25 October 2015

West Papua Liberation Army Commander joins the ancestors


Secretariat: Box 1571, Port Vila, Republic of Vanuatu,
Ph.:+678 7740808, E-mails:


"When injustice becomes law Resistance becomes duty."


(4 December 1942 – 16 October 2015)

Brig Gen Richard_Joweni and then- Prime Minister of Vanuatu Moana Carcasses

Brig. Gen. Joweny passed away at 11.00 pm on Friday, 16 October 2015 in Jayapura and was buried with Military honor on Sunday 18 October 2015 at his jungle Head Quarters. He is succeeded by 2 sons and 1 daughter. His passing was received with deep sorrow by families and friends especially members of TPN and the independence movements as a whole because his Wife Johanna had just passed away on 22 September 2015.

His passing is a temporary setback for the independence movement because the movement had just completed its Congress following the results of this year‘s MSG and PIF decisions. There were structural adjustments to be made and appointments to fill the position of Vice Chairman due to the passing of Dr. John Ondawame and earlier the passing of Pacific Rep. Clemens Runawery. There were also major recommendations to be followed through with the agenda for self-determination and independence. His leadership would be greatly missed.


Brig. Gen. Uria Richard Joweny is the longest serving Commander of the Military Wing (TPN) of the Free Papua Movement (OPM). He rarely mentioned his home Village in Wondama of the Manokwari region. As a Papuan nationalist he feels at home anywhere in West Papua.  His wisdom and strong sense of Patriotism is reflected all the time in his leadership that always places unity and cooperation at the center of his decisions. He is highly disciplined and always lead by example. On duty he is tough but off duty he is humble and easy to crack jokes with. He is a complete role model for those that he command. He is utterly religious and observed and practiced his Christian faith daily.

He was Chief of Staff under Gen. Rumkorem responsible for political education during TPN 3-4 months Military training. He earned the position of Brig. Gen. after he established TPN regional commands throughout West Papua.  He recommended regional commanders like Kwalik, Jogi, Awom etc for appointment by Gen. Rumkorem.

Uria Yoweny joined the OPM at the age of 23 but during his teenage years he was active as leader of Youth Fellowship for his Church in down town Jayapura. After he came back from 2 years study in Java he worked for the Department of Commerce and Industries. While working he joined the underground nationalist movement called PENTANA that maintained communications with OPM leaders Jacob Prai and Agus Jerisetouw near the border with PNG.  In 1968 there was active recruitment by KKPB now TPN run by former PVK Sergeant Tukayo. Uria left his job and together with some members of PENTANA including Rex Rumakiek, Dan Kafiar, Louis Nussy, Louis Bonay and others from Colleges around Jayapura took to the mountains to join the training.

In early 1970 the air of anger and the fighting spirit was still high because of the bad results of the act of free choice a few months earlier.  There were highly skilled public servants from the Dutch era who just walked off from their jobs. Brig, Gen. Seth Rumkorem and some of his men also follow the example of Uria and went bush. There was no need for recruitment people took to the mountains willingly looking for training and arms. Being a skilled youth worker Uria was active in arranging meetings and organizing people in the camps and assisted with the staff. His administrative skills were recognized by the other leaders and become an important member of the staff at the Victoria Head Quarters of TPN. Not for long he was promoted to Chief of Staff by Gen. Rumkorem.

On 1 July 1971 Brig. Gen Seth Rumkorem and Jacob Prai unilaterally proclaimed the independent State of West Papua. Brig. Gen Seth Rumkorem was made President while Mr. Jacob Prai was the Chairman of the Senate. The proclamation they claimed, was West Papuan people’s response to the fraudulent act of free choice of 1969.  They declared Waris a liberated zone where they set up the offices of the Provisional Revolutionary Government (RPG) of the Republic of West Papua. Uria was appointed the Minister of Information. In 1976 Mr. Jacob Prai attempted a coup against Rumkorem but failed so he set up another government called Defacto. The conflict was not contained and spread to become conflict between highlanders and coastal people. TPN was split and the Senate in disarray. TPN was weakened considerably and could not respond effectively to the Indonesian attacks causing many deaths. The original Victoria was abandoned; many members of the RPG sought asylum overseas while Uria and Rumkorem took the remaining TPN personnel away from the border area. In 1982 as Rumkorem was preparing to travel overseas, Uria was appointed Minister of Defense.

Vanuatu that since independence in July 1980 declared its support for OPM was very concerned about the disunity within the OPM. The late PM. Fr. Walter Lini and Barak Sope, then Secretary General of Vanuaaku Pati worked with Andy Ayamiseba the Manager of the Black Brothers and OPM representative Rex Rumakiek to try and find a solution to the disunity. Finally, a break through. Both leaders accepted an invitation by the government  to come to Vanuatu to resolve their conflict. They were told that if they don’t unite it would be hard for Vanuatu to take the case to international forums. On the 10 of August 1986 Prai and Rumkorem signed what was known as Port Vila Declaration.

Once again Port Vila became host to another West Papuan leaders meeting when WPNCL was inaugurated in April 2008. It was in this meeting that Uria Richard Joweny was elected as Chairman of WPNCL, the late Dr. John Ondawame Vice Chairman and Rex Rumakiek, Secretary General; all members of OPM.  Brig. Gen. Uria Richard Jowey had visited Vanuatu and met with leaders of the country. He has also visited Fji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Under his Chairmanship West Papua was officially placed on MSG agenda and West Papuan right of self-determination being recognized.

In 2014 when Vanuatu once again hosted a unitary meeting on the request of MSG, Uria Yoweny led a delegation of 100 leaders and members of WPNCL (TPN/OPM, Presidium Dewan Papua, Dewan Adat, WPNCL, KNPB/PNWP, dan Bintang-14). These leaders managed to come as far as Port Moresby. They could not continue on to Port Vila due to lack of finance. The new body United Liberation Movement for Wes Papua was established without their presence. They remained in Port Moresby until the Secretary General arrived from Port Vila to brief them before they could go home. They all support the Saralana Declaration of Unity in respect of Vanuatu people and their government.

 Uria Yoweny is maybe gone but his legacy of true Papuan patriot will remain with us forever.

For further details contact,
Rex Rumakiek, Secretary General, +61414149001,
Andy Ayamiseba, Head of Vanuatu Mission, +678 7740808
Paula Makabory, Head of Australian Mission, +61 423451540