The people of West Papua are today mourning the passing of two towering figures in our independence movement, Jonah Wenda and Leonie Tanggahma. On behalf of the ULMWP and all West Papuans, I send my deepest condolences to their families and other loved ones. 

It is hard to understand that such important figures in our liberation movement, who helped inspire a generation into the struggle, will not live to see a free West Papua. But in their memory we will carry on the mission to which they dedicated their lives. It is up to the new generations to keep their spirit alive. 

A former political prisoner, Jonah Wenda fought tirelessly against Indonesian occupation. The Chairman for the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL), a Vice Chair of the ULMWP legislative council, and a signatory of the ULMWP’s provisional constitution, he was committed to West Papuan unity. As a long-standing advocate of the unification of all pro-independence groups in West Papua, he supported the formation of the ULMWP. 

Leonie Tanggahma was born into the heart of the West Papuan struggle. She was the daughter of Bernard Tanggahma, Minister for Foreign Affairs in exile of the Republic of West Papua which was unilaterally proclaimed by the Free Papua Movement (OPM) in the seventies. Leonie carried on her father’s legacy by working for the Papuan human rights body ELSHAM, and representing her people’s cause at various United Nations forums. Later, she became a ULMWP Executive Member. In this role she was a dedicated servant of the West Papuan independence movement, helping to lead the struggle abroad. 

Their passing is a great loss for all West Papuans, whether living in exile, in the cities, the refugee camps, or as rebels in the bush. We have lost their knowledge, their wisdom, and their profound commitment to liberation. But while they rest, we must continue to fight for a peaceful and free West Papua. Papua Merdeka. 

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government