Jayapura, Jubi – The Amungsa land is mourning the loss of Thom Beanal, a prominent Amungme pioneer and politician. Suffering from a prolonged illness, Thom Beanal sought medical treatment in Singapore. However, he passed away on May 29, 2023, after undergoing extensive treatment in Singapore.
Alloysius Renwarin, a lawyer and former director of ELSHAM Papua, confirmed the news to Jubi. He said he received a call from Florensius Beanal, Thom Beanal's son, who informed about his father's passing.
Renwarin expressed his grief over the passing of Thom Beanal, recognizing him as a significant figure among the Amungme people. The husband of Betty Beanal played a crucial role in the formation of the Amungme Indigenous Peoples' Organization (LEMASA) in 1996.
"He also founded the Lorentz Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to promoting environmental advocacy in the Amungsa region," said Renwarin.
Thom Beanal completed his education in Mimika and then pursued further studies at the East Fajar College of Philosophy (STFT) Abepura. After that, he served as a member of the Fakfak People's Council (DPRD) in the 1970s. During this time, Thom Beanal actively engaged with Amungme intellectuals, including Costan Hanggaibak, an APDN student at the time. Together, they participated in negotiations with PT Freeport, the Irian Jaya (now Papua) Government, and leaders of the Amungme Tuarek Narkime from January 5-11, 1974. This gathering came to be known as the "January Agreement 1974."
Thom Beanal then became a member of Walhi Jakarta under the leadership of the late Nurul Almy "Emmy" Hafild. He was also one of the individuals who brought attention to environmental issues in New Orleans, United States, as well as cases of human rights violations in Bella and Alama during the 1990s. He collaborated with John Rumbiak, an environmental activist who currently resides in the United States.
During his life, Thom Beanal actively worked to raise the self-esteem of the Amungme people, known as Torei Negei. This name symbolizes Thom Beanal's enduring commitment to improving the self-respect, dignity, and fundamental rights of the Amungme people, drawing inspiration from the Kohia (men's house in Amungme) and Honai (traditional house in Dani).
Hence, it is not surprising that Thom Beanal had also been actively involved in the Papua Customary Council, serving as its chairman. During the 1998 reformation, he was the vice president of the Papua Presidium Council alongside Thaha Alhamid and the late Theys Hiyo Eluay. Following the passing of Theys Hiyo Eluay, Thom Beanal assumed the role of chairman of the Papua Presidium Council and undertook journeys to Pacific countries as far as Vanuatu.
After his departure from politics, Thom Beanal returned to Timika and directed his focus towards economic and social matters, including the establishment of his own company. Additionally, he continued to serve as an advisor to LEMASA, the organization he had helped establish.
Quoting the sacred words of the Amungme tribe, "Kalevogolki minggamo... Nadala liege... Nilang jolaye; Dingkaikinung wonggomong, Kalekgoivongonmok muiye. Avulkeveng aranyok dolle, Ninggaleye." which, according to the book "Amungme First Men of the Nemangkawi of the Cartensz Mountains" by Arnold Mampioper, means "The liberator is coming! A large leaf will descend in the West. But it will return. Like a yam flower bud, it will grow and flourish on the ground. Similarly, the large leaf will emerge at the base of the mountain. Observe, pay attention, and remain vigilant."
Farewell, dear Thom Beanal. (*)