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West Papua

West Papua is the common English name for the western half of the island of New Guinea, the eastern half being Papua New Guinea. Within Indonesia, of which it is the easternmost part, it is colloquially known as Papua. (Somewhat confusingly, the region has been divided since 2007 into two official administrative provinces: Papua and West Papua.) Previous names for the region include Netherlands New Guinea (1895 – 1 October 1962), West New Guinea, West Irian (1 May 1963 – 1973), Irian Jaya (1973–2000), and Papua (2000-2003). The incorporation of the region into Indonesia remains controversial with many of the territory's indigenous population, the Free Papua Movement[1][2], human rights NGOs, and International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), whose members include parliamentarians from Britain, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Australia and Vanuatu, United States, Sweden and the Netherlands.[3]

During the 1950s the Dutch government began to prepare Netherlands New Guinea for full independence and allowed elections in 1959; an elected Papuan council, the New Guinea Council (Nieuw Guinea Raad) took office on 5 April 1961. The Council decided on the name of West Papua, a national emblem, a flag called the Morning Star or Bintang Kejora, and a national anthem; the flag was first raised — next to the Dutch flag — on 1 December 1961. However, Indonesia threatened with an invasion, after full mobilisation of its army, by 15 August 1962, after receiving military help from the Soviet Union. Under strong pressure of the United States government (under the Kennedy administration) the Dutch, who were prepared to resist an Indonesian attack, attended diplomatic talks. On 1 October 1962, the Dutch handed over the territory to a temporary UN administration (UNTEA). On 1 May 1963, Indonesia took control. The territory was renamed West Irian and then Irian Jaya.

West Papua was annexed by Indonesia under the 1969 Act of Free Choice contrary to Article XIV and Article XVIII of the 1962 New York Agreement. During the rule of President Suharto from 1965 to 1998, human rights and other advocates[who?] criticized Indonesian government policies in the province as repressive, and the area received relatively little attention in Indonesia's development plans. During the Reformasi period from 1998 to 2001, Papua and other Indonesian provinces received greater regional autonomy. In 2001, a law was passed granting "Special Autonomy" status to Papua, although many of the law's requirements have either not been implemented or have been only minimally implemented.[4]

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