Western New Guinea is the western half of the island of New Guinea. It is the easternmost part of Indonesia, consisting of two provinces: Papua and West Papua. It was previously known by various names, including Netherlands New Guinea (1895–1 October 1962), West New Guinea (1 October 1962–1 May 1963), West Irian (1 May 1963–1973), and Irian Jaya (1973–2000). The incorporation of western New Guinea into Indonesia remains controversial with human rights non-governmental organizations (NGO), including some supporters in the United States Congress and other bodies, as well as many of the territory's indigenous population. Many indigenous inhabitants and human rights NGOs refer to it as West Papua.
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 April 5, 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 December 1, 1961. However, Indonesia threatened with an invasion, after full mobilisation of its army, by August 15, 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 October 1, 1962, the Dutch handed over the territory to a temporary UN administration (UNTEA). On May 1, 1963, Indonesia took control. The territory was renamed West Irian and then Irian Jaya.
Western New Guinea was annexed by Indonesia under the 1969 Act of Free Choice in accord with the controversial 1962 New York Agreement. During the rule of President Suharto from 1965 to 1998, human rights and other advocates 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.
In 2003, the Indonesian central government declared that the province would be split into three provinces: Papua Province, Central Irian Jaya Province, and West Irian Jaya Province. Opposition to this resulted in the plan for Central Irian Jaya province being scrapped, and even the designation of West Irian Jaya Province is still legally unclear. Despite this, the West Irian Jaya (Irian Jaya Barat) province was formed on February 6, 2006 and the name was officially changed to West Papua (Papua Barat) on February 7, 2007. The independent sovereign state of Papua New Guinea (PNG) borders Papua Province to the east.
On June 13, 1545 Ortiz de Retez, in command of the San Juan, left port in Tidore, an island of the East Indies and sailed to reach the northern coast of the island of New Guinea, which he ventured along as far as the mouth of the Mamberamo River. He took possession of the land for the Spanish Crown, in the process giving the island the name by which it is known today. He called it Nueva Guinea owing to the resemblance of the local inhabitants to the peoples of the Guinea coast in West Africa.
In 1828, the Dutch claimed the south coast west of the 141st meridian, and in 1848 added the north coast west of Humboldt Bay. The border at 141° East was 'marked' on the coast by iron signpost displaying the Dutch coat of arms by an expedition in 1881. The Netherlands established trading posts in the area after Great Britain and Germany recognised the Dutch claims in treaties of 1885 and 1895. At much the same time, Britain claimed south-east New Guinea later known as the Territory of Papua and Germany claimed the northeast, later known as the Territory of New Guinea.
In 1923, the Nieuw Guinea Beweging (New Guinea Movement) was created in the Netherlands by ultra right-wing supporters calling for Dutchmen to create a tropical Netherlands in Papua. This prewar movement without full government support was largely unsuccessful in its drive, but did coincide with the development of a plan for Eurasian settlement of the Dutch Indies to establish Dutch farms in northern West New Guinea. This effort also failed as most returned to Java disillusioned, and by 1938 just 50 settlers remained near Hollandia and 258 in Manokwari.
In the early 1930s, the need for a national Papuan government was discussed by graduates of the Dutch Protestant Missionary Teachers College in Mei Wondama, Manokwari. These graduates continued their discussions among the wider community and quickly succeeded in cultivating a desire for national unity across the region and its three hundred languages. The College Principal Rev. Kijne also composed "Hai Tanahku Papua" ("Oh My Land Papua"), which in 1961 was adopted as the national anthem.
A exploration company NNGPM was formed in 1935 by Shell (40%), Mobil (40%) and Chevron's Far Pacific investments (20%) to explore West New Guinea. During 1936, Jean Dozy working for NNGPM reported the world's richest gold and copper deposits in a mountain near Timika which he named Ertsberg (Mountain of Ore). Unable to license the find from the Dutch or indigenous landowners, NNGPM maintained secrecy of the discovery.
In 1942, the northern coast of West New Guinea and the nearby islands were occupied by Japan. Allied forces expelled the Japanese in 1944, and with Papuan approval, the United States constructed a headquarters for Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Hollandia (now Jayapura) and over twenty US bases and hospitals intended as a staging point for operations taking of the Philippines.
West New Guinean farms supplied food for the half million US troops. Papuan men went into battle to carry the wounded, acted as guides and translators, and provided a range of services, from construction work and carpentry to serving as machine shop workers and mechanics.
The Dutch retained possession of West New Guinea from 1945, but upon reaching Java west they did not find similar levels of support from the population of Java. Indonesian leaders Mohammad Hatta and Sukarno had declared independence weeks before and claimed all Dutch possessions should become part of the United States of Indonesia. The dispute continued until the Round Table Conference, which was held from August to October 1949 at the Hague. Unable to reach a compromise on the matter of West New Guinea, the conference closed with the parties agreeing to discuss the West New Guinea issue within one year.
