6 Sep 2014

Legacy of West Papuan leader remembered

9:43 am on 6 September 2014

The Secretary-General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation says the West Papuan cause has lost a good leader, following the death of Dr John Otto Ondawame.

Rex Rumakiek says Dr Ondawame, who died in Port Vila Thursday night following a reported heart attack, was the figurehead for the Coalition as it elevated the West Papuan bid to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group to its current level.

Mr Rumakiek says that being an educated fellow and having long been involved in major campaigns pushing for a peaceful solution to the West Papua issue, Dr Ondawame's legacy is substantial.

"He became sort of symbolic because despite (his people) being rich in mineral resources in this country, he was one of the poorest of all the campaigners. He was an ex-freedom fighter in the bush, as so many of us did, but especially him because he was arrested. He never planned to leave the country but he was arrested in Papua New Guinea and put in jail."

Rex Rumakiek.