a memorial for all wars: the Polynational War Memorial


Indonesian annexation of West Papua

Years: 1962-1978
Battle deaths: 8,700 [1]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]
Indonesia, Netherlands

Published: 2013-08-03 17:06:37 | Updated: 2014-08-25 12:52:15
This conflict includes Indonesia's war against the Netherlands over West Papua in 1962 and the conflict with separatist guerillas after it annexed West Papua in 1962, a conflict that escalated to war in 1976-78.


Western New Guinea had been part of the Dutch East Indies, and Indonesian nationalists had thus claimed it on this basis. Indonesia was able to instigate a diplomatic and military confrontation with the Dutch over the territory following an Indonesian-Soviet arms agreement in 1960. It was, however, United States pressure on the Netherlands that led to an Indonesian takeover in 1963.

Sukarno made the take over of western New Guinea a focus of his continuing struggle against Dutch imperialism and part of a broader Third World conflict with the West. Indonesia launched seaborne and paratroop incursions into the territory but with little success. The Dutch knew that a military campaign to retain the region would require protracted jungle warfare, and were unwilling to see a repeat of their futile efforts in the armed struggle for Indonesian independence in the 1940s, and they agreed to American mediation. The negotiations resulted in the UN-ratified New York Agreement of September 1962,[30] that required authority to be transferred to a United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) and then to Indonesia from 1 May 1963, until such time as Indonesia allowed the Papuans to determine whether they wanted independence or be part of Indonesia. Accordingly in 1969, the United Nations supervised the "Act of Free Choice" in which the Indonesian government used the procedure of musyawarah, a consensus of‘elders’. Deeming Papuans to be too "primitive" to cope with democracy, the 1,054 elders (officials appointed by the Indonesian government) represented were forced at gunpoint to be a part of Indonesia.[31] Soon after, the region became the 26th province of Indonesia with full United Nations and international recognition.

The separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM) has engaged in a small-scale conflict with the Indonesian military since the 1960s. Rebellions occurred in remote mountainous areas in 1969, 1977, and the mid-1980s, occasionally spilling over into Papua New Guinea. In 1996, 5,000 Papuans rioted and burned the Abepura market in Jayapura resulting in several deaths. That year, Free Papua Movement separatists kidnapped European and Indonesian researchers in a remote part of the Baliem Valley. The Europeans were released four months later, however, two Indonesian hostages were killed.

A two-year study by a team of Australian and local researchers concluded in 2005 that Indonesia’s security forces had been the main source of instability in the territory and estimated that more than 100,000 Papuans had died through Indonesian military campaigns since incorporation into Indonesia. In the Post-Suharto era since 1998, the national government began a process of decentralisation to the provinces, including, in December 2001, "Special Autonomy" status for Papua province and a reinvestment into the region of 80% of the taxation receipts generated from the region. In 2003, the province of "West Papua" was created in the Bird’s Head Peninsula and surrounding islands to its west.

Sources: Wikipedia:
The_emergence_of_Indonesia and


Data Sources

[1] Battle deaths: PRIO Battle Deaths Dataset v3.0 (link) (1946-88) ID: #79 #94
Low: 3,200 High: 48,500

More about sources


NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.



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