Papua Hostage Crisis : Papua Separatists Demand
JI-Jakarta. New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has received information about the armed criminal group’s demands in Papua in exchange for the release of Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens, who has been held hostage since last week.
New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic Council Chair Akouboo Amatus Douw said his country was also aware that its citizens were being used as political collateral by the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which included a call for New Zealand to cut military ties with Indonesia.
Papua Regional Police Chief Mathius Fakhiri confirmed that the National Military (TNI) and Police officials will not back down in the rescue mission of the Susi Air pilot Phillips Mark Marthens held hostage by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) led by Egianus Kogoya in Paro District, Nduga Regency, Highland Papua.
Fakhiri emphasized that the National Police did their best to rescue Marthens from the start. Religious leaders, community leaders, and local governments approached the Egianus Kogoya-led group to help rescue the pilot, Fakhiri said. He hopes that the involvement could help the rebels change their decision.
Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Coordinating Minister Mahfud MD confirmed that Susi Air pilot Captain Philip Mehrtens had been kidnapped by an armed criminal group in Papua.
He said that the government is doing everything possible to save Mehrtens, adding that the government will prioritize a persuasive approach and that it continues to maintain contact with the government of New Zealand.
Papua Police Spokesperson Ignatius Benny Prabowo said the armed criminal group led by Egianus Kogoya had committed 65 armed criminal acts in the vicinity of Nduga Regency, which included shootings, attacks, massacre, and arson. Benny said the Papua Regional Police had published a wanted list of 16 criminals.
Vice President Ma’ruf Amin has called for better safeguards for civilian flights into Papua after the recent abduction of a New Zealand pilot by rebel fighters, as a joint security team continues its search in the mountainous jungle region beset by conflict.
The torching of an airplane operated by frontier airline Susi Air and the abduction of its foreign pilot in Nduga regency earlier this week exposed yet another problem, the Vice President suggested on Friday, as he called for security to be tightened around air travel infrastructure in Papua. Ma’ruf demanded that the rebels be held accountable.
The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) claims it is still holding Susi Air pilot Captain Philips Mehrtens hostage on Monday. TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambom told CNN Indonesia that the pilot was in good condition.
The TPNPB emphasized that the pilot would not be released until the New Zealand government responded to the hostage-taking. The TPNPB considers that the governments of New Zealand, the European Union, Australia, and the United States frequently support the Indonesian government.
Sebby said over the phone that TPNPB intends to declare war on Tuesday and seize TNI aircraft until it can reach political agreements with Europe, the United States, New Zealand, and the United Nations.
National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) Chief Boy Rafli Amar said armed criminal groups (KKB) in Papua are categorized as terrorist organizations, and their handling is based on Law Number 9 of 2013 concerning the Prevention and Eradication of Crimes Financing Terrorism.
KKB is classified as a terrorist organization because it has ideological and political motivations to free itself from the legitimate government so that the police, as law enforcement officers, can carry out countermeasures.
Boy said that the KKB’s actions in Papua, such as destroying planes, attacking civilians, and attacking hospitals, were included in the Terrorism Law as criminal offenses.
Indonesian Army Chief of Staff Dudung Abdurachman said the Army had dispatched troops from Jakarta to Papua to address terror acts recently committed by the armed criminal group based in Paro District, Nduga Regency, Papua Mountains.
Dudung said the elite troop unit, which Dudung declined to name, would approach the group in a “humane but firm manner,” as directed by Indonesian National Military (TNI) Commander Admiral Yudo Margono.
House Deputy Speaker Lodewijk Paulus said the situation in Papua called for civil emergency status and urged law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation.