The Act of Free Choice (Indonesian: Penentuan Pendapat Rakyat, PEPERA, Determination of the People’s Opinion) was the landmark work of democracy in West Papua. It was an election held in August 2, 1969 in which 1,025 men and women voted freely to choose to be Indonesian living under Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity), a character and civilization appropriate to a pluralistic Indonesian nation. They, the West Papuan public figure, at that times realized very well the various regions included in West Papua experienced separate political and economic histories, so only hold motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika has been the right choice due to a true sense of unity (Indonesianness) among the people of Indonesia.
As a free choice, the 1969 event was recognized by the United Nations in General Assembly resolution 2504 (XXIV) as it complied with the authorizing New York Agreement, as specified in mentioned on Article 17 of which in part says:
“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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Two years later or 1971, an anti-democracy namely Seth J. Rumkorem assisted by Jacob Henderik Prai was organized proclamation illegally which declared outside West Papua or in Port Numbay, Papua New Guinea. Even in Port Mumbay, Rumkoren did have many followers, only under ten people. Now day, the 1971 event in Port Numbay that exploits by the Philippines’s leftist element led by Jose Maria Canlas Sison alias (born February 8, 1939) to mobilize his sympathizers to support Papua protesters pro undemocratic Rumkorem. Sison is a Filipino writer and activist who founded the Communist Party of the Philippines.