Indonesia’s claim to Papua is self-contradictory. One cannot claim (as Indonesians often claim) that the Dutch presence in Indonesia was illegitimate and that the borders of the Netherlands Indies were mainly fixed by violence (as they were) and appeal to this same presence and these same borders as a basis for a legitimate Indonesian claim. The only open avowal of this inconsistency from an Indonesian that I have come across is the lecture that Dr. George Aditjondro gave some fifteen years ago for the Monash Asia Institute in Melbourne (see http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/54b/034.html).
Of course very much the same situation holds for other parts of Indonesia but for many of those one can, more or less convincingly, claim that they were somehow, though often only marginally, involved in the struggle for independence and that the Sukarno-Hatta declaration of the 17th of August 1945 was therefore at least implicitly accepted as being valid in and for these regions as well.
No such claim can be made for Papua. Papuans only knew Indonesians then as the Ambonnese and Keiese who served as teachers or in the lower ranks of the administration. They were by and large not popular. There was already then a definite “anti-Amberi” sentiment. Also, Papua was only partly occupied by the Japanese and these could not promote in the occupied part a nascent nationalist anti-western movement because that simply did not exist (the Koreri movement in the Biak-Numfor area was quite a different kettle of fish). Furthermore, the Americans, with some Dutch involvement, liberated Papua about one year before the Japanese surrendered in Java. Thus the Dutch administration had either been continued throughout the war or been properly restored in other parts well before the Sukarno-Hatta declaration was made.
I quote from the English language summary of the thus far most thorough study of the preliminaries of the so-called “Act of Free Choice”, that which Professor Pieter Drooglever was commissioned to write by the then Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Aartsen (“Een Daad van Vrije Keuze” 2005):
“The development of Indonesian nationalism entirely passed the Papuans by … (also) New Guinea had, in most respects, a different occupation history than the rest of Indonesia. It was only partially occupied. The Dutch influence continued to prevail in the south and in the interior. The occupation was also shorter and the island was liberated by the American army in the middle of 1944 already. The Dutch were also involved in this, and quickly took the administration back into their own hands. As a result, the restoration of power took place well before the independent Indonesian Republic was proclaimed on Java on 17 August 1945.”
I wish to say more about this.