The Truth About West Papua Post Indonesian Proclamation of Independence

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West Papua is a part of Papua. It was formerly known as Irian Jaya, and not something that was often discussed on national historical books to educate the youngsters of Indonesia, thus causing a lack of attention and awareness to the history. West Papua plays a crucial role in the history of Indonesia because they contribute greatly in making of The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia, NKRI).

Though conflicted and troubled, West Papua has always been a part of Indonesia since the very beginning. The conflict of Papua is a conflict that occurred in the land of Papua that started early in 1961 and ended with the Determination of the People’s Opinion (Penentuan Pendapat Rakyat, Pepera) in 1969.

It all began with the greed of the Dutch to own West Papua. This land, that was originally a Dutch colony, was actually ready to claim their independence until Indonesia declared them as a part of Indonesia in 1962. Thus resulting in a conflict in which the President of Indonesia, Soekarno, decided to become linked with the communist nations, Uni Soviet.

The action of Soekarno caused horror to both the Dutch and the President of the United States at the time, John F Kennedy. If that happened, Indonesia could very well be the biggest communist nation in Southeast Asia. That fear led the Dutch to take a step back and decided to hand the conflict over to the United Nations.

The Indonesian nationalist government stated that Papua is a Dutch East-Indies nations. Therefore, Indonesia was eager to end the Dutch colony. But a different perception comes from the Dutch, they stated that Papua is of a different ethnicity. Also, the Dutch stated that they would continue to manage the land until Papua had a say.

Ever since 1950, the Dutch and the west nation agreed that Papua must be given their right to independence. But because of a bigger, a global consideration, especially from John F Kennedy, the United States forced the Dutch to hand over Papua to join Indonesia.

On August 15 of 1962, the New York Agreement (Perjanjian New York) was held by the Dutch, Indonesia, and the United Nations. From and through the United Nations, the Dutch left Papua and decided to neither take, seize nor to colonize Papua any longer. With that, the Dutch made it clear to hand over Papua to Indonesia.

The New York Agreement was initially brought up because of Indonesia’s attempt to take the West side of Papua from the Dutch. Early on when the Dutch-Indonesia Round Table Conference (Konferensi Meja Bundar, KMB) was held in Den Haag, the Dutch admitted the sovereignty of Indonesia, but held back on handing West Papua and declared to make a decision a year after the Dutch-Indonesia Round Table Conference. But until 1969, it was still left unfinished.

The matter of West Papua almost ended in a dead end. The Indonesia delegate thought that Indonesia has to encompass and cover all of the Dutch East-Indies. On the other side, the Dutch refused, because they claimed that the West Papua did not have any ethnicity related to Indonesia.

Regardless of this opinion from the Dutch that supports the handing over West Papua to Indonesia, the Dutch cabinet was in fact worried that they will not be able to ratify the Perjanjian Meja Bundar if this point was agreed to.

Finally, on the early November of 1949, an agreement was met. The status of West Papua was going to be decided on a negotiation that will be held between the Indonesia Union and the Dutch a year after the transfer of sovereignty.

In the early 1969, Indonesian government started to carry out the Determination of the People’s Opinion, the execution of the Determination of the People’s Opinion was witnessed by the United Nations, Australian and the Dutch representatives. The outcome of the Determination of the People’s Opinion showed that the people of West Papua wanted to be a part of Indonesia, The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. This outcome was then brought to the general assembly of the UN, and on November 19 of 1969, the UN accepted and agreed to the results of Pepera.

However, the Determination of the People’s Opinion, which was also known as an act of free choice, is often referred to as the act of no choice. It was voted by 1.025 men and women that is selected by the Indonesian military in West Papua, who were asked to vote by raising their hands scripted in the display for the United Nations observers.

The Determination of the People’s Opinion of 1969 was held in the land of West Papua according to the Indonesian system, which was the system of discussion. The implementation was very different from the content of the New York Agreement, one man one vote. Injustice and falsehood was lead in at that moment through Pepera.

And with that, West Papua was a part of The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, with all its subsequent conflicts. Sixty years forward, on August 15 of 2005 to be exact, the Dutch officially admitted the independence of Indonesia, de facto.