Military Wiki
Papua conflict
New guinea named.PNG
New Guinea
  Papua (province)
  West Papua (province)
  Papua New Guinea
LocationPapua and West Papua, Indonesia
Status Ongoing

New Guinea mainly

  • Papua New Guinea border spillages
  • West Papua mainly
Indonesia Indonesia
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (on/off since 1980s)
Morning Star flag.svg Free Papua Movement
Casualties and losses
100,000 displaced[1]
150,000 to over 400,000 dead in total[2][3][4]

The Papua conflict is due to an Independence Movement by the Indigenous people of West Papua in the Indonesia eastern island Papua. A predominant amount of the fighting occurs within Papua and West Papua provinces on the island of New Guinea. Since the withdrawal of the Dutch colonial administration in 1963,[5] the Free Papua Movement (OPM), a militant Papuan-independence organization, has conducted a low-level guerrilla war against the Indonesian state, targeting the Indonesian military and police, as well as engaging in the kidnapping of both (non-Papuan) Indonesian settlers and foreigners.[6] West Papuans have conducted various protests and flag-raising ceremonies for independence or federation with Papua New Guinea,[6] and accuse the Indonesian government of indiscriminate violence and of suppressing their freedom of expression. Hundreds of thousands of West Papuans have been killed by the Indonesian military since 1961.[7][8]


In December 1949, at the end of the Indonesian National Revolution, the Netherlands agreed to recognize Indonesian sovereignty over the territories of the former Dutch East Indies, with the exception of Western New Guinea, which the Dutch continued to hold as Netherlands New Guinea. The nationalist Indonesian government argued that it was the successor state to the whole of the Dutch East Indies and wanted to end the Dutch colonial presence in the archipelago. The Netherlands argued that the Papuans were ethnically different[9] and that the Netherlands would continue to administer the territory until it was capable of self-determination.[10] From 1950 on the Dutch and the Western powers agreed that the Papuans should be given an independent state, but due to global considerations, mainly the Kennedy administration's concern to keep Indonesia on their side of the Cold War, the United States pressured the Dutch to sacrifice Papua's independence and transfer the country to Indonesia.[11]

In 1962, the Dutch agreed to relinquish the territory to temporary United Nations administration, signing the so-called New York Agreement, which included a provision that a plebiscite would be held before 1969. The Indonesian military organised this vote, called the Act of Free Choice in 1969 to determine the population's views on Papua and West Papua's future; the result was in favor of integration into Indonesia. In violation of the Agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands, the vote was a show of hands in the presence of the Indonesian military, and only involved 1025 hand picked people who were forced at gunpoint to vote for integration with Indonesia, much less than 1% of those who should have been eligible to vote. The legitimacy of the vote is hence disputed by independence activists, who launched a campaign of protests against the military occupation of West Papua by Indonesia. The Indonesian government is accused of human rights abuses, such as attacks on OPM-sympathetic civilians and jailing people who raise the West Papuan National Morning Star flag for treason.[12] Official estimates are that up to 450,000 Indigenous Papuans have been killed in the conflict. (Such numbers amount to Genocide under UN Constitution).[4]

Through the transmigration program, which since 1969 includes migration to Papua, about half of the 2.4 million inhabitants of Indonesian Papua are born in Java.,[4] though intermarriage is increasing and the offspring of transmigrants have come to see themselves as "Papuan" over their parents' ethnic group.[13]

In 2010, 13,500 Papuan refugees lived in exile in the neighboring independent state of Papua New Guinea (PNG),[4] and occasionally the fighting spills over the border. As a result, the Papua New Guinea Defence Force has set up patrols along PNG's western border to prevent infiltration by the OPM. Additionally, the PNG government has been expelling resident "border crossers" and making a pledge of no anti-Indonesian activity a condition for migrants' stay in PNG. Since the late 1970s, the OPM have made retaliatory "threats against PNG business projects and politicians for the PNGDF's operations against the OPM".[14] The PNGDF has performed joint border patrols with Indonesia since the 1980s, although the PNGDF's operations against the OPM are "parallel".[15]

In 2004, the UK based Free West Papua Campaign was set up by exiled West Papuan leader Benny Wenda to encourage the UN to hold an Independence Referendum in West Papua. The Campaign has growing International support and the backing of notable figures such as Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.[16] In 2012, the Campaign issued an arrest warrant for Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for his state visit to the UK in October–November that year. Yudhoyono was protested against everywhere he went in London and regularly saw West Papuan National Flags of Independence which are illegal in Indonesia.

