Jayapura, Jubi – Head of the Papua Representative of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM Papua) Frits Ramandey said he was ready to follow up on the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) request for the Indonesian government to stop military operations in Nduga Regency as a condition for negotiating the release of the Susi Air pilot held hostage by TPNPB. Earlier, the request was conveyed by TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambom.
Ramandey even called Sambom’s statement a positive progress. “TPNPB’s statement is important and has caught the attention of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police. We consider this as progress because they want to communicate with security forces and the New Zealand Government,” Ramandey said in Jayapura City on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.
Previously, on February 7, 2023, a TPNPB group led by Egianus Kogoya burned a Susi Air plane that landed and dropped off passengers at Paro Airstrip, Nduga Regency. They also took hostage the pilot of the plane, Philip Mark Mehrtens, a New Zealand national.
On March 10, TPNPB released a 27-second video showing Mehrtens in beige pants, a hat and a blue jacket with black patterns. Mehrtens stood at the center and was flanked by TPNPB members carrying firearms.
According to Ramandey, ever since Philip Mark Mehrtens was taken hostage by Egianus Kogoya’s group, Komnas HAM has been monitoring the situation through media reports. The Komnas HAM Papua team in Wamena, the capital of Jayawijaya Regency, has also communicated with a number of parties to negotiate Mehrtens’ release.
Ramandey said that freeing the Susi Air pilot were part of the duties and responsibilities of Komnas HAM Papua. “That is indeed our task. We will immediately respond to Sebby Sambom’s request for the TNI and police to stop military operations,” he said.
He said his party would write a letter to the Commander of the XVII/Cenderawasih Regional Military Command, the Head of the Papua Police, the Acting Governor of Mountainous Papua, and the task force handling the rescue of the Susi Air pilot. “We will follow up on the request as soon as possible,” he said.
“We are sure that with this request, the TPNPB in Nduga, Puncak and other regions will coordinate to release the pilot who is being held hostage,” he added.
Ramandey admits that efforts to free the Susi Air pilot will take time. Komnas HAM Papua hopes that the security forces can work in a measurable manner. “In the negotiation effort, Komnas HAM Papua will coordinate and collaborate with the negotiation team led directly by the Acting Regent of Nduga, Namia Gwijangge,” he said. (*)