3 Oct 2006

Prominent Papuan independence activist dies in hospital of heart failure

8:07 pm on 3 October 2006

A prominent Papuan independence activist has died in a Sydney hospital.

Wim Zonggonau, who spent 35 years trying to win independence for the Indonesian province, died on Monday at the Royal North Shore Hospital, after what has been called a "massive cardiovascular event".

The Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown says Mr Zonggonau was a fine and inspiring person.

He says Mr Zonggonau was prevented from travelling to the US to protest against the conduct of the United Nations after a "sham" referendum on the issue of independence in 1969.

Mr Brown says if the Papuans' wishes for independence had been heard fairly and openly back in 1969 then Mr Zonggonau would have been a great leader, even prime minister of West Papua.

At the time of his death, Mr Zonggonau, who lived in Papua New Guinea, had been on a public speaking tour of Australia to highlight his concerns about a proposed new security treaty between Indonesia and Australia.