West Irian, often known as Papua, is an Indonesian province located in the country’s westernmost point. The formation of Papua started on December 27, 1949, with the Round Table Conference (KMB). The Netherlands was eager to cede sovereignty to Indonesia through the KMB. However, Indonesia and the Netherlands remain at odds. These two nations still believe they have a right to Papua or West Irian territory.
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Dutch New Guinea
Dutch New Guinea refers to the area of Papua or West Irian, which was temporarily an overseas possession of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1949. During the Indonesian revolution, the Dutch conducted a police operation to seize Papuan territory from the Republic of Indonesia.
The Dutch colonized Papua because it produced a lot of crops. Under Dutch authority, Papuans were expected to donate all of their produce, although Papua did not.
Nonetheless, the Dutch aim to liberate Papua or West Irian. The reason for this was that the Dutch had invested considerably in finance and research since the early nineteenth century to ensure that West Papua was formally recognized as a colony. As a result, the Netherlands believes it is the party that is most supportive of West Papua, rather than Indonesia.
Dispute with the Netherlands
The creation of Papua itself began on December 27, 1949, with the Round Table Conference (KMB). The Netherlands handed over sovereignty to Indonesia as a consequence of this summit.
However, the KMB still left confusion for the Indonesians and the Dutch. These two nations still believe they have a right to Papua or West Irian territory.
The Dutch wanted the western part of Papua to stand as an independent state under the control of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The reason for this is that indigenous Papuans are ethnically and racially distinct from Indonesian culture as a whole.
However, on the other hand, Indonesia wanted the entire territory of the former Dutch East Indies to be handed over.
Several conversations have been held to address this issue, but no common ground has been established. Because the Dutch insisted on protecting Papua, the subject was eventually taken to the United Nations (UN). At the United Nations General Assembly in September 1961, Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Marie Antoine Hubert Luns proposed that Papua or West Irian be under the United Nations. The idea, however, was rejected by the United Nations General Assembly.
President Soekarno then formed the Mandala Command to seize Papua on January 2, 1962. He appointed Major General Suharto as the commander of the military operation. After a protracted fight, the Dutch agreed to resume discussions with Indonesia.
The Netherlands turned up administrative power over UNTEA on October 1, 1962. Finally, on December 31, 1962, Indonesia established de jure authority of Papua under UN supervision. The Indonesian flag was also flown in place of the Dutch flag.
Papua was completely handed to Indonesia on May 1, 1963. West Papua’s position became more secure following the Act of Free Choice referendum in 1969. The results of the Act of Free Choice revealed that as many as 1,025 persons from Papua or West Irian decided to remain a part of Indonesia. The outcomes of the Act of Free Choice were then presented to the United Nations General Assembly. On December 19, 1969, the United Nations General Assembly acknowledged and approved the Act’s results.
Suharto then altered the name of West Irian to Irian Jaya. The Province of West Irian or Irian Jaya was then converted to Papua Province by Law Number 21 of 2001 concerning Special Autonomy for Papua. Then, in 2004, Papua was separated into two provinces: the east, which retained the name Papua, and the west, which became the Province of West Irian Jaya or West Papua.
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