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West Papua Paper

West Papua Paper

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Published by A. M. Taylor
This was just a paper written about the aspirations for independence of the West Papuans - in a lesser-known region known as Irian Jaya -- currently under Indonesian control.
This was just a paper written about the aspirations for independence of the West Papuans - in a lesser-known region known as Irian Jaya -- currently under Indonesian control.

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Published by: A. M. Taylor on Apr 12, 2010
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 West Papuan Aspirations
Alan M. TaylorStruggles for Independence and Autonomy • Brigham Young University •November 13, 2009Geography 341 - Political GeographyAll Right Reserved © 2010, Alan Taylor
West Papuan Aspirations: A Dream DeferredIn 1951, an American poet by the name of Langston Hughes published a poem in whichhe contemplated the fate of a dream that was delayed and put off. Though expressed in a varietyof ways, the outcome was always an unpleasant one - that the dream, if left untended for longenough, will eventually become rotten, shriveled, and useless. 50 years after the Civil Rightsmovement in the United States was gathering support, we still find ourselves in a world that islittered with minority groups whose aspirations (or ‘dreams,’ as Langston Hughes might say) arevaried, but the majority of which still share a common thread: the desire for a national identity -a set of qualities that both unifies a people, and sets it apart from other groups. For these groupsto fulfill their aspirations, each will need to strike a careful balance between insurrection andcooperation with their respective governing power, and while doing so, demonstrate to theoutside world that they can make better sustainable use of any territory in question than the statewhich surrounds them. Like it or not, for minority groups to garner international support andeventually attain their goal, they’ll find that it must be ‘bought,’ not earned. West Papuans willeventually commiserate with the predecessors of the American Civil Rights movement whenthey find they have to buy back the freedom that was taken from them by force.Unfortunately for many of these minority groups, the approval they seek will have to be bought on terms not of their own choosing. Ironically, the West Papuans find themselves in aworld where, although democracy is widely espoused as a noble cause, it will not be enough tosimply prove that they are the victim of a tyrannical oppressor. Nor should they expect toimmediately find a sympathetic ear to their plight among the fellowship of modern states. Even
the USA, with its history of globe-trotting in defense of government by the people, has a poor track record in dealing with its own indigenous peoples seeking to forge a national identity. Thetrend of globalization has permanently complicated the process through which minority groups(especially those seeking independence) can take their place on the world stage; they can nolonger win their battles with ideological merits alone. The West Papuans will have to showthey’ve adopted the values of a world that is rapidly undergoing a rebirth of globalization (anidea that traditional cultures often find unappealing), before the world will reciprocally valuetheir drive for autonomy or independence. It is in this predicament that the West Papuans findthemselves currently: eager to throw off the chains that bind them to Indonesian government, butas of yet unable to make a convincing case on the world stage for their own independence.Aspirations notwithstanding, it is still helpful to understand what will make the WestPapuan path to independence such a long and arduous one, if they and their supporters see itthrough to the end. As both Mikesell and Murphy explain in their work regarding minority groupaspirations, independence is one facet of a diagnostic equation. Represented as a fraction with“rap” as the numerator, and “SAI” as the denominator (Mikesell & Murphy, 2003), “rap”represent a minority’s aspiration to attain recognition by, access to the benefits of, and participation in the particular state they are part of. When it is clear that their aspirations aremore directed towards self-determination, then the S, A, and I (separation, autonomy, andindependence, respectively) of the denominating portion of the equation are used to indicate thedegree to which a minority group desires to steer its own course. This equation is designed tomake it easier to compare the aspirations of one group relative to another, not necessarily toexplain the intricacies of each particular case. However, in the case of the West Papuans, their 

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