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๐๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐–๐ž๐ง๐๐š: ๐–๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ ๐๐š๐ฉ๐ฎ๐š ๐ฆ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ง๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐ž๐ž๐๐จ๐ฆ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐“๐จ๐ฆ ๐๐ž๐š๐ง๐š๐ฅ

May 30, 2023 in Statement

I am very sad to announce the death of Tom Beanal, a West Papuan freedom fighter, Head of the Papua Presidium Council, and leader of the Amungme Tribal Council. On behalf of the ULMWP and the West Papuan people, I send my sympathies and condolences to Tom’s family, friends, along with everyone he inspired to join the struggle. 

Tom was a member of the Amungme tribe. Along with the Kamoro people, the Amungme have been the primary victims of the Grasberg Mine, the world’s largest gold and second largest copper mine, opened and operated by the US mining company Freeport McMoran. Amungme and Kamoro people are the indigenous landowners – tribes who have tended and protected their forest for thousands of years. But they have been forced to watch as their lands have been destroyed, physically and spiritually, by an alliance of big corporations and the Indonesian government. 

As a leader of his tribe, Tom fought steadfastly against the illegal Indonesian occupation. After the state-sponsored assassination of Papua Council leader Theys Eluay, Tom – who was Eluays’ deputy – was targeted as Indonesia’s next victim. This was part of the Indonesian attempt to destroy the Papuan Spring, a great peaceful uprising from 1999-2000. I was a young man at this time and was inspired by his spirit. Together, we mobilised for the Papuan People’s Congress in June 2000, which rejected Indonesian colonialism and called for true self-determination for West Papua. Because of Eluays’ assassination and my imprisonment, along with brutal Indonesian repression of other leaders, the Papuan spring did not achieve its goal of liberation.  

Though Tom himself was poisoned by the colonial regime, suffering paralysis as a result, his desire for freedom did not change. Later, on behalf of the Amungme people, Tom filed a US lawsuit against Freeport for their destruction of the Papuan environment and complicity in the cultural genocide of West Papua. 

Tom Beanal did all he could for his people, and I join with all West Papuans in mourning his sad passing. But while he may be physically gone his spirit continues to bless our freedom struggle. I want to assure all West Papuans, and especially the Amungme and Kamoro people, that we will continue to fight for his dream of liberation.  

Benny Wenda
ULMWP Provisional Government

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