Jayapura, Jubi – Three New Zealand diplomats and two staff of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs came to Timika, the capital of Mimika Regency, Central Papua Province on Monday, February 13, 2023. Their arrival was to monitor the progress of the search for a New Zealand citizen. Philip Mark Mehrtens, a Susi Air pilot who was held hostage by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) on February 7.
A written statement received by Jubi from the XVII/Cenderawasih Military Regional Command (Kodam) on Monday said the three New Zealand diplomats were deputy Head of the New Zealand Diplomatic Mission for Asean Brendan Andrew Stanbury, and Patrick John Fitzgibbon and Alexander Mcsporran from the New Zealand Embassy. They were accompanied by Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff Dionisius Elvan Swasono and Nicolas Hendrik Theodorus.
On Monday afternoon, they attended a meeting led by the commander of the Joint Command for Defense Region III, Lt. Gen. I Nyoman Cantiasa in Timika. They discussed the progress of the search for Phillip Mark Mehrtens who was allegedly taken hostage by the TPNPB group led by Egianus Kogoya.
The diplomats expressed their hope that Philip Mark Mehrtens could be found alive and well and be released immediately.
On February 7, the TPNPB led by Egianus Kogoya set fire to a Susi Air plane with call sign PK-BVY that landed in Paro District, Nduga Regency, Mountainous Papua Province. TPNPB also claimed to have captured and taken hostage the pilot of the plane, Philip Mark Mehrtens.
Nyoman Cantiasa conveyed a request for support from the international community in order to discuss the hostage of Philip Mark Mehrtens with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “We ask for international support to discuss the matter with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Nyoman Cantiasa said in a written statement received by Jubi. (*)