By Garrett Fraire
The recent killing of an Indonesian soldier has sparked a decades old debate over papuan independence.
Western Papua was once a part of the Dutch colonial empire. The new country of Indonesian wanted West Papua and began launching military operations against the Dutch in 1961. The Dutch had an easy military victory however the conflict opened up a referendum allowing the Papua people to choose on weather they would want become their own republic or join Indonesia. However Indonesia rigged the referendum by only selecting Papuan people that would vote to join Indonesia. in 1969, Western Papua joined Indonesia.
The strive for Western Papua independence has existed before Indonesia integrated western Papua. The Free Papua movement was established in 1963 as a way to resist the Dutch rule and now resists the Indonesian rule. The Free Papua movement fights for the independence of western Papua. The Free Papua Movement is small and consists of rural tribes.
The Indonesian military has taken extreme steps in containing the rebellion. The Indonesian military has bombed and burned entire villages. The Indonesian government has been accused of genocide and over 500,000 Papuans have been killed. The Indonesian occupation has caused thousands of refugees to flee into neighboring Papua New Guinea.
On December 2, 2018, 17 workers were killed in an attack while working on an highway system in Western Papua by Papua Guerillas. The Guerillas then attacked an Indonesian military post killing one Indonesian soldier.
The attack has sparked the debate over Western Papua independence. Indonesia has rejected any demand for independence.