9 Apr 2011

Late West Papuan leader was a key figure says academic

12:16 pm on 9 April 2011

The former chairman of the Papua People's Assembly, or MRP, in Indonesia, Agus Alue Alua, is being remembered as a conduit for relations between Jakarta and West Papuans.

Alua collapsed yesterday and was rushed to Dian Harapan Hospital in Papua's provincial capital where he was dead on arrival.

The cause of death is not yet known.

A cultural anthropologist, Eben Kirksey of City University of New York, says that Alua was a key figure in Papuan civil society.

"Very subtly trying to influence Jakarta's policies towards West Papua. And I think he really played a key role in facilitating some of these events of recent years and recent months where there were the conditions that let people take to the streets and, in a very peaceful, public way, air their aspirations directly."

Agus Alua's involvement with these events has been linked to his surprise removal by Jakarta from membership of the MRP for its upcoming second term.