The people of West Papua are today mourning one of the founding fathers of our liberation movement.
Jacob Prai experienced the beginning of Indonesian colonialism, and was influential in the founding of the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka – OPM) in 1965. Six years later in 1971, as a direct response to the so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’, which cheated West Papuans of our right to self-determination, Prai was one of our leaders who organised and signed our Declaration of Independence. His dream of independence lives on in my heart, and in the heart of every West Papuan.
As one of the leaders of the OPM, Prai fought tirelessly against Indonesia’s illegal occupation. However, Indonesia eventually forced him into exile in Sweden, where he established an international OPM Office. Like many of our exiled leaders, he was unable to return to our homeland, and lived in Sweden until he passed away on May 26th.
It was a great honour for me that Prai gave the ULMWP his blessing and entrusted us to carry out the mission he worked his whole life for. The unity of West Papua was very important to him. Through his dedication to both the military and political dimensions of our freedom struggle, he laid the foundations for a free West Papua.
On behalf of the Provisional Government, I send my sympathies and solidarity to Prai’s family and friends. The people of West Papua are mourning with you. While we mourn his passing, his memory inspires us all, particularly members of the West Papua Army living like he did as guerillas in the jungle. The new generations will continue his mission: in the bush, in the cities, in the refugee camps or in exile, West Papuans everywhere will honour his spirit by carrying on the fight.
Jacob Prai’s spirit is resting now, it is blessing our fight, and one day soon it will see a peaceful and liberated West Papua.
ULMWP Provisional Government