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History of West Papua's Independence from the Netherlands & Joining Indonesia

Activists from the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua gave speeches at an action to commemorate Papua independence day on Jalan Diponegoro, Central Jakarta, Friday (1/12/2017).
Manokwari turbulent, For a long time, the problem of West Papua has often been a sensitive matter in Indonesia's historical history. Starting from the decision of the Round Table Conference (KMB) on December 24, 1949 until then West Papua won independence from the Netherlands and joined the Republic of Indonesia.

Monday (8/19/2019) morning, a joint mass of residents and students blocked a number of roads in Manokwari. The mass began to move at around 08.00 East Indonesian Time. The arson and blocking action has paralyzed access to the main road in the capital of West Papua Province.

In addition to rallies and blocking of roads, the mob also set fire to the West Papua Province DPRD Building. "Yes, the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) Building was set on fire," said a demonstrator and student activist, Mikael Kudiai.

 The burning of the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) Building, by Mikael Kudiai, was referred to as "a form of disappointment, regret, and others towards the country."

The incident in Manokwari was triggered by the siege of Papuan student dormitories in Surabaya last Friday (08/16/2019). As reported by the media, the Siege occurred because there were accusations that the occupants had damaged the Red and White flag that was placed in front of the dormitory, although the evidence was unclear.

During the siege, security forces hurled tear gas and injured 4 students. Police officers from the Surabaya Regional Police also arrested 42 boarders although there were no students named as suspects.

For a long time, the problem of Papua became a sensitive issue for Indonesia. The Round Table Conference (KMB) on 27 December 1949 resulted in the transfer of sovereignty from the Netherlands to Indonesia.

However, the KMB also left the problem unfinished, namely regarding the status of Papua or West Irian. This problem seems to be a time bomb for Indonesia - and the Papuan people themselves - later on. Both Indonesia and the Netherlands insist on feeling more entitled to the land of West Papua.

For the Netherlands, western Papua, or what they call Netherlands New Guinea, is not part of the territorial integrity that must be returned to Indonesia.

One of the reasons for the Netherlands is because the indigenous people of Papua have ethnic and racial differences with Indonesian society in general. Therefore, they want to make western Papua a separate country under the auspices of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Indonesia did not agree and wanted the entire territory of the former Dutch East Indies to be surrendered. Because no agreement was reached, call Amarula Octavian in the Military and Globalization (2012), the West Papua problem will be resolved within the next year.

Continuing negotiations had indeed been held several times, but the results were always deadlocked. Because of this, since August 1954, the Indonesian-Dutch Union which was mandated in the KMB broke up. "Indonesia failed in its efforts so that a soft motion about Papua was accepted by the United Nations in the same month," wrote M.C. Ricklefs in Modern Indonesian History (2008).

Excerpted from Indonesian National History Volume V (2008) by Marwati Djoened Poesponegoro and Nugroho Notosusanto, Indonesia has been working to resolve the West Irian problem for 11 years. However, because the Dutch did not heed, this issue was brought to the UN forum in 1954, 1955, 1957, and 1960.

At the United Nations General Assembly in September 1961, Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Marie Antoine Hubert Luns submitted a proposal that essentially put West Papua under UN trusteeship before a referendum was held. However, the UN General Assembly rejected this proposal.

Join Papua with Indonesia

Nugroho Notosusanto in the History of the West Irian Liberation Operations (1971) stated that on January 2, 1962, through Presidential Decree No. 1/1962, President Sukarno formed the Mandala Command to seize Papua.

Major General Suharto was appointed as the commander of this military operation. This situation made the Netherlands depressed and forced to negotiate again with Indonesia.

As a result, on August 15, 1962, a New York Agreement was agreed stating that the Netherlands would surrender its authority over Papua to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA).

The New York Agreement requires Indonesia to carry out a popular opinion determination (Pepera). The people of western Papua will decide for themselves whether they are willing to be part of Indonesia or not.

The deadline for implementing the Act of Free Choice was established until the end of 1969 with the United Nations as its supervisor.

Finally, on October 1, 1962 the Dutch handed over Papuan administrative authority to UNTEA. Then, on December 31, 1962, the Dutch flag was officially lowered and replaced with the Red and White flag as a sign of the start of Indonesia's de jure power over the land of Papua under UN supervision.

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