NZ Pilot held by TPNPB receives medical supplies while negotiations stalled

Head of Papua Regional Police, Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri in Jayapura City, Papua Province, Monday (26/2/2024).- Jubi/Alexander Loen

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Mathius Fakhiri stated that several requests from Susi Air pilot Phillip Mark Mehrtens, a New Zealand national who has been held captive by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) since February 7, 2023, have been fulfilled and delivered. These requests included asthma medication, aromatherapy candles, and disinfectants.

“We have also conveyed this matter to the Police Attaché for Indonesia from New Zealand, Paul Borrel, during his visit to Jayapura, that the medicines needed by the pilot have arrived,” said Fakhiri in Jayapura City on Tuesday (27/2/2024).

The armed group led by Egianus Kogoya had seized Phillip Mark Mehrtens after the pilot landed his aircraft at Paro Airport in Nduga Regency a year ago on February 7, 2023. Egianus Kogoya’s group also set fire to the plane.

Fakhiri stated that they always provide assistance to anyone who can deliver logistical needs or requests from Phillip Mark Mehrtens. He mentioned that the security forces are ready to help if the New Zealand pilot falls ill or needs medicine, shoes, or food.

“We hope that he continues to receive logistical support so that he remains adequately supplied with food. This may also include other necessities for his well-being, including medication,” said Fakhiri.

Fakhiri mentioned that from November 2023 to early January 2024, they hoped to reach a negotiation agreement for the release of the Susi Air pilot. However, Fakhiri assessed that there were other parties deliberately obstructing and hindering the negotiations, resulting in the failure to reach an agreement.

“From our perspective, they are exploiting the issue of the abduction of the Susi Air pilot as a Free Papua issue,” he said.

Fakhiri hoped that the New Zealand Government would trust Indonesia to work towards the release of Mehrtens. “There is a third party that always tries to approach the New Zealand Government to use the hostage issue to bring in a third party. We hope that [this request] will not be entertained,” he said.

Fakhiri stated that the third party prioritizes their own interests. “Once again, it is the interest of that group itself, both Benny Wenda and Sebby Sembom, who always make noise abroad about the Papua issue,” said Fakhiri. (*)

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