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Encyclopedia > Act of Free Choice
A map showing Indonesia and Western New Guinea.
A map showing Indonesia and Western New Guinea.

Act of Free Choice (Indonesian: Penentuan Pendapat Rakyat, PEPERA) was the title of an Indonesian military presentation in 1969 to establish an Indonesian claim that the Melanesian population of Western New Guinea had chosen Indonesian rule and rejected independence. General Sarwo Edhi Wibowo had approximately 1025 Melanesian men selected as the West New Guinea representatives. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2000x1340, 1467 KB) Indonesia. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2000x1340, 1467 KB) Indonesia. ... West Papua is also the name of the province of Indonesia formerly called West Irian Jaya. ... Indonesias armed forces (Indonesian: Tentara Nasional Indonesia, or TNI, formerly ABRI) total about 250,000 members, including the army, navy, marines, and air force. ... Also: 1969 (Stargate SG-1) episode. ... West Papua is also the name of the province of Indonesia formerly called West Irian Jaya. ... This article or section should be merged with Papua (Indonesian province) Map showing West New Guinea region The region of West New Guinea is the western half of the island of New Guinea or Papua, and has also been known as Irian Jaya or West Papua. ...


Although United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2504 did acknowledge that an event called Act of Free Choice took place, neither the General Assembly nor International Court of Justice gave their opinion about the event, nor did they claim the Act to have been any form of self determination. This article needs additional references or sources to facilitate its verification. ...


International demands for the United Nations to resume its decolonization obligation for Western New Guinea increased after the publication of United States Department of State telegrams from 1968 and 1969 confirming US knowledge of the Indonesian military efforts to prevent a referendum or plebiscite by requiring the Act of Free Choice be conducted as a military version of Penentuan Pendapat Rakyat. Although the United Nations representative Ambassador Fernando Ortiz-Sanz was unable to get Indonesia to allow a "one-man, one-vote" within the territory, the Indonesian authorities declared that there was a unanimous vote against independence. West Papua is also the name of the province of Indonesia formerly called West Irian Jaya. ... Elections Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A referendum (plural: referendums or referenda) or plebiscite (from Latin plebiscita, originally a decree of the Concilium Plebis) is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. ... A referendum (plural: referendums or referenda) or plebiscite is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. ...


However, participants and other observers question the conduct and legitimacy of the process. They contend that the Indonesian process violated terms of the New York Agreement such as Article 18 which stated "The eligibility of all adults, male and female, not foreign nationals to participate in the act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice", and did not allow people to vote in their own plebiscite. Men who were selected for the vote subsequently testified that they had been blackmailed into voting against independence with threats of violence against their families and communities. Although Indonesia denies these allegations, recently released United States government correspondence indicates that the pro-Indonesian outcome was effectively agreed in advance between Indonesia and the U.S. [1] This page is a candidate to be copied to Wikisource. ... For other uses, see Blackmail (disambiguation). ...


Under Article 17 of the New York Agreement, the plebiscite was not to occur until one year after the arrival of U.N. representative Fernando Ortiz-Sanz in the territory on 22 August 1968. However after NASA announced the Apollo 11 flight schedule to land on the Moon for July, Indonesia proposed the plebiscite be conducted six weeks early during July 1969. Later journalist Hugh Lunn would testify that the Reuter's agency repeatedly told its correspondents not to attend west Papua during the plebiscite. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an agency of the United States government, responsible for the nations public space program. ... The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. ...


Though the United Nations took note of the results; there has been continued calls for the United Nations to conduct its own referendum in accord with the original New York Agreement. Those calling for a vote, have also pointed to the 30 year license which Indonesia sold to the Freeport-McMoRan company for Papuan mining rights in 1967, and to the Indonesian military's response to the East Timor referendum, as support for discrediting the 1969 Act of Free Choice. The Indonesian Government position is that the United Nations noting of the results validates the conduct and results. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. ... Year 1967 (MCMLXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday and the summer of 1967 was known as The Summer of Peace and Love (link will display full calendar) of the 1967 Gregorian calendar. ... Also: 1969 (Stargate SG-1) episode. ...


The referendum and its conduct had been specified in the New York Agreement; Article 17 of which in part says: This page is a candidate to be copied to Wikisource. ...

"Indonesia will invite the Secretary-General to appoint a Representative who" .. "will carry out Secretary-General's responsibilities to advise, assist, and participate in arrangements which are the responsibility of Indonesia for the act of free choice. The Secretary-General will, at the proper time, appoint the United Nations Representative in order that he and his staff may assume their duties in the territory one year prior to the self-determination." .. "The United Nations Representative and his staff will have the same freedom of movement as provided for the personnel referred to in Article XVI".

The agreement continues with Article 18:

Article XVIII
Indonesia will make arrangements, with the assistance and participation of the United Nations Representative and his staff, to give the people of the territory, the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice. Such arrangements will include:
a. Consultation (musyawarah) with the representative councils on procedures and methods to be followed for ascertaining the freely expressed will of the population.
b. The determination of the actual date of the exercise of free choice within the period established by the present Agreement.
c. Formulations of the questions in such a way as to permit the inhabitants to decide (a) whether they wish to remain with Indonesia; or (b) whether they wish to sever ties with Indonesia.
d. The eligibility of all adults, male and female, not foreign nationals to participate in the act of self-determination to be carried out in accordance with international practice, who are resident at the time of the signing of the present Agreement, including those residents who departed after 1945 and who returned to the territory to resume residence after the termination of the Netherlands administration.

References

  • The United Nations and the Indonesian Takeover of West Papua, 1962-1969: Anatomy of a Betrayal by John Saltford (2002) ISBN 0-415-40625-0 (pdf 3.4 MB)
  • Drooglever, Pieter J.: Een Daad van Vrije Keuze: De Papoea's van Westelijke Nieuw-Guinea en de grenzen van het zelfbeschikkingsrecht. Verlag Boom, Amsterdam, 2005. ISBN 90-8506-178-4 (Summary)

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Act of Free Choice (Indonesian: Penentuan Pendapat Rakyat [PEPERA]) was the title of a 1969 referendum in the former Dutch territory of Western New Guinea, to determine whether the territory would become part of Indonesia or maintain independence.
Consultation (musyawarah) with the representative councils on procedures and methods to be followed for ascertaining the freely expressed will of the population.
The determination of the actual date of the exercise of free choice within the period established by the present Agreement.
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