Indonesian claims over the lawful integration of West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia is actually based on historical fraud and lies, is hollow and will not stand the test of a legal challenge should the matter be raised in a competent court of international law. The claims by the Indonesian Republic need to be exposed, and Papua New Guineans must know the true pre-colonial and colonial history of West Papua to effectively participate in a peaceful campaign to free West Papua of continued Indonesian colonial rule.

Indonesia and the neighboring countries including PNG and Australia must recognize and accept the reality that we can live in a peaceful relationship if all our people are free.

To arrive at the ultimate objective of West Papuan self-determination and independence, knowledge about the lies and fraudulent history of Indonesian claims of West Papua is very important. This will enable Papua New Guinea to take a bold stand against the oppressive Indonesian military and push to have West Papuans exercise properly and legally their long-overdue right to self-determination.

The facts that the Indonesian Government cannot deny are as follows:


West Papua was never part of the Muslim or Hindu Empires that existed prior to the creation of the Dutch East Indies by the Kingdom of Holland in the 16th century. So West Papua does not have any part in the shared Indonesian pre-colonial history. The national myths that justify the existence of the Indonesian State do not apply to West Papua. West Papua is wholly comprised of Melanesian peoples and inhabited by peoples practicing Melanesian cultures and social organizations. West Papua is distinctive from the rest of Asiatic Indonesia with a documented existence separate from the rest of the other cultures in the Indonesian archipelago.

Fact 2 – West Papua (what was Dutch New Guinea) was separately administered from the Dutch East Indies possessions. West Papua was never part of the Dutch East Indies that was created by the Kingdom of Holland in the 16th century. The Dutch had control mainly over the two Muslim and one Hindu Empires that existed in the area now comprising the Republic of Indonesia. West Papua became a colony of the Kingdom of Holland 200 years later in the 18th century as Dutch New Guinea. West Papua therefore did not have a shared colonial history with the Republic of Indonesia.

Fact 3 – West Papua was NEVER part of the post-colonial Indonesian State

During the nascent decades in the global march towards decolonization, Indonesia was one of the first countries in the post-WWII international system to gain independence from its colonial masters. Indeed, Indonesia fought for and won a war of Independence from the Kingdom of Holland in 1949. The fact is: West Papua was not part of that war for liberation and was not part of the Republic of Indonesia at the time of its Independence in 1949. West Papua did not share the same decolonization history with Indonesia. The Republic of Indonesia was and is a separate entity from the West Papuan nation.

Fact 4 – West Papua was a NATION prior to illegal annexation by Indonesia in 1962

West Papua was being prepared by the Kingdom of Holland for political Independence in the early 1960s, whilst a more than decade earlier the Indonesian Republic was given its independence by the Kingdom of Holland in 1949. When Indonesia invaded West Papua in 1962, West Papua had a Constituent Assembly, a coat of arms, national anthem and all the character of an entity moving towards independence. Indeed, on December 1, 1961, the Morning Star (West Papuan flag) was raised for the first time, and all the trappings of a West Papuan nation were demonstrated to the “community of nations”.  

However, in 1962, the Indonesian military invaded and annexed the predominantly Melanesian-peopled West Papuan nation. This illegal act is well-documented and is the subject of growing demands for the revisitation of the role of all parties involved in this scandal. Under the expansionist policy of the military leaders of the Indonesian Republic, West Papua was illegally acquired. There is no moral legitimacy of the Indonesian Republic over West Papua and the heavy-handed and the institutionalized suppression of the human rights of West Papuans is a way of covering up Indonesia’s illegitimate claims. Governments and foreign multinational corporations of the Western governments are also parties to this continued suppression of human rights in West Papua.

Why would the Indonesian military kill, torture, rape, and suppress peoples who raise the Morning Star or suppress any form of West Papuan nationalism? It is simply out of Indonesian insecurity. The Indonesian Republic’s claims over West Papua are built on decades of lies, fraud and undemocratic practices. If thoroughly exposed, the Indonesian Republic does not have any basis for its on-going claims over West Papua.   

Fact 5 – The 1969 Undemocratic and Illegitimate “Act of NO Choice”

In 1969 only 1026 Papuans from a population of 1.2 million people were selected by Indonesia as the occupying power to decide the fate of the whole of the Papuan people. This referendum exercise does not meet any standard or requirement of international law on the right to self-determination as it exist then and as it exist now. Indeed, the vote in the so-called 1969 “Act of Free Choice” by the 1026 Papuans was NOT free and fair and was never representative of the nation of West Papua. Under duress and threats from the Indonesian military, the select Papuan leaders made a decision that has created long-lasting impacts to this day. 

According to one of the leaders who participated in this sham “Act of Free Choice”, the 1026 Papuan leaders were intimidated and warned prior to casting their votes in favor of integration into the existing Indonesian State. A Papuan leader who participated in the vote revealed years later how the leaders were treated prior to the votes being cast. An Indonesian army officer, with a gun pointed to the heads of the Papuan leaders warned: “You have to choose Indonesia not Papua. If you don’t choose Indonesia, then I will kill you, all of you”. The result of the referendum was an overwhelming “in favor” vote to be integrated into the Indonesian Republic.

This “Act of Free Choice” was a sham and a total disregard of the democratic principles that is accorded to all civilized nations. Based on this fraudulent process, also legitimated by the United Nations, the fate of the West Papuan people was placed in the hands of a brutal and oppressive entity – the Indonesian State.  

Fact 6 – A Genocidal Colonial Rule

In 1962 when the Indonesian army invaded West Papua, West Papua had a population of 1.2 million while the territory of Papua and New Guinea then had a combined population of 2million. Fifty years later, Papua and New Guinea becoming Papua New Guinea has a population of 7.5 million while West Papuans after 50 years has only managed to increase only to 500,000 to merely 2 million people. It is evident that integration has not worked at all and or Indonesia has conducted a deliberate policy to keep the Papuan population very low.

On any account therefore, there is no justification for the integration of West Papua into the Republic of Indonesia. There is no shared pre-colonial history. There is no shared colonial history. There is no shared decolonization history and that integration has failed in that it has not resulted in much social, economic and political advancement by the Papuan people at all for the last 50 years. In fact, it has seen the deterioration of the Papua people and their future. 

Way forward 

The lies must be exposed. Indonesian claims to legitimate rule over West Papua have resulted in the undignified and inhumane treatment of the West Papuan people. For West Papua to be free, the lies, and the fraud must be exposed and openly talked about. At the Free West Papua Campaign – PNG Chapter, emphasis now is for Papua New Guineans take ownership of the West Papuan issue. The West Papuan issue is NOT an internal issue for Indonesia. It is a truly regional issue. West Papua is a regional agenda because all peoples and societies in the region and beyond aspire for the peace, dignity and security. 

Papua New Guineans will not only take up the West Papuan cause because of the close historical, cultural and ethnic affinity that we share with our Melanesian brothers and sisters in West Papua, but also more importantly because Papua New Guineans have the freedoms and the privilege of speaking out on matters concerning West Papua – freedoms and privileges that our brothers and sisters in West Papua do not enjoy.

In the process of demanding for West Papuan freedom, Papua New Guineans can learn the true meaning of sacrifice and freedom – taken for granted since September 16, 1975. The time is right for Papua New Guineans to break the silence and take a position on the West Papuan issue.

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