The Political Status of West Papua (Part 4)
Despite these unquestionable grounds of commonality of interests between the peoples of the rest of Indonesia and West Papua, Indonesia found it deeply regrettable and troubling that during the Round Table Conference, the Government of the Netherlands took a position contrary to its previous commitments. By reneging on its own commitments, the Dutch authorities insisted on retaining their control over West Papua. The reason being, it was widely believed, that the Dutch wanted the territory exclusively for settlement by Dutch-Indonesians under continued Dutch colonial rule. Indonesia protested and deadlock was inevitable. At the end of the Round Table Conference, the Head of Indonesia’s delegation stated:
“Our happiness is rather suppressed because not all questions have been solved. West Papua or New Guinea still remain a dispute”
When one defines “Indonesia”, it has national and political connotations as it was used in the national struggle for independence and was to replace the name “Netherlands East Indies”. The name of Indonesia was legalized by the Netherlands itself and contained in article 1 of the Netherlands Constitution of 1922 which reads:
“The Kingdom of Netherlands consists of the territories of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Indies, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles”.
Later in 1948, when the Constitution of the Netherlands was amended, it provided:
“THe Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of the Netherlands, Indonesia, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles”.
Such a clear demarcation was also contained in the Constitution of Indonesia, in 1945 and 1950 as the separation of Indonesia from West Papua was only meant to be temporary pending negotiations between the concerned parties.
West Papua was thus never mentioned apart from the Netherlands East Indies. After the Second World War, it was part of te Residency of Ternate within the province of Mollucas with Ambon as its capital. Later, it became a residency itself. Thus, it was only logical for the Government of the Netherlands in the 1949 report to the United Nations to states:
“Indonesia consists of a series of island groups in the region of the equator, extending from the mainland Asia to Australia. The principal groups are the Greater Sunda Islands, the Mollucas and New Guinea, west of 141 degrees east longitude”.
In the contemporary world, Indonesia is accepted throughout the world as one nation comprising numerous and diverse ethnic and cultural groups that live in the territory of the former Netherlands Crown as a single entity.
continue to part 5