Several conflicts and disputes that have occurred in Indonesia recently have made us need to reflect on our history. In unifying NKRI, our heroes have fought hard. Starting from military aggression to diplomatic politics, they strive for the sake of the independence of the Indonesian. Therefore, shouldn’t we fight to defend the integrity of this nation now?
One part of the Republic of Indonesia that used to be a post-independence dispute is West Irian, or what is now Papua. It is because there was a debate over whether Papua was indeed part of Indonesia or not. The Netherlands was also reluctant to give up power over West Irian for various reasons. Because of this case, President Soekarno upset and angry with the Netherland even more.
To better understand the politics and disputes of West Irian post-independence, here are some things you need to know.
Since the Beginning, Papua was Part of Indonesia
After officially becoming independent and standing as a country, Indonesia’s territorial borders were immediately determined. The Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI) has divided Indonesia’s territory into eight provinces, namely Sumatra, West Java, Central Java, East Java, Lesser Sunda, Maluku, Sulawesi, and Kalimantan. In this case, Papua is included in Maluku Province.
Furthermore, in his speech on 23 August 1945, Soekarno also emphasized that Papua is part of Indonesian. At that time, Soekarno said, “My people! In Sumatra, on Java, on Borneo, Sulawesi, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Maluku-from Sabang to Merauke!” However, in reality, the government is not paying enough attention to Papua. This situation made the Netherlands, through the Colony Minister H.J. van Mook, easily pushed his way into Papua.
Netherland Trying to Separate Papua from Indonesia
The Netherlands received assistance from Britain and the Allies through the power of the Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) to re-establish its power in Indonesia. Before starting the action, they waited for the Allies to expel the remaining Japanese troops throughout Indonesia, including Papua. After the Japanese surrender, J.P.K. van Eechoud as the representative of the Dutch colonial government-appointed Colonel R. Abdoelkadir Widjojoatmodjo to be the Commanding Officer of NICA (CONICA) who was in charge of overseeing the Papua region.
Finally, on July 15, 1946, the Dutch declared the separation of the entire Papua region from Maluku and Indonesia Provinces. Papua then formed its government with van Eechoud as its first resident. In other words, Papua has been considered as an independent political entity. Also, the Netherland succeeded in influencing the fighters of the Indonesian independence movement, such as M. Kasieppo, Lucas, and Nicolaas Jouwe, who initially opposed colonialism.
Netherland’s Political Ways to Take Papua
On the other hand, van Mook succeeded in gathering regional heads that were not controlled by the Republic of Indonesia in the Malino Conference. This conference will determine the fate of Papua and other regions that want to become independent. In this case, for the Netherlands, the Malino Conference was a way to divide Indonesian territory, as they had hoped.
Furthermore, after the Malino Conference, van Mook held a meeting in Pangkal Pinang on October 1, 1946. At that time, he invited people who wanted to be free from Indonesia but were worried about their position in the new state order. One of them is people of Indo-Dutch descent. In the end, the Netherland also used these people to get votes so that Papua could be separated from Indonesia.
The Existence of the Indo-Dutch
The Indo-Dutch group was worried about their fate and future after Indonesian independence. Therefore, they proposed that the Papua region be a place for their group. In this case, they want anyone who does not want to be part of the new government to live freely in Papua. Also, it led them to ask the Dutch government to give a special political status to Papua.
This proposal received attention from people in the Netherlands. They hoped that these Indo-Dutch people could remain under the Kingdom of the Netherlands and live in Papua. However, interestingly, the discussion in Pangkal Pinang ignored the existence of indigenous Papuans. They just talked about the status of the territory and acted as if there were no residents there.
The Efforts of the Netherland Government in the Denpasar Conference
On 18 December 1946, van Mook organized the Denpasar Conference, which invited representatives of the Kalimantan region and Grote Oost. The main agenda for the Denpasar Conference is the proposal for the establishment of the State of East Indonesia. However, in the draft they presented, the Dutch did not mention Papua as part of the new country.
The Netherland government still wants Papua to be a territory that is not attached by any country other than the Netherlands. However, this request provoked debate. The participants consider Papua as the largest region in the eastern region will help the growth of their new country. Moreover, with the rich natural resources that Papua has. Therefore, in the end, this conference did not reach an agreement.
Those are some information about the post-independence Papuan disputes and political issues that you need to know. As we discussed in the beginning, many parties want Papua to be separated from Indonesia. Therefore, we, as the nation’s next-generation, should try to maintain the national spirit of Ir. Soekarno left it with us.