Arfak Incident, The Origin of Free Papua Movement (OPM) Establishment - Free West Papua Campaign

The Free Papua Movement (OPM)/ part of west Papua has begun to operate after Papua officially becoming a part of the Republic of Indonesia. The establishment of OPM cannot be separated from the history of Japanese colonialism at that time in the Papua region. In the Pacific War, the United States formed the Papua Battalion, an indigenous Papuan military unit consisting of guerrillas from the Papuan tribes to fight the Japanese navy on the coast of Papua.

At the same time with Japan’s departure, the Dutch then again wanted to seize the colony are by changing the Papuan Battalion to Nederlandsch Indië Civil Administratie (NICA). This battalion fought against the Indonesian side during the military aggression between Indonesia and the Netherlands.

However, when the political status of Papua became the attention of the United Nations, the Dutch then established the Papoea Vrijwilligers Corps (PVK) which consists of anti-Indonesian soldiers who were trained and holding weapons.

The majority of Papuan people’s choice at that time was to become a part of Indonesia. When Papua was handed over by the United Nations to Indonesia on 1 May 1963, President Soekarno disbanded the political activities of PVK. The defeat of the vote at that time then led to a rebellion from PVK, but unfortunately Indonesia responded with intimidation and violence.


Indonesia Striked Brutally

The peak of the declaration of “Free Papua Movement” was carried out by a a number of Papuans who were formerly the members of PVK. They took advantage of the moment when Indonesia was in turmoil, because the influence of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) was so strong in the central region. PVK Sergeant then led the OPM to carry out a rebellion in Manokwari and inland of Arfak.

On July 26, 1965, PVK attacked Indonesian soldiers on duty. Angered by this, the soldiers then opened fire on every Papuan they met and many innocent people became victims of the Arfak incident. In response to this incident, Indonesia then launched various military operations to fight PVK.

In the era of transition to the new order, indeed, military power became very dominant so that it was easy to commit murder. Military operations that took place in Indonesia in 1965 did not only occur in Papua. The massacre incident in 1965 became the darkest year in Indonesian history because the massacre of Indonesian citizens was approximately 1 million people.

The overt conflict between the Indonesian military and PVK occurred in the following year. The rebels then attacked offensively and as a form of reply Indonesia launched Sadar Operation. The rebel forces received support from local residents as well as from Papuans in PVK, the police, and civil servants because of the military’s cruel ways of dealing with the rebellion in Papua. This then became a dark history in the minds of the people of Papua which was handed down from generation to generation, how cruel and brutal Indonesia was.




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