Timeline (Overview)

Brief Summary and Outline of Major Events


  • 1966–67: Aerial bombing of Arfak Mountains
  • Jan–Mar 1967: Aerial bombing of Ayamaru and Teminabuan areas
  • 1967: Operasi Tumpas (operation obliteration). 1,500 alleged dead in Ayamaru, Teminabuan and Inanuatan.
  • Apr 1969: Aerial bombing of Wissel Lake District (Paniai and Enarotali area); 14,000 survivors escape into the jungle.


  • Jun 1971: Mr Henk de Mari reported that 55 men from two villages in North Biak were forced to dig their own graves before being shot. Published in Dutch daily De Telegraaf Oct 1974.
  • Unknown: 500 Papuan corpses found in jungle Lereh District, south west of Sentani Airport, Jayapura region.
  • 1974: In North Biak, 45 Papuans killed, names and ages known.
  • 1975: In Biak, at least 41 people from Arwam and Rumbin villages were killed.
  • 1977: Aerial bombing of Akimuga (Freeport McMoRan Inc. mine area).
  • 1977-78: Aerial bombing of Baliem Valley.
  • Apr 1978: Six unidentifiable bodies were discovered in the Dosai district of Jayapura.
  • May 1978: Five OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka) leaders surrender to save the village they were caught in. They are beaten to death with red hot iron bars and their bodies thrown into a pit latrine. The 125 villagers were then machine gunned as suspected OPM sympathizers.
  • Jun 1978: 14 corpses found shot, West of Sentani Airport, Jayapura region.
  • Unknown: North Biak, 12 people shot after receiving permission to leave camp to collect sago for a village feast.


  • 1981: 10 killed, 58 disappear without trace. Paniai Region.
  • Jun–Aug 1981: Operasi Sapu Bersih (Operation Clean Sweep), populations of Ampas-Waris and Batte-Arso villages bayoneted and left.
  • Sep–Dec 1981: estimated 13,000 killed in the central highlands.
  • Jul 1984: Naval, air, and ground troop assault of Nagasawa/Ormo Kecil village, 200 dead.
  • Unknown: Naval shelling of Taronta, Takar, and Masi-Masi coastal villages; survivors fled towards Jayapura; under Dutch in 1950 each village had 1500 to 2000 population.
  • mid 1985: 2,500 killed in Paniai area of Wissel Lake district, including 115 from Iwandoga and Kugapa villages massacred by troops 24/6/1985; 10 people, the village, food gardens, and livestock of Epomani village, Obano Sub-district; 15 people, village, and livestock of Ikopo village Monemane district; and 517 people, 12 villages, food gardens, and live-stock of Monemane.
  • 1986–87: 34 known persons shot, Paniai/Wissel Lake District.
  • On 1996: OPM hostage a group of foreigners in Irian Jaya.[6] See 1996 shooting incident
  • On January 1997: 26 people were taken hostage in the village of Mapunduma, two Indonesian hostages were killed during the release operation.