In December 1950 the United Nations requested the Special Committee on Decolonization to accept transmission of information regarding the territory in accord with Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations. Article 73 constituted formal recognition of the territory's right to independence and the Netherlands obligation to assist. After repeated Indonesian claims to possession of Dutch New Guinea, the Netherlands invited Indonesia to present its claim before an International Court of Law. Indonesia declined the offer. Concerned by Indonesian insurgencies beginning in 1950, the Netherlands accelerated its education and technical programs in preparation for independence. A naval academy was opened in 1956, and Papuan troops and naval cadets began service by 1957.
By 1959, Papuans were nurses, dental surgeons, draftsmen, architects, telephone repairmen, and radio and power technicians, cultivating a range of experimental commercial crops and serving as police, forestry and meteorological staff. This progress towards self-government was documented in reports prepared for the United Nations from 1950 to 1961.
Local Council elections were held and Papuan representatives elected from 1955. On 6 March 1959 the New York Times published an article revealing the Dutch government had discovered alluvial gold flowing into the Arafura Sea and were searching for the gold's mountain source. In 1959, Freeport Sulphur approached the Dutch East Borneo company for partnership. An agreement signed in January 1960 to lodge a Dutch claim for the Timika area as a copper deposit did not inform the government about the gold or known extent of the copper deposit.
Election of a national parliament began on 9 January 1961 in fifteen electoral districts with direct voting in Manokwari and Hollandia to select 26 Councillors, of whom 16 were elected, 12 appointed, 23 were Papuan, and one female Councillors. The Councillors were sworn in by Governor Platteel on 1 April 1961, and the Council took office on 5 April 1961. The inauguration was attended by officials from Australia, Britain, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and members of the South Pacific Commission; a large Australian delegation was headed by Mr Hasluck MP and included Sir Alistair McMullan, President of Australian Senate. The United States declined the invitation to attend the inauguration.
After news that the Hague was considering a United States plan to trade the territory to United Nations administration, Papuan Councillors met for six hours in the New Guinea Council building on 19 October 1961 to elect a National Committee which drafted a Manifesto for Independence & Self-government, a National flag (Morning Star), State Seal, selected a national anthem ("Hai Tanahkoe Papua" / "Oh My Land Papua"), and called for the people to be known as Papuans. The New Guinea Council voted unanimous support of these proposals on 30 October 1961, and on the 31st October 1961 presented the Morning Star flag and Manifesto to Governor Platteel who said (translated) "Never before has the oneness of the Council been put forward so strongly." The Dutch recognized the flag and anthem on November 18, 1961 (Government Gazettes of Dutch New Guinea Nos. 68 and 69), and these ordinances came into effect on December 1, 1961.
On January 2, 1962 Indonesia which had made seven known insurgency attempts since 1950 now created the Mandala Command headed by Brig. General Suharto to coordinate military efforts for the territory. Two previous insurgencies, Pasukan Gerilya 100 (November 1960) and Pasukan Gerilya 200 (September 1961), were followed by Pasukan Gerilya 300 with 115 insurgents leaving Jakarta on four Jaguar class torpedo boats (January 15), intercepted in the Aru Sea the lead boat was sunk and 51 survivors were picked up after Commodore Yos Sudarso went down with his boat.
Continuing US efforts to have the Netherlands secretly negotiate the transfer of the territory to Indonesian administration eventually succeeded in creating the "New York Agreement" signed in August 1962. The Australian government, which previously had been a firm supporter of the Papuan independence, also reversed its policy to support incorporation with Indonesia.
The agreement, ratified in the UN on September 21, 1962, stipulated that authority would transfer to a United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) on 1 October 1963, and that once UNTEA had informed the public of the terms of the Agreement had the option to transfer administration of the territory to Indonesia after May 1, 1963, until such time as an "Act of Free Choice" could determine the will of the people. Under Article 18 of the Agreement "all adults, male and female, not foreign nationals" were to be allowed to vote in an Act "in accordance with international practice". On May 1, 1963 UNTEA transferred total administration of West New Guinea to the Republic of Indonesia. The capital Hollandia was renamed Kota Baru for the transfer to Indonesian administration and on 5 September 1963 West Irian was declared a "quarantine territory" with Foreign Minister Subandrio administrating visitor permits.
