- It was an “escape country” for the Indo-Europeans who seemed not to be welcomed by the Indonesians.
- It would serve as an investment warranty for Indonesia, insurance against debts.
- It would serve as a Dutch military base in Southeast Asia where the military could play a limited role.
- The Papuans were not Indonesians, more akin to Europeans in their character traits, less developed than the Indonesians and, therefore, needed a protective status.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
By CELLY AKWAN
Breaking News: Viktor Kaisiepo (1949-2010), son of the highly influential Papuan separatist leader the late Markus W. Kaisiepo, passed away at his home in Amersfoorts, Holland, on Sunday January 31, 2010. He was an internationally famous fighter for the rights on the self-determination of the Papuans in both Papua and West Papua, a split of the former Dutch New Guinea, the land where he was born in. According to what his wife said on Sunday, her husband had been sick for some time.
Viktor Kaisiepo was a member of the Papuan Council on Traditional Customs. He served as a representative of the council for international relations and for Eurupe. The council strives for the independence of Papua and West Papua from Indonesia through peaceful means.
Kaisiepo was born in Korido, a village in Biak, in 1949. Before the sovereignty transfer of Dutch New Guinea to Indonesia in 1963, he moved with his parents to Holland where he struggled for the freedom of his country.
Attending the Round Table Conference
Together with J.P.K. Van Eechoud, Nilolaas Youwe, Markus Kaisiepo, and Johan Ariks left Hollandia for Holland end October 1949. Van Eechoud would have his first holiday after having worked and lived in Dutch Indies and later in Dutch New Guinea since 1929. The three Papuan social and political figures would attend the Round Table Conference in the Hague.
Ariks’ role as a political backdrop
Ariks, born in Manokwari in 1898 and died in prison also in Manokwari late 1960s, was a teacher for the Dutch Protestant Mission in Mansinam, a small island near Manokwari, in 1913 and later at the Christian Teacher Training Institute established by Rev. I.S. Kijne (1899-1970), one of the most prominent missionaries of the Dutch Reformed Church, in Miei, an important village in Wondama, in 1931. He was trained as a teacher at a Christian seminary in Depok, West Java, in 1907. Ariks was prisoned by the Indonesian government because he was accused of having been involved in the Free Papua Organization that was established and started its activity in Manokwari in 1965.
His father, Jonathan Ariks, came from Kebar, west of Manokwari. As a boy, he was sold as a slave and was emancipated in Manokwari in 1872 by a Dutch missionary. Jonathan was then baptized by Rev. Van Hasselt, Sr. and became his advisor and friend for the rest of his life. He accompanied the Dutch missionary during his journey in New Guinea, the Moluccas, Java, and Sumatra.
In the eyes of the coastal Papuans living in Geelvink Bay, however, slaves or former slaves were not highly looked upon. This lack of respect was shown by Papuans who were not slaves. It disappeared through the influence of Christianity on the Papuans.
Something needs to be said about Johan Ariks, a prominent Papuan leader. Like Nicolaas Youwe and Markus Kaisiepo, Ariks also played an important role in advocating the rights of the Papuans for development toward their independence under Dutch governance. It was he who demanded to Van Eechoud that Papuan representatives attend, just like Indonesian representatives, the Round Table Conference in the Hague.
The region or the Papuans?
What was the political backdrop in Dutch New Guinea of the Round Table Conference? The region, not its inhabitants, the Papuans, as digested from the polemics by the Dutch and Indonesian leaders and political figures, was the political setting for the coming conference.
The Eurasians from Dutch Indies, the so-called “Indo-Dutch” or “Indo-Europeans”, saw Dutch New Guinea as an alternative settlement for them after Indonesia got its independence. In August 1949, J. Thiessen, a managing member of the association of Eurasians in Java, made a plea to Queen Wilhelmina of Holland through the resident agent Van Eechoud in Hollandia. He implored Her Majesty to give the Eurasians in Java New Guinea as a place where “we can rear our children according to western ideas”. Van Eechoud was first shocked at the plea but later wrote to Thiessen on August 13 that he could ask his fellow-members to live in Dutch New Guinea without turning it into a “whiteman’s land” because the Papuans had the strongest rights on the region.
