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Arnold Ap, Assassinated West Papuan Singer

Arnold Ap (1 July 1945 – 26 April 1984) was a West Papuan leader, an anthropologist, a cultural icon, and a musician. He was the leader of the Mambesak group, and curator for Museum Universitas Cenderawasih. He broadcasted his cultural shows on weekly radio.

Many saw Arnold’s studies, cultural works of arts and philosophy as a threat against the Indonesian government’s campaign for nationalism and Papuan identity (Jakarta version). He was arrested and detained by the TNI’s Special Forces (Kopassus, or Kopasanda as it was called) in November 1983.

In April 1984, he was shot dead. In June 1984, the then Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mochtar Kusumaatmadja said in a press conference that Arnold broke away from prison and used a boat. The boat was intersected by the military patrol and the government claimed that the runaway boat opened fired at the patrol. The military had to fire back and resulted in the death of Arnold, whom the minister tagged “an OPM (Free West Papua Movement) separatist. His funeral was mourned and attended by tens of thousands of people in Abepura, Papuans and non-Papuans.

“Maybe you think what I’m doing is stupid, but it is what I think I should do for my people before I die.”