Since the 1960s, consistent reports have filtered out of the territory of government suppression and terrorism, including murder, political assassination, imprisonment, torture, and aerial bombardments. The Indonesian government disbanded the New Guinea Council and forbade the use of the West Papua flag or the singing of the national anthem. There has been considerable resistance to Indonesian integration and occupation, both through civil disobedience (such as Morning Star flag raising ceremonies) and via the formation of the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM, or Free Papua Movement) in 1965. The movement's military arm is the TPN, or Liberation Army of Free Papua. Amnesty International has estimated more than 100,000 Papuans, one-sixth of the population, have died as a result of government-sponsored violence against West Papuans, while others had previously specified much higher death tolls.
After General Suharto replaced Sukarno as President of Indonesia, Freeport Sulphur was the first foreign company awarded a mining license, a 30 year license to mine the Tembagapura region of Papua for gold and copper.
In 1969, General Sarwo Edhi Wibowo oversaw the Indonesian conduct of the widely criticized "Act of Free Choice." Prior to the vote, the Indonesian military rounded up and detained for one month a large group of Papuan tribal leaders. The Papuans were daily threatened with death at gunpoint if the entire group did not vote to continue Indonesian rule. Assembled troops and two Western observers acted as witnesses to the public vote; however, the Western observers left after witnessing the first two hundred (of 1,054) votes for integration. Concerned over Communism in South East Asia, and with an eye toward extracting Papua's vast mineral wealth, the US and other Western powers ignored protests over the circumstances surrounding the vote The process was deemed to have been an "Act of Free Choice" in accordance with the United Nations requirements, and Indonesia formally annexed the territory in August. Dissenters mockingly called it the "Act of No Choice" or "Act Free of Choice."
In 1971, construction of the world's largest copper and gold mine (also the world's largest open cut mine) began. Under an Indonesian agreement signed in 1967 (two years before the "Act of Free Choice"), the US company Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. obtained a 30-year exclusive mining license from Suharto in (dating from the mine's opening in 1973). The pact was extended in 1991 by another 30 years. After 1988 with the opening of the Grasberg mine it became the biggest gold mine and lowest extraction-price copper mine in the world. Locals made several violent attempts to dissuade the mine owners, including sabotage of a pipeline that July, but order was quickly restored.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Indonesian state accelerated its transmigration program, under which tens of thousands of Javanese and Sumatran migrants were resettled to Papua. Prior to Indonesian rule, the non-indigenous Asian population was estimated at 16,600; while the Papuan population were a mix of Roman Catholics, Protestants and pagan people following tribal religions. Critics suspect that the transmigration program's purpose was to tip the balance of the province's population from the heavily Melanesian Papuans toward western Indonesians, thus further consolidating Indonesian control. The transmigration program officially ended in the late 1990s, although so-called "spontaneous migration" by western Indonesians voluntarily relocating to provinces such as Papua seeking economic opportunity has increased and remains at high levels.
A separatist congress in 2000 again calling for independence resulted in a military crackdown on independence supporters. In 2001, a now-majority Islamic population was given limited autonomy. An August 2001, US State Department travel warning advised "all travel by US and other foreign government officials to Aceh, Papua and the Moluccas (provinces of North Maluku and Maluku) has been restricted by the Indonesian government".
During the Abdurrahman Wahid administration in 2000, Papua gained a "Special Autonomy" status, an attempted political compromise between separatists and the central government that has weak support within the Jakarta government. Despite lack of political will of politicians in Jakarta to proceed with real implementation of the Special Autonomy, which is stipulated by law, the region was divided into two provinces: the province of Papua and the province of West Papua, based on a Presidential Instruction in January 2001, soon after President Wahid was impeached by the Parliament and replaced by Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri. The division of the province has neither directly cancelled the Law of Special Autonomy of Papua nor engaged ongoing protest in the region. There was brief consideration of dividing the territory into thirds, but the plan was quickly abandoned. The plan again gained support in early 2008.
In January 2006, 43 refugees in a traditional canoe landed on the coast of Australia with a banner stating the Indonesian military was carrying out a genocide in Papua. They were transported to an Australian immigration detention facility on Christmas Island, 2,600 km (1,400 nmi) north-west of Perth, and 360 km (190 nmi) south of the western head of Java. On March 23, 2006, the Australian government granted temporary protection visas to 42 of the 43 having determined all 43 were bonafide refugees. A day later Indonesia recalled its ambassador to Australia. A number of expatriate Papuans currently campaign for independence in Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries, and call for international support for their campaigns. Their claims, which sometimes include allegations of historic or present genocide, are strongly challenged by Indonesia, and Papuan independence is not supported by any recognised Government except that of Vanuatu.
