Case Study: Separatist And Secessionist Movements

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Q3) Separatist and secessionist movements have been a common and persistent feature in post-colonial Southeast Asia. Using specific examples provide an argument as to why you think this is the case. …show more content…
West Papuan discontent towards Indonesia has existed since 1962, when the Netherlands handed over the territory of Dutch New Guinea (West Papua) to Indonesia. Indonesia claimed they were the legitimate successor to the Dutch East Indies, and had a right to all its territories. The majority of West Papuans are Christian, opposed to Indonesia‚Äôs Islamic majority. This religious difference has led to feelings of marginalisation amongst the West Papuan population and has contributed to their understanding of their separate identity (Kingsbury 2005, 146). The move towards independence and nationalist aspiration has been expressed through the Papuan Executive Council (Presidium Dewan Papua, PDP) and Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM), an ongoing guerilla movement, which has opposed Indonesian occupation since 1963. Indonesian heavy-handedness, including the widespread killing of civilians and dispossession, has ensured a strong sense of West Papuan marginalisation from Indonesia. This authoritarian response has also strengthened the PDP and the OPM, helping them legitimise their claim for international intervention and to become a more cohesive political force (Kingsbury 2005, 147). The lack of responsible investment in solving the economic and social problems of the West Papuans is intimately connected to the further alienation of the population (Roddan 2013). West Papua hosts the largest gold and copper …show more content…
The Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) seeks to establish an independent state after years of profound Acehnese alienation from Indonesia. GAM received traction after the combined desire to fight the growing brutality of Indonesian security forces and the alienation caused by the lack of significant change in everyday life despite decentralisation and democratisation (Schulze 2004). The main economic grievance of the Acehnese was the major exploitation of the oil and gas industry by Jakarta. The gas and oil revenues, for many years, were fully controlled by the central government in Jakarta, with only three percent of revenue being returned to Aceh (Basyah Said 2008). This resulted in strong discontent with the central government and bolstered the Free Aceh Movement cause. It was only in 2002 when the special autonomy law took effect that Aceh received a seventy percent share of oil and gas revenue (Basyah Said 2008). Infrastructure in Aceh was, and still is very poor. Twenty-five percent of the population lives below the poverty line, with poor public services and lack of opportunities all leading towards conflict (Basyah Said 2008). Rising levels of unemployment and poverty, especially in rural areas, prompted the escalation of the conflict in the early 2000s. Aceh, as a former sultanate, has always been more devoutly Islamic compared with

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