However, the Indonesian delegation at the RTC had a different idea that affected the political attitudes of the Dutch delegation and Van Eechoud concerning Dutch New Guinea. If Holland held firmly to Dutch New Guinea, it would not be given priority in economics in an independent Indonesia. This condition cast doubt on the Dutch delegation and even on the Dutch cabinet of Dress and Van Schaik in Holland. In Dutch New Guinea, Van Eechoud who was informed about the Indonesian position understood what it meant for his development plans for the disputed region between Holland and Indonesia: they could be doomed to failure. So, he hurriedly wrote a note about the colonization of Dutch New Guinea and sent it to the Dutch cabinet leaders. A Catholic, he appealed in it for the internalization of “western-christian culture” and the substitution of Malay for Dutch to widen the gap between Indonesia and New Guinea. He also envisioned the colonization of the region, partiuclarly, by the Eurasians through land cultivations so that they could soon be made productive.
In the fall of 1949, the Dutch politicians who wanted to keep New Guinea under Dutch control gave various reasons.
For a lot of Dutch, the last reason was the most important for them to keep their last colony in Southeast Asia under their leadership. Yet, during crucial decisions made by Dutch politicians and other figures, the territory seemed to be more important than its people.
Like the Dutch, Indonesian political figures also showed the indications that they were more interested in the region than in its native inhabitants. During a preparatory meeting for the independence of Indonesia on July 11, 1945, Muhammad Hatta who would become the first Vice President of Indonesia said he would let the Papua region be ruled by others and would not demand that it had to be a part of an independent Indonesia. However, Sukarno, later the first President of Indonesia, said in 1949 that he was a “New Guinea fanatic”. His resoluteness for annexing the region became a complex to him. For Sukarno, Hatta, and other Indonesian politicians and figures, Dutch New Guinea remained a central issue, their inalienable right which could not be questioned nor debated. It had been a part of Dutch Indies; therefore, it had to be a part of an independent Indonesia. The jurisdictional basis for this claim was never clear, but the region had an emotional meaning for them: it was historically a part of their newly independent country. The main issue behind the dispute between the Indonesians and Dutch was not about the Papuans but about their region.
Johan Ariks, a Papuan spokesman
It was Johan Ariks who had foreseen this neglect and its future consequences for the Papuans. Concerned by both, he became a spokesman for the Papuans.
Defended the Papuan cause
Im May 1949, he traveled to Jakarta to defend the Papuan cause. In a letter he sent to the chairperson of the United Nations Commission for Indonesia (UNCI) on June 15, 1949, he said Indonesia did not have any rights to meddle with the political future of New Guinea. He considered this involvement as an interference in the self-determination of the Papuans. He agreed with the Dutch stance that his people were not ready yet for their independence. He requested the UNCI to allow Papuan representatives to attend the coming negotiations between Holland and Indonesia and other conferences in the future about New Guinea.
Sent a letter to US President Harry Truman
Johan Ariks went even further. On August 28, 1949, he wrote a letter to Harry Truman, President of the United States. In it, he worried that the fate of Western New Guinea would exclusively be decided by Holland and Indonesia without involving the most important party: the Papuans. He emphasized that Indonesians and Papuans were culturally different and the increasing contacts in the past accentuated these differences more than diminishing them. He made a strong defense of the Dutch colonial politics in New Guinea that started at the beginning of the 2oth century. He hoped that the Dutch government, Catholic, and Protestant missionaries could accomplish the process of increasing the intellectual, social, and economic standards of the Papuans.
What the Dutch and Indonesians were less interested in had already been the focus of Ariks’ letters: the Papuans. His worries about the fate of the Papuans in the future have been self-fulfilling prophecies. Since Dutch New Guinea became a part of Indonesia in 1963, the issue of having less interest in the Papuans and more interest in their region (thinly populated with some fertile soil and rich in natural resources – another “Promised Land” for Indonesians from outside the region) has been a problem not satisfactorily solved yet.
Van Eechoud’s reports about Johan Ariks
Van Eechoud sent reports to the Dutch government in Batavia (now Jakarta) about the political activities of Johan Ariks. The reports revealed a tone of slight indifference. He criticized Ariks: he considered him a loyal follower of Holland and a former slave who probably did not get enough local supports. Van Eechoud also criticized his plea for a Papuan delegation at the RTC because it would undermine the efforts of the Dutch government to isolate New Guinea. Van Eechoud also saw at the outset a danger in the way the Indo-European lobby tried to to take advantage of Ariks.
