Crawford House Publishing
'One People, One Soul' West Papuan Nationalism and the OPM

Indonesian colonisation of West Papua and the lack of a democratic tradition have been the main root causes of the current political problems in this area, triggering the emergence of an increasingly strong Papuan nationalism that finds its expression in a resistance movement, led by the OPM, seeking self-determination and independence. These problems have continued over many years, having serious social, political, economic, and environmental effects for West Papua but, despite the widespread local resistance, the OPM has so far been unable to end the colonial domination and practices.

This study analyses the impact of Indonesian colonisation on the people of West Papua, and their reactions to it. It investigates how different views about the political status of West Papua are also reflected in views about the future of the Papuans. In doing so, it draws heavily on the often-neglected perspectives of the West Papua people. The main purpose is to affirm that because the Indonesian colonisation policies have been the main root cause of the conflict, any approaches to ending the conflict must encompass a political solution, and not merely temporary economic and social measures.

The West Papua conflict is analysed in the light of current theories relating to colonialism and to a range of approaches to conflict resolution. After reflecting on the history of the national liberation struggle, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of the conflicting parties, and on the balance of power and the role of international support, it is concluded that military victory by either side can be only a utopian dream. Because the level of conflict can only increase in the future, a new, alternative approach is needed to begin the peace process.

The empirical findings of this study show the extent to which colonisation has produced the bitter conflict that threatens regional stability and security. The study also reaffirms that because national sentiments continue to strengthen, any end to the conflict is unlikely in the near future. Despite the relative strength of the Indonesian military forces and the lack of significant international support for the OPM, the struggle will continue. By examining in detail the leadership, organisational structures and general programs of the OPM, it is concluded that the movement is seriously weakened by its factionalised organisation. The responses of the Indonesian government to the conflict, presenting social and military reform packages, are also doomed to failure. The study concludes with a summary of the main findings in relation to the determined demands of West Papuans for independence and explores some possible strategies for achieving this in the future.

To gain a clearer picture of the relationship between the local effects of colonisation and ethnic nationalism in relation to wider Papuan nationalism, and how those concepts have influenced the current situation in West Papua and the more local reactions, a detailed case study of the Amungme-Kamoro people in relation to Freeport and the colonial government in Mimika regency is also presented.


Otto Ondawame






5 maps


Portrait; softcover; c. 350 pages


204 x 135 mm



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