Free west papua – For Soekarno, Indonesia without Papua is like a body without fingers.
Only the width of a human palm. That was how Bung Karno saw Papua compared to other islands of Indonesia. Even so, the first president of the Republic of Indonesia continued to believe that half of the archipelago’s eastern tip was always a part of Indonesia. At that time, in Indonesia, Papua was still called West Irian. Netherlands called them Nederland Nieuw Guinea.
“But West Irian is a part of our body,” Soekarno told the writer Cindy Adams in his autobiography Soekarno: Penyambung Lidah Rakyat Indonesia. “Will someone let one of his limbs be cut off without resisting at all? Will people not cry out in pain if they cut their fingertips even if there are only a little?”
Soekarno’s claim was not without foundation. Since colonial era, Papua was part of the Dutch East Indies, which in recognition of sovereignty would become part of the United Republic of Indonesia. However, the Dutch violated this agreement. In the Round Table Conference (KMB) negotiations at the end of 1949, the Dutch Government refused to hand over the territory. Their reason was that, ethnically and culturally, the people of West Irian are different from Indonesia. So, there was no reason for Indonesia to claim Papua as one of them.
“Why not?” Soekarno asked. “Are they (the people of Papua) look more like the Dutch with red cheeks, blonde hair, and freckles?”
The Center of Disputes
In Soekarno’s observation, Papua was a very undeveloped region. Its nature is in the form of dense forests with vast mountains and swamps. According to Soekarno, Papua had a little benefit for the Dutch.
The profits obtained by the Dutch from petroleum mines were not comparable to the cost of process. Special expenditures must had also be allocated to build the community welfare. The Dutch wanted Papua only for psychological reasons as one of the imperialist countries that still want to rule. “In addition, the Dutch are stubborn,” said Soekarno.
Free west papua – The Netherlands was not as naive as Soekarno said. From economic standpoint, the Dutch had already made some calculations. Since the colonial period, besides oil – the Netherlands had realized the large mineral content stored under the soil of Papua. This review of Papua’s natural wealth was recorded in the report of resident chief Jan van Echoud entitled “Nota Inzake de Economische Toekomst van Nieuw-Guinea” (Note on the Economic Future of New Guinea).
“The discussion about mineral mining is almost entirely through The Hague (the Dutch Government in the mother country), while discussions about timber extraction and fisheries generally include governorates in Hollandia (the center of Dutch government in Papua),” said Dutch archivist, Pieter Drooglever, in the Tindakan Pilihan Bebas!: Orang Papua dan Penentuan Nasib Sendiri (Free Choice Act: Papuans and Self-Determination).
The Dutch government, according to Drooglever, was indeed determined to strengthen their economic base in Papua. At the same time, Indonesia fought for the territory to be integrated in the Republic. For thirteen years, Papua had been a center of disputes between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Like a Dagger
Soekarno himself never changed his principle “from Sabang to Merauke” as the basic integrity of Indonesian sovereignty. Papua is a fixed price. How much did Papua mean in Soekarno’s eyes? Soekarno had described it during a speech at Banteng Square on November 18, 1957.
In his speech entitled “Djangan Ragu-ragu Lagi!” (Don’t Hesitate Anymore!), Soekarno said that in the Constitution, there is a written text about the territory of the Republic of Indonesia. “What is Indonesia? Indonesia consisted of all the islands between Sabang and Merauke,” Soekarno said. This is the legal basis of Indonesia’s demands for Papua, which was legally based on law through negotiations and agreements between Indonesia and the Netherlands.
So, did Soekarno really not aware of how rich Papua’s natural resources? “If there were really nothing, why do they (Dutch) so hung up upon West Irian? What for?” Soekarno said.
In fact, Soekarno was very well aware of Papua’s economic potential. Citing the report of his geological team, Soekarno said West Irian was rich in petroleum. The latest investigation at that time even mentioned the presence of uranium.
“Similarly, according to the latest information, West Irian is rich in uranium. Uranium is now valuable in the atomic century,” Soekarno said. “So, brothers and sisters, it is very clear that the Dutch in West Irian are taking our wealth. And we also have economic reasons to demand the return of West Irian into the Republic. “
Besides that Soekarno mentioned two other reasons, namely the security and the principle of anti-colonialism. In terms of security, the Dutch presence in Papua is like a dagger that threatens to stab Indonesia from the back. The existence of the Dutch there also symbolized the existence of imperialism. Soekarno said, “If Dutch imperialism is still hanging out there, we would feel as if there is a dagger behind our back. There is a dagger behind us, brothers. “
That is why, when the West Irian conflict escalated, Soekarno was determined to free Papua in any way. The call was declared by Soekarno during a speech in Palembang, April 10, 1962.
“I don’t care about the UN, I will borrow the devil’s hand if I must, I do not care. Yes, even the devil’s hands. I do not care. I do not mind, (for the sake of) returning West Irian back to us in 1962, back to Indonesia,” Soekarno said in his speech entitled “All the People from Sabang to Merauke Determined to Free West Irian This Year”.
Free west papua – According to Asvi Warman Adam, the historian of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia or LIPI), with or without the allure of his natural wealth, Soekarno would still fight for Papua because the region is within the scope of national sovereignty.
“Soekarno would fought for West Irian with or without considering Papua’s natural wealth,” Asvi told Historia. “Since the KMB was signed at the end of December 1949, Bung Karno felt that Indonesia’s independence had not been territorially integrated. That’s what he fought for until 1963.”
Sitompul, Martin (July 22, 2018) Papua dan Ambisi Presiden Pertama Retrieved from historia.id: https://historia.id/modern/articles/papua-dan-ambisi-presiden-pertama-P3q1X