Papua conflict

Papua conflict
New guinea named.PNG
New Guinea
Date1962 – present
(56 years)
LocationPapua (province) and West Papua (province) Indonesia; Papua New Guinea (minor border spillages)
Status Ongoing
Belligerents
 Indonesia
Supported by:
 Russia
 Soviet Union (1962–1964)
 United States (1969–1992)
Free Papua Movement
Units involved
Indonesian National Armed Forces
Indonesian National Police
Autonomous units affiliated with West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) or West Papua Revolutionary Army (TRWP)[1][2][3]
Strength
Indonesia 30,000

1,129 (est. in 2008)[3]

131 weapons (est. in 2008)[3]
Casualties and losses
4,350 soldiers killed[citation needed] 100,000–400,000 rebels killed[citation needed]
150,000–400,000 killed in total[4][5]

The Papua conflict is an ongoing conflict between the Indonesian government and portions of the indigenous populations of Western New Guinea (Papua) in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua on the island of New Guinea in which the Indonesian government has been accused of conducting a genocidal campaign against the indigenous inhabitants. Since the withdrawal of the Dutch colonial administration from the Netherlands New Guinea in 1962,[6] the implementation of Indonesian governance in 1963 and the formal absorption of Papua into Indonesia in 1969, the Free Papua Movement (Indonesian: Organisasi Papua Merdeka, (OPM), a militant Papuan-independence organisation, has conducted a low-key guerrilla war against the Indonesian state through the targeting the Indonesian military and police, and engages in the kidnapping of Papuan Indonesian settlers and foreigners.[7]

The Papuans have conducted various protests and ceremonies raising their flag for independence or federation with Papua New Guinea,[7] and accuse the Indonesian government of indiscriminate violence and of suppressing their freedom of expression. Over 500,000 Papuans have been killed, and thousands more have been raped, tortured and imprisoned by the Indonesian military since 1969 and the Indonesian governance style has been compared to that of a police state, suppressing freedom of political association and political expression.[8] The Indonesian Government restricts foreign access to the Papua and West Papua provinces due to sensitivities regarding its suppression of Papuan nationalism.

Historical Background[]

Overview[]

The Indonesian National Armed Forces has been accused of committing human rights abuses in Papua.

In December 1949, at the end of the Indonesian National Revolution, the Netherlands agreed to recognise Indonesian sovereignty over the territories of the former Dutch East Indies, with the exception of Western New Guinea, which the Dutch continued to hold as Netherlands New Guinea. The nationalist Indonesian government argued that it was the successor state to the whole of the Dutch East Indies and wanted to end the Dutch colonial presence in the archipelago. The Netherlands argued that the Papuans were ethnically different[9] and that the Netherlands would continue to administer the territory until it was capable of self-determination.[10] From 1950 on the Dutch and the Western powers agreed that the Papuans should be given an independent state, but due to global considerations, mainly the Kennedy administration's concern to keep Indonesia on their side of the Cold War, the United States pressured the Dutch to sacrifice Papua's independence and transfer the country to Indonesia.[11]

In 1962, the Dutch agreed to relinquish the territory to temporary United Nations administration, signing the New York Agreement, which included a provision that a plebiscite would be held before 1969. The Indonesian military organised this vote, called the Act of Free Choice in 1969 to determine the population's views on Papua and West Papua's future; the result was in favor of integration into Indonesia. In violation of the Agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands, the vote was a show of hands in the presence of the Indonesian military, and only involved 1025 hand picked people who were forced at gunpoint to vote for integration with Indonesia, much less than 1% of those who should have been eligible to vote. The legitimacy of the vote is hence disputed by independence activists who protest the military occupation of Papua by Indonesia.[12]

The Indonesian government is accused of human rights abuses; such abuses include attacks on OPM-sympathetic civilians and jailing people who raise the West Papuan National Morning Star flag for treason.[13]

Through the transmigration program, which since 1969 includes migration to Papua, about half of the 2.4 million inhabitants of Indonesian Papua are born in Java.[5] intermarriage is increasing and the offspring of trans-migrants have come to see themselves as "Papuan" over their parents' ethnic group.[14]

