West Papua is an integral part Indonesia.
Commenting on the conduct of the whole process, Petrus Wettebossy, the representative of the Indonesian Christian Party of Manokwari, Papua and a local Papuan leader who had previously criticized the Dutch colonial policy said: “Whether the Act of Free Choice is implemented or not, West Papua (West Irian) is an integral part of the unitary state, the Republic of Indonesia, de jure as well as de facto!
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.
Special autonomy is part of democratic means to address aspiration of Papuan people. In late 2001, Indonesian government introduced a “special autonomy” bill for West Papua. The bill, which was drafted mostly by indigenous Papuans, passed the Indonesian parliament as Law No. 21 in November 2001.
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