West Papua is one of the provinces in Indonesia which has a lot of natural beauty and largely diverse biodiversity. This province has quite an interesting history. When Indonesia became independent in 1945, Papua was still under Dutch colonial rule.
Let’s learn more about West Papua’s history about its independence, and how it joined Indonesia.
The Conflict of Indonesia – Netherland
West Irian or Papua is one of the Indonesian provinces located at Indonesia’s western tip. Papua’s establishment started with the Round Table Conference (KMB) held on December 27, 1949.
Through the conference, the Netherlands was willing to give its authority and sovereignty to Indonesia. However, there’s still a conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands. Both of them still feel entitled to West Irian or Papua’s land.
The Netherlands brought this problem to the United Nations (UN) forum since they still wanted the western part of Papua to be established as their own country. Eventually, the Netherlands was willing to discuss again with Indonesia. Hence, later it was formed the New York agreement.
Netherlands New Guinea
The term Netherlands New Guinea was referred to the territory of Papua or West Irian. It was temporarily the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1949’s overseas territory. During the Indonesian revolution, the Netherlands had established a police action to get Papuan territory from the Republic of Indonesia. The reason why the Netherlands colonized Papua is that Papua produced many crops.
Papuans were asked to give every product of their land under the Netherlands’ rule. However, Papuans did not. Even so, the Dutch still has an intention to liberate West Irian or Papua.
To make that West Papua officially became a colony, the Dutch had invested maximally and heavily in finance and science since the early 19th century. Therefore, the Netherlands felt that they support West Papua the most compared to Indonesia.
The Dispute with the Netherlands
As mentioned before, Papua’s establishment started with the Round Table Conference (KMB). The conference was held on December 27, 1949. The conference resulted in the handover of sovereignty from the Dutch to Indonesia.
In fact, the KMB still left problems and chaos for the Netherlands and the Indonesians. They both still felt entitled to the land of Papua or West Irian. The Netherlands itself intended for the western part of Papua to stand as an independent state. However, they want it under the control of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The reason was that native Papuans boast racial and ethnic differences from Indonesian society in general. That’s the reason why the Netherlands wanted Papua to stand as its own state under the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ auspices.
On the other hand, Indonesia wanted the Netherlands to hand over the whole territory of the former Dutch East Indies. Several negotiations have been done to solve this issue, even though it still had not discovered a common ground.
Since the Dutch still insisted on defending Papua, this problem was finally brought to the United Nations (UN) forum. Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Marie Antoine Hubert Luns proposed that Papua or West Irian be under the United Nations at the United Nations General Assembly in September 1961. In the end, the proposal was rejected by the UN General Assembly.
After that, President Soekarno formed the Mandala Command to seize Papua on January 2, 1962. Major General Suharto was appointed as commander of the military operation by the President. The Netherlands was finally willing to go back to negotiations with Indonesia after a long battle.
The New York Agreement was agreed On August 15, 1962. This agreement stated that the Dutch would hand over its control over Papua to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA). UNTEA is the temporary implementing agency of the United Nations. It’s actually under the authority of the United Nations’s Secretary-General.
UNTEA was formed due to the conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands over West Papua’s status. According to the New York agreement, Indonesia needed to accomplish the People’s Opinion Determination (Pepera).
Pepera was a general election held from July 14 to August 2, 1969. Through this election, the Papuan people will determine whether they wanted to be part of Indonesia or not.
The Independence of Papua
Finally, the Netherlands gave back the administrative authority of Papua to UNTEA on October 1, 1962. Also, Indonesia’s de jure rule over the land of Papua started under UN supervision on December 31, 1962.
The flag of the Saka Merah Putih (lofty bicolor Red and White) was flown. The Dutch flag was replaced on May 1, 1963, and Papua was fully ceded to Indonesia. The position of West Papua became more certain after the Pepera.
The Pepera results proved that as many as 1,025 Papua or West Irian people choose to remain part of Indonesia. After that, the results of the Pepera were carried to the UN General Assembly. Then, United Nations General Assembly accepted and approved the results of the Pepera on December 19, 1969.
After that, the name of West Irian was changed to Irian Jaya by Suharto. Then, the Province of West Irian or Irian Jaya was changed to Papua Province based on Law Number 21 of 2001 concerning Special Autonomy for Papua, e. Later, in 2004 Papua was divided into two provinces. The western part became the Province of West Irian Jaya or West Papua, and the east was still called Papua.