About West Papua

West Papua is the western half of the New Guinea island and comprises the two eastern-most Indonesian Provinces (Province Papua & Province Papua Barat). After decades of transmigration from other parts of Indonesia, the indigenous melanesian population makes up less than 40% of the population. Indigenous Papuans while surround by enormous natural wealth are facing violence from Indonesian security forces, racial discrimination, exploitation of natural resources an environment by national and multi-national companies as well as the military. While the Special Autonomy Law gives Papuans more control over their situation and resources on Paper, Papuans deplore that their New York treaty based right to hold a referendum for their political status has never been properly implemented. Repeated clashes between armed resistance fighters and the Indonesian army with considerable civilan victims call for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Political Context: Key Developments by January 2021

Widespread protests against OTSUS vol. II

High-ranking government officials advocated prolonging West Papua's Special Autonomy (OTSUS) by extending the autonomy funds, which would otherwise end in 2021. Papuan students launched peaceful protests against it in Manado, Makassar, Timika, Nabire and Jayapura demanding a referendum. Demonstrations were either dispersed or deterred by the government, limiting democratic space. The 'Peoples' Solidarity for West Papua', consisting of at least 102 organisations, announced in November that 520,261 people had signed their petition against OTSUS vol. II.

Churches and MRP call for negotiations between ULMWP and Jakarta

In February, the MRP suggested President Jokowi enter into dialogue with the ULMWP. Churches in West Papua support this path to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. The call came in response to armed clashes in West Papua's central highlands, which have deteriorated since December 2018.


A Short History of West Papua

Since the 18th century, the South Pacific island of West Papua has been an object of imperial ambition, with the British, German, Dutch and Japanese laying claim to parts of the island at different times.

The declaration of the Indonesian Republic in 1945 brought most territories of the former Dutch East Indies under Indonesian sovereignty - except for the western half of the island of New Guinea, which remained under Dutch control.