Speech of Hans van Baalen (Member of the Dutch House of Representatives from The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy – VVD) in Jakarta, 20 Oktober 2005: “Let me therefore, set the record straight. The Republic of Indonesia is the single heir to the Dutch East Indies.
The Republic is the legal successor of the Dutch East Indies which was united under Dutch colonial rule. All parts of the Dutch East Indies form therefore an integral of the Republic. This has been fully established under international law. Therefore, it is up to the people of Indonesia themselves to decide through their democratic institutions in which way their territorial sovereignty should be administered. Decentralisation and regional autonomy are an internal matter of Indonesia.
Let me now turn to a matter which has brought about misconceptions in the Dutch-Indonesia bilateral relations, that is the so called Drooglever study regarding the transfer of sovereignty over Dutch New Guinea from the Netherlands through the United Nations to the Republic of Indonesia, the Act of Free Choice.
This academic study commissioned to Parliament has the sole purpose to establish historic facts in the Dutch historic context and has no role to play in the Dutch-Indonesia relations. It has no political or legal significance.
Neither does the Drooglever study affect in any way the recognition by the Netherlands of the territorial sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia. West Papua (Irian Jaya) is an integral part of Indonesia like Maluku, Aceh and other territories of the Indonesian Archipelago. The Netherlands, therefore, will not support any separatist movements”
Located on the western half of the island of New Guinea and long racked by a simmering violent separatist insurgency, Papua encompasses Indonesia’s two easternmost provinces.
A former Dutch colony, West Papua was formally incorporated into Indonesia in 1969, after an undisputed vote of about 1,025 representative tribal leaders. The result of the plebiscite was overseen and endorsed by the United Nations.
Since the democratization in 1998, especially since 2007, democracy by mean of elections has been introduced to increase political participation in the two provinces. The fact that the leaders of Papua and West Papua provinces are democratically elected by the people has strengthened the legality of the region as a province of Indonesia.
During the Abdurrahman Wahid administration in 2000, aside from changing the province name from “Irian Jaya” to “Papua”, Papua gained a “Special Autonomy” status, a political compromise between Papuans and the central government.
The political will of politicians in Jakarta to proceed with the implementation of the Special Autonomy was formalized in 2001 with the special autonomy law.