As of 2010, 13,500 Papuan refugees live in exile in the neighbouring independent state of Papua New Guinea (PNG),[5] and occasionally the fighting spills over the border. As a result, the Papua New Guinea Defence Force has set up patrols along PNG's western border to prevent infiltration by the OPM. Additionally, the PNG government has been expelling resident "border crossers" and making a pledge of no anti-Indonesian activity a condition for migrants' stay in PNG. Since the late 1970s, the OPM have made retaliatory "threats against PNG business projects and politicians for the PNGDF's operations against the OPM".[15] The PNGDF has performed joint border patrols with Indonesia since the 1980s, although the PNGDF's operations against the OPM are "parallel".[16]

Origins[]

Prior to the arrival of the Dutch, two Indonesian principalities known as the Sultanate of Tidore and the Sultanate of Ternate claimed dominion over Western New Guinea.[17] In 1660, the Dutch recognized the Sultan of Tidore's sovereignty over New Guinea. New Guinea thus became notionally Dutch as the Dutch held power over Tidore. A century later, in 1793, Britain attempted a failed settlement near Manokwari. After almost 30 years, in 1824 Britain and the Netherlands agreed to divide the land; rendering the eastern half of the island as being under British control and the western half of the island would become part of the Dutch East Indies.

In 1828 the Dutch established a settlement in Lobo (near Kaimana) which also failed. Almost 30 years later, Germans established the first missionary settlement on an island near Manokwari. While in 1828 the Dutch claimed the south coast west of the 141st meridian and the north coast west of Humboldt Bay in 1848, Dutch activity in New Guinea was minimal until 1898 when the Dutch established an administrative center, which was subsequently followed by missionaries and traders. Under Dutch rule, commercial links were developed between West New Guinea and Eastern Indonesia. In 1883, New Guinea was divided between the Netherlands, Britain, and Germany; with Australia occupying the German territory in 1914. In 1901, the Netherlands formally purchased West New Guinea from the Sultanate of Tidore, incorporating it into the Netherlands East Indies. [18] During World War Two, Western New Guinea was occupied by the Japanese but was later recaptured by the Allies, who restored Dutch rule over the territory. [19]

Four years after the Indonesian National Revolution and Independence on 17 August 1945, the Netherlands formally transferred sovereignty to the United States of Indonesia, the successor state to the Netherlands East Indies, on 27 December 1949. However, the Dutch refused to include Netherlands New Guinea in the new Indonesian Republic and decided to assist and prepare it for independence as a separate country. In order to resolve the differences over West New Guinea, the Dutch and Indonesians held the Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference in late 1949 and yet it was to no avail. It was decided that the present status quo of the territory at that time would be maintained and then negotiated bilaterally one year after the date of the transfer of sovereignty. [20]

One year later in 1950, both Indonesia and the Netherlands were still unable to resolve their differences, which led Sukarno, the Indonesian President, to accuse the Dutch of reneging on their promises to negotiate the handover of the territory. The Dutch was persistent in their argument that the territory did not belong to Indonesia because the Melanesian Papuans were ethnically and geographically different from Indonesians, and that the territory had always been administrated separately. On top of that, the Papuans did not participate in the Indonesian Revolution, and that the Papuans did not want to be under Indonesian control. [21]

While at face-value, the Dutch seems to be having the Papuans’ interest at heart, Arend Lijphart, a Dutch political scientist would disagree. He argued that other underlying Dutch motives to prevent West New Guinea from joining Indonesia included West New Guinea's lucrative economic resources, its strategic importance as a Dutch naval base, and its potential role for housing the Netherlands' surplus population including Eurasians who had become displaced by the Indonesian Revolution. The Dutch also wanted to maintain a regional presence and to secure their economic interests in Indonesia. [22]

