Day of the Broken Promise

Benny Wenda, West Papuan criminal who killed a policeman several years ago, self claimed leader of West Papuan, and a small number of West Papuans living in Netherland demonstrated opposite the Netherlands Embassy in London, to mark their protest against the New York Agreement, 15 August 1962.

The western half of New Guinea became a Dutch colony in the nineteenth century. Papua was an integral part of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI). From administrative point of view, the Dutch colonial government administered from Batavia (presently Jakarta – Indonesia) the whole territory of NEI. From territorial point of view, the indivisibility of Papua as part of NEI was recognized in the London Agreement of 1824 between Great Britain and the Netherlands as well as reflected in the 1825 Map of the NEI which places Papua as its easternmost boundary.

When declaring independence, Indonesia’s founding fathers refer to the whole territory of NEI as the legitimate territory of Indonesia. This is in line with the principle of “Usi Posidentis” in which the successor state would inherit the whole territorial boundary of a colony. As far as Indonesians are concerned, the 1945 proclamation of independence was in itself an act of self-determination, covering the whole territory of Indonesia from Sabang (Aceh) to Merauke (West Papua).

Wenda was jailed for killing a security officer but managed to escape by the help of Indonesian corrupt jail officer and gain asylum in the UK.

Despite a little support for Benny’s separatist campaign, there is no international recognition of what has been claiming by Benny Wenda and friends.

Benny Wenda said that the day when the Dutch betrayed Papuan is the day of the broken promise, but actually there was no legal promise at all. In contrast, there was a historical international agreement on the future of West Papua, namely New York Agreement 1962.

All ethnic groups in Indonesia were automatically subsumed into the Republic of Indonesia without even being asked by way of “act of free choice”. In this context, the Papuans are “more fortunate” than other ethnic groups in Indonesia simply because they were given the chance to express their choice in 1969. An opportunity was the conclusion of the New York Agreement in 1962, which was basically a perfect answer of the non-formal promise by the Dutch. The final outcome of the Agreement was considered as granted, namely the ultimate reintegration of Papua into Indonesia.


2 Responses to Day of the Broken Promise

  1. Padric says:

    There are a lot of errors in this post:
    1 The Act of Free Choice was actually a stipulation of the 1962 NY Agreement so to say that the NY Agreement supercedes it is illogical. It was a face saving device for the Dutch who relinquished Papua due to US pressure.
    2Benny Wenda was arrested but never convicted of the charges so you cannot say categorically that he is guilty. If the Papuan prison system was up to scratch he never would have been able to claim asylum but it isn’t so we will never know the truth.
    3There is so much conclusive evidence to say that the AFC was a sham that to argue that it legitimises Indonesian Soveriegnty only undermines it.

  2. Gerry says:

    Benny Wenda, a convicted murderer should never be released. Mudering a person is one of the worst crime that can be committed. It undermines the value of life and the punishment for this should be of comparable caliber. Should the minimum punishment be life in prison, or should the person have a chance to be released.

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