West Papua

One of the Indonesian government’s goals in calling the Bandung conference was to build support for its claim to the western half of the island of New Guinea. This had been part of the Netherlands East Indies but was excluded when the Dutch government recognized Indonesian independence in 1949. It became Netherlands New Guinea, but was also claimed by Indonesia under the name West Irian. Indigenous nationalists named it West Papua starting in 1961 and the name Papua has been adopted by the Indonesian government today.

The Bandung final declaration included the statement: ” The Asian-African Conference, in the context of its expressed attitude on the abolition of colonialism, supported the position of Indonesia in the case of West Irian based on the relevant agreements between Indonesia and the Netherlands.” Indonesia gained control by negotiations starting in 1963.

Papuan nationalists resisted Indonesian rule and the West Papua problem remains an issue, for them, of unresolved colonialism. On the 60th anniversary of the Bandung conference, the United Liberation Movement of West Papua sent a statement to foreign embassies in Jakarta stating: “West Papua remains unfree, today, 60 years later. It is Indonesia, today, that holds West Papua as a colony. Today, the time has come to end colonial rule and permit West Papuans a genuine act of self-determination.”

ULMWP Bandung conference statement in english

ULMWP Bandung conference statement in french

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