  • On October 6, 2000: As police raid a flag-raising ceremony in Wamena, a mob forms and two non-Papuans are killed in unclear circumstances. The mob starts to riot and to move to a neighborhood of migrants from elsewhere in Indonesia, burning and looting shops with security forces in pursuit. Seven Papuans are shot and twenty-four non-Papuans are killed.[17]
  • On November 11, 2001: Two weeks after rejecting the autonomy law as soon as it had passed, the chairman of the Papua Presidium Council, Theys Eluay, was found murdered in his car outside Jayapura after he had been kidnapped by Kopassus soldiers.[18]
  • On August 31, 2002: rebels attack on a group of American professors. 3 are killed and 12 others were wounded. The police accused the OPM to be responsible.[19]
  • On December 1, 2003: A group of 500 people hoisted the separatist flag, several other actions have taken place. 42 people were arrested.
  • On October 15, 2004: Papuan rebels killed six civilians in an attack in Puncak Jaya.[20]
  • On March 16, 2006: Three policemen and an airman were killed and 24 other people injured during a clash with papuan and students who have been demanding closure of Freeport's Grasberg mine in Papua.[21]
  • On August 9, 2008: In Wamena, one man, Opinus Tabuni (a distant relative of Buchtar Tabuni), was killed when Indonesian security forces opened fire in response to the raising of the banned Morning Star flag by activists at a large rally organized by DAP (Dewan Adat Papua – Papuan Customary Council) marking the UN-declared International Day of the World's Indigenous People.[22]
  • On December 4, 2008: 4 Papuans were wounded by gunfire from the police court of a demonstration for the independence of West Papua.[23]
  • On January 29, 2009: At least 5 Papuans were wounded by shots fired by police during a demonstration.[23]
  • On March 14, 2009: One Indonesian Army soldier was killed during an attack against a security posts in Tingginambut. The OPM was blamed.[24]
  • On April 8, 2009: Several bombs exploded against a bridge and a refinery on the island of Biak. One person is killed.[23]
  • On April 9, 2009: A bomb attack in Jayapura killed 5 men and injured severely several others.[25] Meanwhile, about 500 militants attacked a police post with bows and arrows and petrol bombs. The police reacted and killed someone.[26]
  • On April 11–12, 2009: Fighting between the army and the Papuan resistance did 11 dead including 6 members of law enforcement. At the same time, a bomb was defused against a police station in Biak.[23]
  • On April 15, 2009: An attack against a convoy of police in Tingginambut killed one and wounding six. The OPM is blamed.[23]
  • On July 11, 2009: An employee of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s Indonesian unit was shot dead in an attack outside the company’s mine in Papua.[27]
  • On July 2009: OPM members hoisted the flag of West Papua in the village of Jugum. Afterwards more than 30 houses were burned by the Indonesian army.[28]
  • On August 12, 2009: A convoy of 16 buses for employees of Freeport-McMoRan Copper's is ambushed. Two people were killed and 5 wounded.[29]
  • On December 16, 2009: Free Papua Movement (OPM) leader Kelly Kwalik was shot and killed by Indonesian police during a raid in Timika.[30]


  • On January 24, 2010: Rebels ambushed a convoy of miner PT Freeport McMoran. Nine people were injured, OPM denied responsibility.[31]
  • On March 1, 2010: Australia West Papua Association in Sydney said that the situation in West Papua is deteriorating. Since last July there have been 14 incidents of shootings around the Grasberg mine, Freeport's copper and gold mine, these attacks had killed at least 3 and 13 injured.[32]
  • On March 23, 2010: Rebels attacked an Indonesian troops convoy. It seems that some soldiers are injured.[33]
  • On May, 2010 : A military operation following the assassination by suspected members of the OPM of 3 workers in construction did at least 2 dead and a woman raped while houses in 3 villages were burned by the military.[34]
  • On May 17, 2010: The army attacked a base of OPM killing one suspected militant.[34]
  • On May 21, 2010: Militants have attacked members of the Indonesian army near Yambi, 75 km from Mulia. No casualties were reported.[34]
  • On June 15, 2010: An officer of the Indonesian elite police was shot dead during a patrol. Since the beginning of the year is the third police officer killed. Eight firearms were also stolen by the rebels.[35]
  • On July, 2010: 12 houses and two churches were destroyed and a woman was raped during an operation of the Indonesian army to capture Goliath Tabuni.[36]
  • On June 23, 2011: A police officer from Jayapura, was shot by alleged members of the Free Papua Movement.[37]
  • On July 6, 2011: Three soldiers were shot during a clash with unknown attackers in Kalome village, Tingginambut district.[38]
  • On July 20, 2011: An Indonesian soldier was killed in an ambush against a military security squad at Puncak Jaya district in Papua.[38]
  • On July 31, 2011: Rebels attacked a car in Papua with guns, axes and knives killing one soldier and three civilians and wounding seven, OPM denied responsibility.[39][40]
  • On August 1, 2011: The National Police said that members of the Free Papua Movement killed four citizens near Tanjakan Gunung Merah, Paniai.[41]
  • On August 2, 2011: A soldier guarding a military post in Tingginambut was killed by a bullet to the chest and in the town of Mulia two shootings targeting police and military offices have injured one soldier.[42]
  • On August 3, 2011: Separatists shot an army helicopter as it evacuated the body of a soldier they had allegedly killed.[42]
  • On October 22, 2011: Al Jazeera published footage of an independence gathering that was attacked by Indonesian security forces. At least five people were killed.[43][44]
  • On December 2, 2011: An officer from Jayapura Police office was found dead next to a river on Thursday after he was allegedly slain by a group wielding arrows and daggers. OPM was blamed.[45]
  • On December 5, 2011: Two policemen were killed in Puncak Jaya during an exchange of fire with suspected members of the Free Papua Movement.[46]
  • On December 12, 2011: police attacked the headquarters of a local cell of the OPM. The police seized firearms, ammunition, knives, combat gear, documents, Morning Star flags and killed 14 militants.[47]
  • In 2012, West Papuan National Committee's (KNPB) Chairman (Mako Tabuni) was assassinated by the Indonesian military in Jayapura.
  • On February 22, 2013 a military helicopter was damaged by ground fire while attempting to remove the bodies of soldiers killed fighting the OPM earlier. At least 3 members of the crew where injured. 8 Indonesian army soldiers where killed in fighting around the same time.[48]

