header ads

Subscribe Us

header ads

The Malino Conference: The birth of the Name Irian

The Malino conference; The birth of the name Irian

Those who were pro-Indonesian in the West New Guinea dispute referred to New Guinea as "West Irian". The others spoke of Dutch or western New Guinea. It is remarkable, however, that the name Irian originated from an attempt by the Papuans to accentuate their individuality towards the Indonesians. This happened shortly after the Second World War, when the status of New Guinea in relation to Indonesia was the subject of discussion for the first time.

We have to go back to the year 1945, when in Kota Nica near Hollandia, where, in addition to an administrative center, was also an educational center, where many Papuans were gathered, either as a teacher or as a student of courses for public servant, writer, etc. 

In 1945, the Netherlands started training Papuans for leading positions in their own country. Van Eechoud once said during a meeting in the boarding school of Kota Nica: "You must study diligently because you are the new Papuans for a new New Guinea".  Among those students were Marcus Kaisiepo, Frans Kaisiepo, Sugoro Atmoprasodjo and Adolf Saweri. 

Marcus Kaisiepo recalls in 1961; “When we heard on the radio in Kota Nica of the proclamation of August 17, in which the Indonesian republicans proclaimed the Republic of Indonesia, we held a meeting, and I was assigned by the others to meet with Van Eechoud, Captain at the time. of the Papua battalion, to argue for the establishment of a separate residence in New Guinea. apart from the Moluccas residence, of which New Guinea had always been a part before the war. This request was favorably received and the first to be appointed resident of New Guinea was Colonel Abdulkadir Widjojoatmodjo. Later he was succeeded by Van Eechoud.", "It is from this time and from this same sphere of thought that the name Irian arose,". “The name Papua was felt to be a demeaning designation coming from the Indonesians of Tidore, who may use the term Papua to designate only the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, Misool and Ceram. But not the mainland of New Guinea, nor the islands to its north. Later the name Papua was used for the whole area up to and including the Australian part.

“But we were not happy with that name. We thought about it and i who wrote down the name Irian, according to the Biak-Numfor language,". The meaning of the word is rising, referring to the distant land rising from the perspective of the island of Biak.

“Later we realized that such a name should not be adopted by one New Guinean population group but by the whole nation.

'The Indonesians, I admit they were handy, quickly adopted the name Irian, because they knew that we Papuans loved it. Their intention was to make us enthusiastic about joining Indonesia. But we couldn't be tempted with the bait of a name, and we're not crazy enough to just run after a golden name. So i changed my mind later. Nicolaas Jouwe (former independence activist, designer of the  Morning Star flag) and I argued about this a bit but we both realized that the name doesn't really matter whether we're called Papua or New Guinea or Irian or whatever."

Malino conference 1946

The Malino conference was organised by Acting Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies Hubertus van Mook in the Sulawesi town of Malino from 16–25 July 1946 as part of an attempt to arrange a federal solution for the Dutch East Indies.

The main point of discussion at the Malino conference was: Should Indonesia be organized as a unitary state or as a federation of states? (item 1 of the agenda) The conference voted unanimously in favor of the constitutional reconstruction of the Dutch East Indies as a federation comprising the whole of Indonesia (The United States of Indonesia), as the first sentence of four resolutions. The unanimity also included the voice of Frans Kaseipo (sent by Resident Jan van Eechoud)  who was accompanied by Jean Victor de Bruyn as his advisor on behalf of New Guinea.

Subsequently, Frans Kaisiepo, put forward the name Irian there, with the intention that the Indonesian people would understand that we did not want to be annexed by the Republic  Indonesia; that we did not like the name Papua, which we believe was used by the Indonesians to humiliate us."

Frans Kaisiepo in 1946: “We want our own leaders”

“At the time I wrote an article about the name Irian in the magazine Penjuluh, which was published in Brisbane at the time. I knew that all the Papuans who were in Indonesia at the time were very pleased with the name. In Menado and Ambon they all said, "That's it."

Speakers today  align themselves with a political orientation when choosing a name for the western half of the island of New Guinea.The official name of the region is "Papua" according to International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Independence activists refer to the region as "West Papua," while Indonesian officials have also used "West Papua" to name the westernmost province of the region since 2007. Historically, the region has had the official names of Netherlands New Guinea (1895–1962), West Irian or Irian Barat (1962–73), Irian Jaya (1973–2002), Irian Jaya Barat (2003–2007), and Papua Barat (2007–present). 

Marcus Kaisiepo (1 May 1913 – 18 May 2000)) was avowed advocate for an independent West Papua. He was chairman of the New Guinea Council, among others.

Kaisiepo led several resistance movements against the annexation of West Papua by Indonesia. He also lobbied for the Papua issue at the UN in New York.

During the Second World War he provided intelligence to both Dutch and Americans. For this he was decorated as Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion and with the Cross in the Order of Faithfulness and Merit.

Frans Kaisiepo (10 October 1921 – 10 April 1979) became an Indonesian nationalist after 1949. He served as the fourth Governor of Papua Province. In 1993, Kaisiepo was posthumously declared a National Hero of Indonesia.

Jean Victor de Bruijn (25 November 1913 – 12 February 1979) was a Dutch district officer, soldier, explorer, ethnologist and writer. He spent most of his life in the Dutch East Indies, especially in Dutch New Guinea, working as a colonial administrator and an ethnologist. He gained fame for holding out as a commander of some 40 KNIL with native Papuan soldiers in mountainous interior of Western New Guinea against overwhelming Japanese forces, as part of Operation Oaktree, maintaining one of the last Dutch-controlled outposts in the Dutch East Indies during World War II.


Kaseipo verklaart het ontstaan van de naam Irian; Nieuw Guinea koerier 10 October 1961

Dr. P.B.r. de Geus. De Nieuw-Guinea Kwestie, Aspecten van buitenlands beleid en militaire macht. Martinus-Nijhoff 1984

Nederland moet zich bij de VN inzetten voor een vrij Papua, Maarten van der Schaft, Trouw 3 October 2019


Post a Comment