Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan
Chapter 14: Separatism in Papua
Philips J. Vermonte Since declaring its independence following the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Republic of Indonesia has survived many internal rebellions that have questioned the legitimacy of the state, such as the Madiun communist uprisings in the late 1940s, the regional uprisings and the Darul Islam in the 1950s, and the abortive communist coup in 1965. Other armed rebellions have also broken out along the periphery throughout the short history of the Republic, such as that mounted by the armed separatist Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM) since 1976 in the northern Sumatran province of Aceh, and the independence movement in East Timor, a territory that Indonesia invaded in 1975 and forcibly incorporated the following year. Another territory that has been agitating for independence has been West Papua, the easternmost province along its periphery. In this case, separatist sentiments could be dated to the early 1960s, when West Papua became formally integrated into Indonesia. The impetus towards separatism in the territory increased since the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998 following economic and political crises in Indonesia at the time, which were sparked by the Asian ﬁnancial crisis. The government has been making eﬀorts to counter such sentiments, such as granting West Papua special autonomy status to give the province a much greater share of resource revenue and control over its aﬀairs. Despite the government’s endeavours, however, the local Papua communities have continued to agitate for a separate Papua state. These sentiments are clearly...
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