On the other hand, the Indonesians regarded West New Guinea as an intrinsic part of Indonesia on the basis that Indonesia was the successor government to the Netherlands East Indies. These sentiments were reflected in the popular Indonesian revolutionary slogan “Indonesia Merdeka- dari Sabang sampai Merauke” "Indonesia Free—from Sabang to Merauke. [23] The slogan indicates the stretch of Indonesian territory from the most western part in Sumatera, Sabang, and the most eastern part of Indonesia represented by Merauke, a small city in West New Guinea. Indonesian irredentist sentiments were also inflamed by the fact that several Indonesian political prisoners had been interned at a remote prison camp north of Merauke called Boven-Digoel prior to World War II.[24] Sukarno also contended that the continuing Dutch presence in West New Guinea was an obstacle to the process of nation-building in Indonesia and that it would also encourage secessionist movements.[25]

Bilateral Negotiations 1950–1953[]

The Netherlands and Indonesia tried to resolve dispute through several bilateral negotiations between 1950 and 1953. These negotiations ended up to become unsuccessful and led the two governments to harden their stance and position. On 15 February 1952, the Dutch Parliament voted to incorporate New Guinea into the realm of the Netherlands and shortly after, the Netherlands refused further discussion on the question of sovereignty and considered the issue to be closed. [26] In response, President Sukarno adopted a more forceful stance towards the Dutch. Initially, he unsuccessfully tried to force the Indonesian government to abrogate the Round Table agreements and to adopt economic sanctions but was rebuffed by the Natsir Cabinet. Undeterred by this setback, Sukarno made recovering West Irian a top priority of his presidency and sought to harness popular support from the Indonesian public for this goal throughout many of his speeches between 1951 and 1952.[27]

By the year of 1953, the West Irian dispute had become the central issue in Indonesian domestic politics. All political parties across the Indonesian political spectrum, particularly the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), supported Sukarno's efforts to integrate West Irian into the Indonesian Republic. According to the historians Audrey and George McTurnan Kahin, the PKI's pro-integration stance helped the party to rebuild its political base and to further its credentials as a nationalist Communist Party that supported Sukarno.[28]

Disputes Taken to the UN (1954–1957)[]

In 1954, Indonesia decided to take the West New Guinea dispute to the United Nations and succeeded in having it placed on the agenda for the upcoming ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). In response, the Dutch Ambassador to the United Nations, Herman van Roijen, warned that the Netherlands would ignore any recommendations which might be made by the UN regarding the West Irian dispute.[29] During the Bandung Conference in April 1955, Indonesia succeeded in securing a resolution supporting its claim to West New Guinea from the Afro-Asian countries. Besides the Afro-Asian countries [30], Indonesia was also supported by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies.[29]

In terms of international support, the Netherlands' stance on Western New Guinea was supported by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and several Western European and Latin American countries. However, these countries were unwilling to commit to providing military support to the Netherlands in the event of a conflict with Indonesia. [31] The Eisenhower Administration were open to non-violent territorial changes but rejected the use of any military means to resolve the West Irian dispute. Until 1961, the United States pursued a policy of strict neutrality and abstained on every vote on the dispute. [32] According to the historian Nicholas Tarling, the United Kingdom government took the position that it was "strategically undesirable" for control of the territory to pass to Indonesia because it created a precedent for encouraging territorial changes base on political prestige and geographical proximity. ref>Tarling, Nicholas (2004). Britain and the West New Guinea Dispute. UNSW Press. p. 19. </ref>

The Australian Menzies Government welcomed the Dutch presence in West New Guinea as an "essential link" in its national defense since it also administrated a trust territory in the eastern half of New Guinea. Unlike its Labor Party successor which had supported the Indonesian nationalists, the Prime Minister Robert Menzies viewed Indonesia as a potential threat to its national security and distrusted the Indonesian leadership for supporting the Japanese during World War II.[33] In addition, the New Zealand and South African governments also opposed the Indonesian claim to West New Guinea.The New Zealand government accepted the Dutch argument that the Papuans were culturally different from the Indonesians and thus supported maintaining Dutch sovereignty over the territory until the Papuans were ready for self-rule. By contrast, newly independent India, another Commonwealth member supported Indonesia's claim to West New Guinea.[34]

