutch’s hands.

Indonesia started to seek weapon support from foreign countries before the conflict arisen. Indonesia contacted the USA asking for help, but the USA refused Indonesia’s proposal. Later, at the end of December 1960, General A.H. Nasution went to Moskwa, Soviet Union, and succeeded to attain a weapon agreement with the value around $2,5 Billion. The arrival of Soviet Union battle machines assured Indonesia’s Government to go to the war against the Dutch provocation.

TRIKORA Strategy

To implement TRIKORA, the Government ordered Soeharto to form a unit called the Mandala Commando to release Papua. Based in Makassar, Soeharto developed three phases to reclaimed Papua; i.e.:

  • The Infiltration phase. This phase was operated until 1962, where the military was doing intrusion in Papua to release this province.

The Ground Force of Indonesia’s National Army took part in the first phase, with the help of the Navy and Air Force. The Police Department also set up their mobile brigades in Ambon and Gorom Islands as a preparation to attack west part of Papua Island.

  • The Exploitation phase. This phase was started in the early of 1963. In this period, they attacked the important posts of the Dutch Government in Papua.
  • The Consolidation phase. This phase was aimed to fully control all Papua regions using massive forces.

The Battle of Aru Sea

This battle took place on 15th January 1962, when Indonesia’s three battleships, i.e., KRI Macan Kumbang (Panther), KRI Macan Tutul (Leopard), and KRI Harimau (Tiger) were patrolling in the position of 4°49′ South Latitude and 135°02’ East Longitude. The Dutch Neptune airplane fired their shots around 9 PM, and the Netherlands submarine gave a warning shot which fell near KRI Harimau. Commodore Yos Sudarso gave an order to pull back, but unfortunately, the ship controller of KRI Macan Tutul was jammed, and the ship kept going ahead. The Dutch submarine thought that it was a maneuver to attack them, they immediately attacked KRI Macan Tutul with numerous shots, and Commodore Yos Yudarso died as a hero during the battle.

The navy then prepared Jayawijaya Operation, which was the greatest Amphibia operation in Indonesia’s Military history. This operation was supported by 100 battleships and 16,000 soldiers.

Conflict Resolution

The conflict of Papua was resolved after the New York agreement was established. The New York negotiation meeting was held in the United Nations headquarter in New York, 15th August 1962. This meeting was initiated by the USA, and it was Ellsworth Bunker, a diplomat from the USA, who became the mediator in this meeting.

The result of this meeting was:

  • Papua should be given to UNTEA, 1st October 1962 at the latest. The Netherlands flag would be removed and replaced by the United Nations Flag.
  • Indonesian Army operating in Papua would stay in Papua and would be under the supervision of UNTEA
  • The Netherlands military forces should be withdrawn as soon as possible and returned to the Netherlands.
  • Indonesian flag would soon hoist up in Papua, side by side with the United Nation flag since 3rd December 1962.
  • Papua Government would be under the supervision of UNTEA and would be handed to Indonesian Government in 1st of May 1963 at the latest.

On May 1963, the west part of Papua Island was given back to Indonesia by the Dutch Government. Based on the agreement as well, Indonesia’s government was obliged to comply with the Act of Choices for Papua people. In the year 1969, the Act of Choices (PEPERA) was proposed to Papuans to give them the right to choose to stay with Indonesia or to leave, and most of Papua people chose to stay with the Republic Indonesia.

The Forgotten Heroes

Herlina Kasim -
Herlina Kasim –

During the Trikora operation, so many lives had been taken by the battle. Most people know Yos Sudarso who fought during the battle of Aru Sea. But not many people know, for example, Herlina Kasim and Captain Wiratmo.

Herlina Kasim was a woman soldier for TRIKORA operation. She received gold around 0,5 kilograms as an award for her bravery during the operation. She was the first woman that volunteered herself to jump over the forest in Papua. She passed away in January 2017. And Captain Wiratmo was the captain of Macan Tutul ship that was involved in the battle of Aru Sea in 1962. He died during the battle.

So many names have been forgotten in the past years. However, their legacy stays forever, and after a long dispute, Papua finally becomes part of Indonesia.