Papan independence fighter dies in Netherlands

Papan independence fighter dies in Netherlands

TAPOL, 19 October 2010

One of the first leaders of the OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka) Zeth Rumkorem, the man who proclaimed the establishment of the Independent State of Papua on 1 July 1971, has died in The Netherlands, aged 72.

He was found dead in his home in Wageningen, Holland He died all alone, apparently having been ill for some time. He was found seated on a chair, with vomiting covering the floor of the room. He had apparently been able to fly the Papuan Morning Star flag outside his home half-mast.

A spokesman for the PDP, the Papuan Presidium Council, Herman Awom said
that he died on Saturday 16 October.

The funeral will take place on 31 October with the attendance of his family who are living in Biak and Papuan independence activists. Awom said that every attempt was being made to ensure that his wife and children can attend the funeral, along with representatives of TPN-OPM, the PDP and DAP, the Papuan Traditional Council.

Zeth Rmkorem left his homeland in 1982 and for a short time stayed in Papua New Guinea until the government there insisted that he leave the country in advance of an official visit of the country's prime minister Michael Somare to Indonesia so as to avoid causing any embarrassment to the Indonesian dictator, Suharto. With the help of the UN High Commission for Refugees, he was able to find asylum in Greece where he lived for many years until he was able to leave Greece and reside as a
political exile in Holland, along with a large community of Papuans.

During his stay in Greece, Carmel Budiardjo of TAPOL went to Athens to interview him. The interview was published in TAPOL Bulletin No 62, March 1984.