As of 2004, the Regencies in Papua province were: Asmat, Biak Numfor, Boven Digoel, Jayapura, Kota Jayapura, Jayawijaya, Keerom, Mappi, Merauke, Mimika, Nabire, Paniai, Pegunungan Bintang, Puncak Jaya, Sarmi, Supiori, Tolikara, Waropen, Yahukimo, and Yapen Waropen. The Regencies in the same time period for West Papua province were: Fak-Fak, Kaimana, Manokwari, Raja Ampat, Sorong, Kota Sorong, Sorong Selatan, Teluk Bintuni, and Teluk Wondama.
In 2003 the western-most third of Papua province was split into a separate province, called West Irian Jaya, which was itself renamed West Papua province in 2007.
Jayapura, founded in 1910 as Hollandia, had by 1962 developed into a city with modern civil, educational, and medical services. Since Indonesian administration these services have been replaced by Indonesian equivalents such as the TNI (military) replacing the Papuan police force. The name of the city has been changed from Hollandia, to Kotabaru then Sukarnopura and finally Jayapura.
It is the largest city in Western New Guinea, boasting a small but active tourism industry, it is a neat and pleasant city built on a slope overlooking the bay. Cenderawasih University campus houses the Jayapura Museum. Tanjung Ria beach, well-known to the Allies during World War II, is a popular holiday resort now with facilities for water sports, and General Douglas MacArthur's World War II quarters are still intact.
|Rainfall||100 to 10,000 mm (4–400 in)|
|Temperature||0 to 32 °C (32–90 °F)|
Both north and west of the central ranges the land remains mountainous — mostly 1,000 to 2,000 m (3,300–6,660 ft) high — and covered by thick rain forest with a warm humid climate year round.
The third major habitat feature is the south east lowlands with extensive wetlands stretching for hundreds of kilometers.
The province has 40 major rivers, 12 lakes, and 40 islands. The Mamberamo river, sometimes referred to as the "Amazon of Papua" is the province's largest river which winds through the northern part of the province. The result is a large area of lakes and rivers known as the Lakes Plains region. The vast southern lowlands, which consist of a mosaic of habitats including mangrove, tidal and freshwater swamp forest, and lowland rainforest, are home to a dense population of fishermen and gatherers such as the Asmat people. The famous Baliem Valley, home of the Dani people is a tableland above sea level in the midst of the central mountain range; Puncak Jaya (formerly Carstensz Pyramid) is a mist covered limestone mountain peak above sea level, the highest point in Indonesia.
The border with Papua New Guinea mostly follows the 141st meridian, with one section defined by the Fly River. This border is largely unguarded, and has seen a dramatic amount of refugees and illegal aliens cross over to PNG to flee the Indonesians. There are no reliable estimates on how many have crossed.
As in Papua New Guinea and some surrounding east Indonesian provinces, a large majority of the population is Christian. In the 2000 census 54% of West Papuans identified themselves as Protestant, 24% as Catholic, 21% as Muslim, and less than 1% as either Hindu or Buddhist. There is also substantial practice of animism among the major religions, but this is not recorded by the Indonesian census.
Western New Guinea is home to around 312 different tribes, including some uncontacted peoples. The following are some of the most well-known:
|Animal Group||Est. Number|
The extensive waterways and wetlands of Papua are also home to salt and freshwater crocodile, tree monitor, flying foxes, osprey, bats and other animals; while the equatorial glacier fields remain largely unexplored.
In February 2005, a team of scientists exploring the Foja Mountains discovered numerous new species of birds, butterflies, amphibians, and plants, including a species of rhododendron which may have the largest bloom of the genus.
Ecological dangers include deforestation at an alarming rate; the spread of the exotic Crab-eating Macaque (monkey) which now threatens the existence of many native species; pollution such as Grasberg mine dumping 230 000 tonnes of copper and gold tailings into the rivers system each day.
Many aspects of West Papuan culture have been forcibly repressed since the area's 1963 incorporation into the Indonesian state. In 2001 the province was granted special autonomy by the Indonesian government, opening the possibility of increased indigenous cultural production and arts venues.
Some Papuans fear that the history of Indonesian repression, education, propaganda, and transmigration have negatively impacted Papuan cultures. In March 2003 John Rumbiak stated that Papuan culture "will be extinct" within 10 to 20 years, if the present rate of assimilation in the region continues. In response to such criticism the Indonesian government states that the special autonomy arrangement specifically addresses the ongoing preservation of Papua culture, and that the transmigration program was "designed specifically to help the locals through knowledge transfer. Papua advocates view such responses as a continuation of the Indonesian state's tendency to view Papuans as "primitives" in need of "development.
In some parts of the highlands, the koteka is traditionally worn by males in ceremonial contexts. Despite government efforts to suppress it, the use of the koteka as everyday dress by Dani males in Western New Guinea is still very common.