What Is The Free Papua Movement?

What Is The Free Papua Movement?

To understand the Free Papua movement, there’s just a few things to get out of the way first. First, what's Papua? Second, why does it need freedom? Third, who from? For quite a lot of people, after they hear ‘Papua’ they think of Papua New Guinea. It’s not too far off, seeing as West Papua is just the western half of the New Guinea island, with ‘Papua’ being a name referring to the island before contact with the west. West Papua is directly to the west of Papua New Guinea, with the island split neatly in two. So how the hell did it get that way?

Lengthy earlier than the Free Papua Movement, like so many fashionable nations, West Papua is a product of colonialism. Western New Guinea was colonized by the Dutch at first, while the East was ultimately colonized by the Germans within the late 1800s. (With the south-east additionally being annexed by Britain, because after all the Brits had to be involved somewhere.) As with many different things, this difficult mixture of colonialism was shook up by WW1 and the Treaty of Versailles, granting the German territory to Australia, who by this level have been administering the British territory as well. This split the country quite evenly down the center between the Dutch and the Australians.

In 1975, the Jap portion of the island was granted independence and have become Papua New Guinea. Meanwhile, the Dutch administered western portion had the unfortunate situation of pushing to turn out to be impartial proper subsequent to unbiased Indonesia. The Dutch had been gradually loosening their grip for some time and in 1961, a national parliament had been elected with intentions to declare independence in 1970. Indonesia meanwhile had fashioned largely out of the Dutch East Indies, an amalgamation of most of the Dutch island colonies in that area, of which Papua was one. This, in Indonesia’s eyes, gave them declare to Papua despite the enormously completely different political history.

Indonesian president Sukarno pushed closely for intervention to say West Papua, though unwillingness to go to war outright prevented an invasion. Ultimately, Sukarno sought the US to serve as a mediator, leveraging their position as a ‘non-aligned’ country to achieve favour, implicitly suggesting that they could ally with the U.S. if not appeased. The Dutch relented, allowing Indonesia to imagine administration of West Papua till such a time as a referendum could possibly be carried out, stirring the start of what would turn into the Free Papua Movement. This referendum, the ‘Act of Free Choice’, was to determine the way forward for the country and contain a vote on behalf of the entire country. This is, after all, how referendums function.

Under the new, decidedly much more genocidal leader Suharto took over in Indonesia, it was immediately decided that the New Guineans were ‘too primitive’ for democracy and instead a traditional Indonesian ‘election of elders’ was performed. This election, held August 2nd 1969, concerned only a hand-picked grouping of just over a thousand West Papuans were allowed to vote. The vote was suspiciously unanimous, supporting integration with Indonesia and thus leading to West Papua becoming the 26th official province of Indonesia. This has understandably led to the Act of Free Alternative being labelled the ‘Act of No Alternative’, inevitably spurring the Free Papua Movement. With that out of the way, let’s move on.

The Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka – OPM) was formally founded in December of 1963, not long after Indonesia assumed administration of the region but earlier than formal annexation. December first was declared ‘Papuan Independence Day’ and regular flag raising ceremonies started by separatist teams on this date, making up a large portion of the country. When their efforts have been ignored and West Papua was formally annexed by Indonesia, things swiftly started to heat up. On July 1st 1971, three Free Papua Movement commanders declared the Republic of West Papua and drafted a constitution, a functionally symbolic move for which the Papuan people would work towards, equally to the Irish proclamation of 1916 which provided a foundation for the independence movement of the early 1920s.

From 1976, the Free Papua Movement went on the offensive, threatening an Indonesian mining company for funding and finally conducting mass sabotage campaigns in opposition to the corporate all through the summer time of 1977. In 1982, the Free Papua Movement Revolutionary Council was further established, in search of to gain recognition from worldwide bodies and grant their battle further legitimacy. This finally led to a 1984 offensive towards the Indonesian military, ultimately ending with the Free Papua Movement being pushed out of the country into Papua New Guinea.

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