Anti-Indonesian Tribal Warfare in Irian Jaya
Widespread fighting between local tribesmen and Indonesian security forces in the Baliem Valley of Irian Jaya Province broke out in April. Instigated by the illegal Papua independence Organization (OPM) and complicated by inter-tribal conflicts, the clashes attest to the continued hostility between the native population of the province and the growing Indonesian elite. Although Indonesia assumed the administration of Irian Jaya, formerly known as West New Guinea, from the Netherlandsakarta has done little to acculturate and develop the backward province in the ensuing years. ommon Dutch colonial past is the only real link between Irian's primitive Melanesian tribal peoples and the Indonesian mainstream.
Until the recent incidents, foreign observers had considered the OPM largely moribund. Its leadership, which supports separation from Indonesia, was split over the course to be followed after attaining The example of Indonesia's inability to subdue the separatists in Timor may have encouraged the OPM leaders to cooperate against the common enemy, leaving their long-term conflict for future resolution.
The offensive's coincidence with the recentparliamentary election may have been aeffort to highlight the denial to the Irianese of an effective voice in their affairs. Specific Irianese complaints include:
virtual monopolization of local government and civil service positions by ethnic.
job competition between the unskilled local peoples and the more advanced immigrants.
discrepancies between the local tribal population and the Indonesian immigrants.
--Indonesian disregard for traditional land rights and local mores.
A letteran expatriate OPM leaderapua New Guinea (PNG) newspaper presaged the new offensive. Accusing both Indonesian and US authorities of failing to respond to OPM demands for independence frorait threatened to resort to terrorism to attract international attention.
OPM uses the PNG side ot tho joint Doraerefuge and base for forays into Indonesian territory. PNO tolerance of the guerrillas,f
'has compiicacea rotations Dorveen me two wvntix<8. Separated by an ill-defined border, the two countries are uneasy aboutother's ultimate territorial intentions.
Indonesia fears that the example of an independent, relatively developed and prosperous PNG will encourago tha Irian Jaya separatists. PNG Prime Minister Michael Somare's expression of admiration for the agricultural development model of the People's Republic of China further alarms the Sino-phobic leaders in Jakarta.
PNG, on the othor hand, suspects that Indonesia may eventually intend to include tho entire island within its borders. The annexation of formerormer colony that shared an island withPort Moresby's apprehension obout Jakarta's long-range plans. PNG may, in fact, wish to preserve the OPMacit threat to deter potential Indonesian exponsionlsra.
At the present level, the fighting in Irian Jaya is more of an embarrassmenthreat to thehold on the province. Jakarta has countered the OPM challenge firmly. The military response of the Indonesian government, however, will not ameliorate
the causes of the unrest. Indonesia shows no intention of permitting greater native participation in the local government of Irian Jaya* not to mention the national administration. An accelerated development program is also unlikely. Until the Jakarta government undertakes concrete programs to alleviate the causes ofsporadic anti-Indonesian incidents can be expected to disrupt Irian Jaya and complicate Indonesian-PNG relations.