I am deeply sad to learn of the passing of Julianus Sapioper, a West Papuan elder and important figure in our liberation struggle.

Mr Sapioper was working as a cook when the Morning Star flag was first raised in West Papua in 1961. The experience had a profound effect on him, and his dream of justice for West Papua led him to later join the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, OPM). 

As a member of the OPM, Mr Sapioper worked fearlessly to supply OPM fighters with vital provisions, walking thousands of kilometres to deliver them. He was jailed by Indonesia many times for his pro-independence activities, and while in jail was tortured by colonial forces. Because of Indonesian persecution he was eventually forced to leave West Papua, and like many in the liberation movement, he lived the rest of his life in exile. 

On behalf of the Provisional Government and the people of West Papua, I send my sympathy and solidarity to Mr Sapioper’s family and friends. Today we are mourning, but his legacy and dream of freedom will live on. The new generation of West Papuans have the same dream, and will continue to fight until we liberate our country from Indonesian colonialism.

Julianus Sapioper’s life and spirit is a lesson and an inspiration for all West Papuans fighting today. All of us, those struggling today and those who lacked modern communication, believe strongly in freedom and justice. We carry the flame of previous generations with us. The struggle continues.

Benny Wenda
Interim President
ULMWP Provisional Government