Twelve-month anniversary calls for UN-auspiced talks between Federated Republic of West Papua and Unitary Republic of Indonesia.

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West Papuans today are celebrating the erection of the Federated Republic of West Papua on 19 October 2011, with peace rallies across the nation in the cities of Jayapura, Wamena, Merauke, Fak-fak, Sorong, Timika, Manokwari, and Serui.

Twelve months ago, five-thousand registered participants of the 3rd Papuan Kongres, met in Zaccheus Field in Abepura for four days of intense discussion and debate.  The Kongres opened on 16 October with a day of prayer, and culminated in the formation of a peak political management structure for the delivery of independence.  Within minutes of President Yaboisembut reading the declaration, soldiers in tanks moved onto the field and mounted a frenzy of kicking and beating with batons, bamboo sticks, and rifle butts.  Six were shot dead.[1]  Three hundred were arrested and tortured.  Twelve still carry skull-fractures.  President Yaboisembut, Prime Minister Waromi, and two of the organizing committee were charged with subversion under Article 106 of the Criminal Code, a third charged under the 1951 Emergency Law.[2]  All five were well represented by a team of young West Papuan lawyers led by Olga Hamadi and Gustav Kawer, but ultimately incarcerated until 2015 by the five West Papuan judges that Jakarta assigned to the case.

Meantime the Indonesian government authorized the TNI to implement its “Military Enters Village” (TMMD) program.  Chief-of-Staff General Pramono Wibowo—the son of the military commander in West Papua before, during and after the Act of Free Choice—told Indonesian journalists “The villages where TNI chooses to conduct the TMMD programs are those that we believe are likely to be influenced by the OPM”.  Using ‘OPM’ as usual as short-hand for the West Papuan independence ambition, the general, who is President Yudhoyono’s brother-in-law was, effectively, declaring war.  Unlike the Indonesian government, Papuan peace-makers are highly motivated to settle the fifty-year issue through dialogue as their population rapidly diminishes from 96.09% in 1962 to 48.73% in 2010.

Since its formation, the Federated Republic of West Papua has been learning the skills and practicing the craft of managing a nation, implementing step-by-step its political program (published by Sydney University in 2011).  Besides peopling the administration of its transitional government, the executive has continued to expose the hollowness of Indonesia’s claims to want dialogue and purposeful communication.  On 5 October 2012, a seven-member delegation flew to Jakarta, inviting Minister of Political and Security Affairs, Head of National Police, and members of the Indonesian National Parliament to formal meetings under the auspice of the United Nations.  All cited ‘constitutional responsibility to a unitary state’ as precluding their involvement and impeding the application of democratic principles—as did President Yudhoyono during our meeting in Jakarta in February 2011.

Meantime, West Papua is one of the most militarized territories in the world, with one Indonesian-security identity for every 100 citizens (In Iraq in 2009, the ratio was one for every 140 citizens).  This escalation occurs behind the quiet carving of the territory into more and more regencies—Numfoor, for example, a tiny island of 335 sq kms, is in the process of assignation as regency.  (In Indonesia each regency, not each province, is automatically assigned 1 Land Army battalion, 1 Police company, 1 BRIMOB company, 1 Airforce company, and 1 Naval in coastal regencies).  Gross military behaviour, unless captured by Papuans on mobile phones, escapes scrutiny inside the shambles that is Special Autonomy (21/2001).  Like Regional Autonomy (12/1969), it was designed to fail, UN reviews in 2008, 2009, and 2012 citing ‘lack of legal clarity between central, province, and district level government impeding implementation, planning, budgeting, and monitoring processes’.

The Federated Republic of West Papua believes Indonesian interests will be better served by a purposeful political dialogue across the Jayapura-Jakarta divide than in international legal and criminal forums—where the notion that Indonesia accumulated sovereign rights in West Papua between 1962 and 1969 will be exposed as disingenuous, and that Indonesian governance since has been adequate or appropriate dismissed.  For example, during my recent visit to Timor Leste, that co-incided with the government’s presentation of an award to President Yudhoyono, I observed just how much Indonesia is profiting economically from a mature relationship with a neighbour after decades of a crippling war against a colony.

Jacob Rumbiak

Foreign Minister, Federated Republic of West Papua, Melbourne, Australia


Mrs Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, Washington.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Parliament House, Canberra, Australia.


[1]       James Gobay, Yosaphat Yogi, Daniel Kadepa, Pilatus Wetipo, Maxsasa Yewi, Yacob Samonsabra.

[2]       Selpius Bobii, August Sananay Kraar, Dominikus Sorabut