Between 1954 and 1957, the Indonesians and their Afro-Asian allies made three attempts to get the United Nations to intervene in the West New Guinea dispute. However, all these three resolutions failed to gain a two–thirds majority in the United Nations General Assembly. On 30 November 1954, the Indian representative Krishna Menon initiated a resolution calling for the Indonesians and Dutch to resume negotiations and to report to the 10th UNGA Session. This resolution was sponsored by eight countries (Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Syria, and Yugoslavia) but failed to secure a two-thirds majority (34-23-3).[35] In response to growing tensions between Jakarta and the Hague, the Indonesian government unilaterally dissolved the Netherlands-Indonesian Union on 13 February 1956, and also rescinded compensation claims to the Dutch. Undeterred by this setback, the Indonesians resubmitted the West New Guinea issue to the UNGA's agenda in November 1965. [36]

On 23 February 1957, a thirteen country–sponsored resolution (Bolivia, Burma, Ceylon, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Yugoslavia) calling for the United Nations to appoint a "good offices commission" for West New Guinea was submitted to the UN General Assembly. Despite receiving a plural majority (40-25-13), this second resolution failed to gain a two-thirds majority. Undeterred, the Afro-Asian caucus in the United Nations lobbied for the West New Guinea dispute to be included on the UNGA's agenda. On 4 October 1957, the Indonesian Foreign Minister Subandrio warned that Indonesia would embark on "another cause" if the United Nations failed to bring about a solution to the dispute that favoured Indonesia. That month, the Indonesian Communist Party and affiliated trade unions lobbied for retaliatory economic measures against the Dutch. On 26 November 1957, a third Indonesian resolution on the West New Guinea dispute was put to the vote but failed to gain a two-thirds majority (41-29-11). In response, Indonesia took retaliatory measure against Dutch interests in Indonesia. [37]

The Dutch and Creation of West Papuan national identity[]

Following the defeat of the third Afro-Asian resolution in November 1957, the Indonesian government embarked on a national campaign targeting Dutch interests in Indonesia; leading to the withdrawal of the Dutch flag carrier KLM's landing rights, mass demonstrations, and the seizure of the Dutch shipping line Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij (KPM), Dutch-owned banks, and other estates. By January 1958, ten thousand Dutch nationals had left Indonesia, many returning to the Netherlands. This spontaneous nationalisation had adverse repercussions on the Indonesian economy, disrupting communications and affecting the production of exports. President Sukarno also abandoned efforts to raise the West New Guinea dispute at the 1958 United Nations General Assembly, claiming that reason and persuasion had failed. [38] Following a sustained period of harassment against Dutch diplomatic representatives in Jakarta, the Indonesian government formally severed relations with the Netherlands in August 1960. [39]

In response to Indonesian aggression, the Netherlands government stepped up its efforts to prepare the Papuan people for self-determination in 1959. These efforts culminated in the establishment of a hospital in Hollandia (modern–day Jayapura), a shipyard in Manokwari, agricultural research sites, plantations, and a military force known as the Papuan Volunteer Corps. By 1960, a legislative New Guinea Council had been established with a mixture of legislative, advisory and policy functions had been established. Half of its members were to be elected and elections for this council were held the following year. [40] Most importantly, the Dutch also sought to create a sense of West Papuan national identity and these efforts led to the creation of a national flag (the Morning Star flag), a national anthem, and a coat of arms. The Dutch had planned to transfer independence to West New Guinea in 1970. [41]

Dutch Attempt for the Preparation of West New Guinea Independence[]

By 1960, other countries in the Asia-Pacific region had taken notice of the West Irian dispute and began proposing initiatives to end the dispute. During a visit to the Netherlands, the New Zealand Prime Minister Walter Nash suggested the idea of a united New Guinea state, consisting of both Dutch and Australian territories. This idea received little support from both the Indonesians and other Western governments. Later that year, the Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman proposed a three-step initiative, which involved West New Guinea coming under United Nations trusteeship. The joint administrators would be three non-aligned nations Ceylon, India, and Malaya, which supported Indonesia's position on West Irian. This solution involved the two belligerents, Indonesia and the Netherlands, re-establishing bilateral relations and the return of Dutch assets and investments to their owners. However, this initiative was scuttled in April 1961 due to opposition from the Indonesian Foreign Minister Subandrio, who publicly attacked the Tunku's proposal. [42]