See also

  • New York Agreement
  • Forgotten Bird of Paradise
  • Netherlands New Guinea

Free West Papua Campaign


  3. George, William Lloyd (2011-07-17). "No Man's Island". Newsweek. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Philippe Pataud Celerier, Autonomy isn’t independence; Indonesian democracy stops in Papua, Le Monde Diplomatique, June 2010
  5. "Papua als Teil Indonesiens". Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Pike, John (2009-04-17). "Free Papua Movement". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  7. "Protest and Punishment" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  8. "Protest and Punishment | Human Rights Watch". 2007-02-20. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  9. Singh, Bilveer (2008). Papua: Geopolitics and the Quest for Nationhood. Transaction Publishers. pp. 61–64. 
  10. Penders, Christian Lambert Maria (2002). The West New Guinea Debacle: Dutch Decolonization and Indonesia, 1945-1962. University of Hawaii Press. p. 154. 
  11. Bilveer Singh, page 2
  12. Lintner, Bertil (January 21, 2009). "Papuans Try to Keep Cause Alive". Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  13. Heidbüchel, Esther (2007). The West Papua Conflict in Indonesia: Actors, Issues, and Approaches. Johannes Herrmann Verlag. pp. 87–89. 
  14. May, Ronald James (2001). State and Society in Papua New Guinea: The First Twenty-Five Years. ANU E Press. pp. 238, 269, 294. 
  15. King, Peter (2004). West Papua & Indonesia since Suharto: Independence, Autonomy, or Chaos?. UNSW Press. p. 179. 
  16. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. "West Papua: Nobel Prize Desmond Tutu calls on UN to act". Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  17. "Violence and Political Impasse in Papua". Human Rights Watch. July 2001. Retrieved 2011-04-21. 
  18. United States' Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Indonesia 2001
  19. "Free Papua Movement". Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  20. "'Papua separatists' kill six civilians, JAKARTA POST". Worldsources Online. October 15, 2004. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. 
  21. "LEAD: 4 security personnel killed in clash over U.S. mine. | Goliath Business News". 2006-03-20. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  22. "INDONESIA: The killing of a Papuan at a demonstration remains unpunished — Asian Human Rights Commission". Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 [1][dead link]
  24. "Separatists attack Indonesia's Papua, killing one soldier_English_Xinhua". 2009-03-14. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  25. "Police blame group for election attacks « Free West Papua – For a Free and Independent West Papua". 2009-04-25. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  26. "Violence in West Papua « Free West Papua – For a Free and Independent West Papua". 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  27. Moestafa, Berni (2009-07-11). "Freeport Indonesia Employee Shot Dead in Attack Near Papua Mine". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  28. "INDONESIA: Police and soldiers burn houses and destroy resources in Papua's Bolakme district — Asian Human Rights Commission". Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  29. SD. "Pour convaincre, la vérité ne peut suffire: Une insurrection oubliée en Papouasie indonésienne". Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  30. "Fears for more tension in Mimika after killing of Papua’s Kwalik". 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  31. "OPM Denies Responsibility for Ambush And Calls Police Accusation ‘Baseless’". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  32. "AWPA Calls Rudd To Raise West Papua With Indonesia". Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  33. "West Papua Report April 2010: OPM ceasefire call, Troop increase, Merauke food estate, State Dept.HR". Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 "West Papua Report June 2010". Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  35. "Brimob Officer on Trail Of OPM Gunned Down". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  36. "West Papua Report July 2010". 1961-12-01. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  38. 38.0 38.1 Soldier Killed in Another Ambush in Papua
  39. un soldat et trois civils tues dans une attaque en indonesie
  40. Papua rebel leader denies bloody attack
  41. OPM launched double attacks against civilians: Police
  42. 42.0 42.1 Separatists Kill Soldier, Attack Chopper in Papua: Police
  43. "Forces raid Papuan independence gathering". Al Jazeera. 2011-10-22. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 

Further reading

External Sources links

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