One Word About West Papua

The Origin of the Term District IN PAPUA

The Origin of the Term District IN PAPUA

West Papua Tabloid – For those who are visiting Papua for the first time, it may be strange for the term district to refer to kecamatan. Districts are administrative divisions in the provinces of Papua and West Papua, under a regency or city.

The term “district” replaces “kecamatan” which is used just like in other provinces in Indonesia. This stipulation follows the implementation of Law 21/2001 on Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua. A district is an apparatus of a regency or city in Papua that has a certain work area, which is led by a district head. In Papua, the term village is not known.

The district is further divided into a number of villages, or by other names according to local customs. The formation, expansion, abolition, or merger of districts is stipulated by a Regency or City Regional Regulation.

The village head is elected by the residents. Meanwhile, the village head is a State Civil Apparatus (ASN) appointed by the mayor or regent. For instance,even though Jayapura City is called a city, it also has villages on the out skirts of the city or on the borders with Papua New Guinea. Meanwhile, Jayapura Regency also has a village, but only in Sentani District, which is the center of the regency.

As quoted from, the term district is a legacy of the Dutch who once ruled Papua until 1962. During the Dutch administration,the government above a district wasonderafdeeling headed by a controleur. A controleur will be responsible to the assistant resident as the head of afdeeling. During the Dutch period, Papua was called Nederlandsch Nieuw Guinea which was headed by a governor.

A researcher from the Papua Archaeological Center, Hari Suroto,as quoted from, said that there was a governor who was unique because he was an anthropologist. J van Baal served as Governor of Papua from April 1, 1953 to May 1, 1958. J van Baal established the Voor Bevolkingszaken office in Hollandia, as Jayapura City was then called. In this office, J van Baal assigned Dutch scientists from all fields to conduct research on Papua.They used this knowledge to design Dutch government policies in Papua.

The uniqueness of this term is one of the privileges of Papua compared to other provinces. In addition, it is also an affirmation that the country really makes Papua special, respecting its rights, history, and customs from the start.

All of us as a nation, especially the Papuan Indigenous People, should be able to use this special treatment as a real proof of love of all Indonesians towards Papua. That Papua is a close relative to all of us and that its local wisdom should also be preserved. For the indigenous Papuan brothers, this respect should always make life in the land of Papua harmonious, peaceful,and further strengthen Papua’s position as an integral part of Indonesia.

Read More: Press Statement Response to the News Release by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders on 20 September 2021

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