Papua’s place in Indonesia

Your article “Bows, arrows and a dream of liberation” (The Independent /14 August), about Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) is short on facts. Former President Soeharto did not die in 1998, but he resigned that year, and died only last year. But in 1998 the period of reformation started, which democratised the whole of Indonesia, including Papua where, as a result of the 2001 autonomy laws, all major positions are in the hands of native Papuans, including the two governorships of the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

There has never been a country or former Dutch colony of “West Papua”, but the western part of the island of New Guinea was part of the former colony of the Dutch East Indies and ruled as such from Batavia, now Jakarta, and the capital of the Republic of Indonesia. The Dutch delayed from 1949 to 1963 the orderly transfer of the western half of New Guinea for their own reasons, but never granted it independence in 1961.
The format of the 1969 consultation was agreed between the UN and the Indonesian and Dutch governments.
Your main photograph shows tribesmen in traditional dress armed with bows and arrows for hunting and protection against neighbouring tribes; one can see such groups all over Papua. A smaller photograph shows men armed with assault rifles,. Whatever the source of these weapons, they have been used in sporadic attacks on police and other security personnel on Papua, but also on unarmed civilians.
Herry Sudradjat
Counsellor for Information Indonesian embassy, London W1K2HW
Similar letter : Indonesian Embassy

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