Nicolaas Jouwe is a Papuan son who had vowed not to set foot in Papua again, but he finally returned to his homeland on March 22, 2009. Nicolaas, who has lived in the Netherlands since 1963, returned to Papua after receiving a special invitation from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to return to Indonesia. Nicolaas even closed his eyes on September 16, 2017, in his hometown with the service medal Bintang Jasa Nararya pinned to his chest.
Nicolaas Jouwe is the main character behind the Morning Star Flag; which during this time also colored the conflict of the Papua Armed Separatists with the Indonesian Government. “I made the Morning Star Flag, which was first raised on December 1, 1961,” Nicolaas wrote in his book “Return to Indonesia: Steps, Thought, and Desires”.
Nicolaas who was born in Hollandia (Jayapura) on November 24, 1924, is a graduate of the civil service school founded by Jan Pieter Karel van Eechoud. This school had produced Papuan-educated elites such as Frans Kasiepo, Markus Kasiepo, Silas Papare, Elieser Jan Bonay, Lukas Roemkorem, and Abdullah Arfan. The educated elite of Papua then broke into three political orientations, namely: pro-independence pro-Dutch, pro-independence anti-Dutch, and pro-Indonesian. Nicolaas is included in the first group.
Nicolaas Jouwe had participated in the Free Indonesia Committee (KIM) formed in 1945, but the party later changed to the Independent Indonesian Party. Then in 1946, the Denpasar Conference did not include representatives from Papua even though the conference itself produced the State of East Indonesia; Dutch puppet country located in Papua.
Nicolaas then turned anti-Indonesian and began to form the sense of Papuan nationalism. After that, Nicolaas was elected vice-president of the New Guinea Council (Nieuw Guinea Raad). At that time, Nicolaas fought so that all parties respected the rights of Papuans to determine their destiny as an independent nation.
Nicolaas also made the Morning Star Flag, and this flag was chosen as the West Papuan flag. On December 1, 1961, the flag was raised for the first time beside the Dutch flag. This date was later commemorated as the establishment of the West Papua State recognized by the Dutch authorities.
The political process continues through the New York Agreement. Papua will be handed over by the Netherlands to Indonesia through the UNTEA (United Nations Temporary Executive Authority). After Papua was handed over to UNTEA in October 1962, six months later it was handed over to Indonesia. Knowing this, Nicolaas moved to Delft, the Netherlands. He also swore he would never return to Papua if it were still “occupied” by Indonesia.
Until the age of 84, Nicolaas still insisted not to return to Papua. However, in 2009, a particular letter arrived. The message from the 7th President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), delivered by Papuan children: Fabiola Ohei, Ondofolo (Traditional Chief) Frans Albert Yoku, Nicolas Simoen Meset (pilot graduated from the Bandung Technical Institute), and Reverend Adolf Hanasbey . In the letter, SBY invited Nicolaas to return to his native land.
The letter written by SBY touched Nicolaas’s heart. For him, the message is a sincere invitation and written in very genuine wordings. He then remembered a verse of the Gospel which says that “the tender heart will inherit the earth”. Nicolaas then met the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia for the Netherlands, Fanie Habibie, and both were soon as familiar as siblings.
“I have realized that what has been fought for so far is a wrong choice. Now I see that the attention of the [current] Indonesian government and political conditions are different from Papua [in the past],” Nicolaas Jouwe said. “I will return forever to Papua, Indonesia. Once Indonesia is independent, it will remain independent. I must go home, go home with a happy heart.”
Damarjati, Danu. (December 15, 2018). Nicolaas Jouwe: Muda Bikin Bintang Kejora, Tua Dukung NKRI.