Quest for Independence amidst Uncertain Future

This past decades has been the worst episode I have ever recognized against the people of West Papua and people in eastern part of Indonesia. West Papuans have been threatened by the sequels of violation, abuse, and damages against the rights to live, and votes for their own future. The fact that increasing number of shooting incidents, death cases, and political refugee have indicated to us that the value of democracy has been indeed robbed and thus the Indonesia central government has failed to maintain people’s prosperity too. Thousands more have been raped, tortured, imprisoned or ‘disappeared’ after being detained. Basic human rights such as freedom of speech are denied and West Papuans live in a constant state of fear and intimidation.

Therefore They vote to be independent in order to make sure their demand is being granted. They do not agree to the current constitutional law, since Papuan continues to suffer under an Indonesian regime that denies them almost every basic right that people in the west take for granted. They bid for freedom without intervention of central governing authority that has produced a more “politically-motivated” policy.

Papua is in fact the highest contributors to Indonesia’s GDP yet at the same time becoming the poorest region among other Indonesia provinces. West Papua is incredibly resource-rich, boasting gas, timber, palm oil and the world’s largest gold and copper mine, Grasberg but the people’s prosperity, educational, and health level are still relatively below the standard compared to Java for example. Those conditions have proven to us that the fairness values to Papuan people are indeed violated and as long as no political push from central government, Papuan will be always left behind.


It all started ever after Indonesia declared its independence in 1945 where Indonesia would claimed all of the territory of Dutch Indies, so it invaded Irian in 1961. In  1969, the UN agree to conduct referendum that was seen as a win-win solution for both of two parties to truly reveal what Papuans wants. This act is known as “Act of Free Choice”. However, this referendum was subject to intimidation in which only 1,026 West Papuans – less than 0.2% of the population – were permitted to vote. These 1,026 was selected by Indonesian military. The consensus was Indonesia officially incorporated the Papua region into its territory.

It is with not doubt that the separatist group who sought for freedom have been occurring in a growing number, among other, the most popular one is Organisasi Papua Merdeka or OPM or Free Papua Movement. However since its establishment in 1965, the OPM activities have been so militant and in my opinion declaring war is not acceptable and justifiable to gain the independence.

At the same time, I regret to know that in 1977 there was a rebellion of 15,000 Lani people in response to Indonesian military violence towards Papuans. The Indonesian military retaliated, with aircraft bombing Lani villages in the highlands. I regret to know that many Papuan nationalists have been kidnapped and jailed as a “political prison”. Those leader were allegedly arrested and charged due to “politically motivated and an abuse of the system” by the Indonesian Government. The basic rights to freedom of expression are almost completely denied in West Papua. Anyone expressing any criticism of Indonesian rule and in particular aspirations for West Papuan independence can expect to be persecuted by the police and imprisoned.

I regret to know that West Papua is currently off limits to expose of international journalists and media. If discovered without permission they are arrested and deported by the Indonesian authorities.

I regret to know that there was a student who was shot in school by Indonesian military in 2016 due to unclear reasons.


Separatist movement are indeed a threat for nations, because under UN Charter, every nations have right to defends them self. War is not at all answer to gain the prosperity, too. And putting yourself at the enemy of state will harm effort to achieve the ultimate goals as well.

However, the Indonesian government should go in a more diplomatic approach where it can boast the accountability, leverage and freedom of expression of all people. Firstly, the issues of human rights abuse have been soared due to the deployment of Indonesia Military against the people of West Papua. Therefore, the Government should supervise the military presence in order to make sure that there will be no violation toward the Papuan people especially children and woman. Secondly, Indonesia should enhance the accountability in arresting people supported by the real fact and documentation that the law has been outraged.

In addition, Indonesia should develop a special region status for West Papua which allow them to choose their own culture, and way of life which proven acceptable like Jogjakarta currently holds. Dissenting region are acceptable because they are still a part of Indonesia.

Moreover, Indonesia should engage in constructive dialogue with local leaders and community and hear what Papuan really wants. The aim of the dialogue is to accommodate the aspirations of Papuans voices that their voices are actually being heard and valued.

Indonesia should apply tight business regulation to company who has operated and exploited the natural resources own by West Papua for example applying equal tax rate, supervising the CSR Program, and also community services that can bring benefit for the people around the company’s operation.

Lastly, Indonesia should also provide a fair budget allocation, and put a serious concern on the development of all sectors in West Papua ranging from education, infrastructure, health, and distribution so that the prosperity of the people could be achieved in a good way.

I believe in the future, we will gain a democracy value that has been soaked over the last decades.



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