By 1961, the Netherlands government was struggling to find adequate international support for its policy to prepare West New Guinea for independent status under Dutch guidance. While the Netherlands' traditional Western allies—the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand—were sympathetic to Dutch policy, they were unwilling to provide any military support in the event of conflict with Indonesia. [43] On 26 September 1961, the Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Luns offered to hand over West New Guinea to a United Nations trusteeship. This proposal was firmly rejected by his Indonesian counterpart Subandrio, who likened the West New Guinea dispute to Katanga's attempted secession from the Republic of Congo during the Congo Crisis. By October 1961, Britain was open to transferring West New Guinea to Indonesia while the United States floated the idea of a jointly-administered trusteeship over the territory. [44]

1961 Resolution for the Resumption of Dutch-Indonesian talks[]

On 23 November 1961, the Indian delegation at the United Nations presented a draft resolution calling for the resumption of Dutch–Indonesian talks on terms which favoured Indonesia. On 25 November 1961, several Francophone African countries tabled a rival resolution which favoured an independent West New Guinea. The Indonesians favoured the Indian resolution while the Dutch, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand supported the Francophone African resolution. On 27 November 1961, both the Francophone African (52-41-9) and Indian (41-40-21) resolutions were put to the vote failed to gain a two–thirds majority at the United Nations General Assembly. The failure of this final round of diplomacy in the UN convinced the Indonesians to prepare for a military invasion of West Irian. [45]

The New York Agreement (1962)[]

By 1961, the United States government had become concerned about the Indonesian military's purchase of Soviet weapons and equipment for a planned invasion of West New Guinea. The Kennedy Administration feared an Indonesian drift towards Communism and wanted to court Sukarno away from the Soviet Bloc and Communist China. The United States government also wanted to repair relations with Jakarta, which had deteriorated due to the Eisenhower Administration's covert support for the Permesta/PRRI regional uprisings in Sumatra and Sulawesi. These factors convinced the Kennedy Administration to intervene diplomatically to bring about a peaceful solution to the West New Guinea dispute, which favored Indonesia. [46]

Throughout 1962, the American diplomat Ellsworth Bunker facilitated top–secret high–level negotiations between the Dutch and Indonesian governments. These protracted talks produced a peace settlement known as the New York Agreement on 15 August 1962. As a face-saving measure, the Dutch would hand over West New Guinea to a provisional United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) on 1 October 1962, which then ceded the territory to the Indonesians on 1 May 1963; formally ending the West New Guinea dispute. As part of the New York Agreement, it was stipulated that a popular plebiscite would be held in 1969 to determine whether the Papuans would choose to remain in Indonesia or seek self-determination. [47]

United Nations Administration (1 October 1962 – 30 April 1963)[]

The Referendum: Act of Free Choice (July–August 1969)[]

Following the Act of Free Choice plebiscite in 1969, Western New Guinea was formally integrated into the Republic of Indonesia. Instead of a referendum of the 816,000 Papuans, only 1,022 Papuan tribal representatives were allowed to vote and all of these were coerced into voting in favour of integration. While several international observers including journalists and diplomats criticised the referendum as being rigged, the United States and Australia support Indonesia's efforts to secure acceptance in the United Nations for the pro-integration vote. That same year, 84-member states voted in favour for the United Nations to accept the result, with 30 others abstaining.[48] Due to the Netherlands' efforts to promote a West Papuan national identity, a significant number of Papuans refused to accept the territory's integration into Indonesia. These formed the separatist Organisasi Papua Merdeka Organisasi Papua Merdeka (Free Papua Movement) and have waged an insurgency against the Indonesian authorities, which still continues to this day.[48]

Brief outline of major events post-referendum[]

New Order 1965–1998[]

Post-Suharto[]

1998–2010[]

2010–present[]

States that support self-determination[]

The following states have denounced the Act of Free Choice and support Papuan self-determination:

Leaders and groups that support self-determination[]

See also[]

References[]

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