Aside from mass revolt, 1965 also saw Sukarno fall to Suharto, who then viewed the protests and instability as justification to allocate voting power in Papua’s referendum to a mere 1,025 men. Declared the “Act of Free Choice,” military records account that Papuans favored Indonesian citizenship. To this day, many Papuans instead call it the “Act of No Choice” — around 1,000 were hand picked by the military to represent a population of nearly 2 million.
Since the “Act of Free Choice,” the Free Papua Movement has persistently engaged in actions ranging from violent guerrilla operations to peaceful protest, civil disobedience, and flying the Morning Star — the flag symbolizing a Papua free from foreign rule. Having dealt with its fair share of separatist movements, the Indonesian government often labels the Free Papua Movement’s actions as terrorist threats. Thus, action is generally met with violent Indonesian military repercussions. There are, for example, documented cases of individuals receiving ten-year jail sentences for attending a Morning Star raising ceremony.