A History of Struggle and Resistance

Papua's Land and People

West Papua is a resource-rich territory in the Melanesian sub-region of Oceania. The rainforests that it shares with its neighbor Papua New Guinea make up more than 70% of its 420, 540 km² land area, and is the second largest in the world, next to the Amazon Rainforest. Other land forms also include alpine grasslands, jagged bare peaks, fast-flowing rivers, and gorges.


Learn about the land, people, and history of West Papua in this discussion:

Where is West Papua?

West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, located east of Indonesia, and north of Australia.

It had been previously named as Dutch New Guinea, Irian Barat, Irian Jaya, and then back to Papua before being further divided into the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

West Papua refers to the entire territory comprising the two provinces.

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The period of Dutch colonization of Western New Guinea, thereafter called Dutch New Guinea

19th Century


The Morning Star Flag was raised in a symbolic celebration of West Papua's Independence from the Netherlands

01 Dec 1961


Indonesian President Sukarno decreed the establishment of the Tri Komando Rakyat (TRIKORA) to thwart the formation of an independent state of West Papua

19 Dec 1961


The New York Agreement between The Netherlands and Indonesia was signed, facilitated by the US and the UN. This agreement granted the UN temporary administration over West Papua

15 Aug 1962


The UN ceded its administration of West Papua over to Indonesia

01 May 1963


Papuan freedom fighters formed the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM), an independence movement which engaged in both armed and diplomatic struggles


Indonesia grants American firm Freeport McMoran mining rights in West Papua. The Grasberg mine would then become the largest gold mine and second-largest copper mine in the world.


The sham referendum ironically called the "Act of Free Choice" (PEPERA) was held wherein only 1,025 out of 800,000 Papuans were specifically selected and forced by Indonesia to vote against Papua's independence

01 July 1971

In rejection of the result of the sham referendum, the Papuan people proclaimed an independent Republic of West Papua at Port Numbay or the present-day Jayapura City


A rare glimpse inside the West Papua independence movement - from the recent uprising triggered by incidents of racism to the decades-long armed conflict in the highlands between the Indonesian state forces and West Papua's liberation army.

Quezon City, Philippines

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