A Pyrrhic Victory
However, nothing was mentioned about the role Ariks played at the RTC he also attended, whether it undermined the Dutch efforts or not. What did happen was that the Round Table Conference concerning the New Guinea case ended with a Pyrrhic victory for Holland and for the resident agent of Dutch New Guinea. Both the Netherlands and Indonesia came to an agreement on November 2, 1949 that it appeared to be impossible for both parties to reach a consensus concerning New Guinea – in short, an agreement to disagree. New Guinea would remain an autonomous part of the Dutch kingdom.
Criticism and Defense of Van Eechoud
Van Eechoud who went to Holland for a holiday was very convinced that he would be the first governor of Dutch New Guinea. He would not. The group of old Dutch government officials who had considered this police officer as “incompetent” added another reason for their disapproval: he was a Catholic. The Dutch Protestant politicians in New Guinea held to their (baseless) belief that, as a resident agent, he profited the Roman Catholic Mission in the region. Their prejudice was accentuated by the long-held tradition in the Hague, center of the Dutch government: since the (religious) Reformation in West Europe, the governors’ posts in the “West” had been for the Catholics and those in the “East”had been for the Protestants.
Like Johan Ariks, Youwe and Kaisiepo were Papuan Protestants of Calvinistic background. Nevertheless, they had never experienced the religious schism of the 16th-century West Europe in the 2oth-century New Guinea. Even if Youwe and Kaisiepo had been informed about this division in religious denomination, they could not leave behind their indigenous culture of showing sincere, deep, and unforgettable gratitude to an amberi such as Van Eechoud who had done so much for their goodness and that of other Papuans. The honorary title of “Bapak Papua” endowed to him was even more binding to the Papuan code of honor both adhered to. Concerning his Catholic background, Youwe pointed to a self-evident spiritual focus that made both identical: both believed in the same Jesus. So, when Youwe and Kaisiepo knew about the disapproving attitude of the Dutch government officials towards their highly respected boss, they came to his rescue. They made a moving plea to appoint Van Eechoud as the first governor of Dutch New Guinea but it was of no avail.
Seldom had a Dutch government official been the target at which so many conflicting emotions were expressed as Van Eechoud. His colleagues in Hollandia, both Dutch and Papuans, held him in high esteem. Old Dutch government officials from Batavia who later worked in Dutch New Guinea and the Calvinisitc Protestant Dutch Mission regarded him, in the words of Rev. Kijne, “defender of Protestantism in the North”, as a “politically wild man and dilettante”. Dr. J. Van Baal, a cultural anthropologist who had been a government official in Dutch Indies and then in Dutch New Guinea before he was appointed as a governor in the region, had a critical but realistic view on Van Eechoud. Any view on him had to be related to the work milieus in which he had to carry out the government policies. He missed the people he needed to carry them out. Though he had a lot of plans, he could not count on Batavia for help. The horrible consequences of the war that involved him as a policeman and explorer tempted him to act too quickly.
Netherlands New Guinea would then be still a part of the Dutch kingdom – without involving the “Father of the Papuans”. He would be substituted for by the first Dutch governor of Netherlands New Guinea.
The Secession of Dutch New Guinea
On December 27, 1949, the Republic of the United States of Indonesia was officially declared in Yogyakarta, Central Java. The Dutch flag was pulled down and the Indonesian red and white flag was hoisted.
The next morning, the following proclamation was issued in Hollandia:
“Residents of New Guinea!
“In accordance with the decisions made at the Round Table Conference, the sovereignty of Indonesia shall be transferred to the Republic of the United Indonesia today, with the exception of the former territory of New Guinea. Beginning today, all of you are the residents of the Government of New Guinea, where the public administration will be exercised by the Governor on behalf of our honorable Queen. We beseech the Almighty to give His blessing to this land and we pray that He under the guidance of H.M. Queen Juliana may lead us to prosperity and peace.
“The acting Governor of New Guinea,
“J.P.K. van Eechoud”
Mos Papuans, however, missed the proclamation. They either did not read it or did not hear about it because they had never seen a Dutch person.
Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved. Published with written permission from the author.