Release of Susi Air pilot hinges on agreement among Indonesia, TPNPB, and NZ

Susi Air Pilot
TPNPB-OPM troops led by Egianus Kogeya took Susi Air pilot Philip Max Mehrtens hostage - Dok Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – Director of the Papuan Justice and Human Integrity Foundation Theo Hesegem assessed that negotiations aimed at securing the freedom of Philip Mark Mehrtens, a Susi Air pilot held captive by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) since February, require independent negotiating team.

He believes that an entirely impartial group must be assigned by three entities, namely the Indonesian government, TPNPB, and the New Zealand government, in order to negotiate.

He observes that typically, the negotiation team would only be assigned a mandate from one party. However, when it comes to negotiating with the group responsible for the kidnapping, they may not accept the participation of a negotiation team unilaterally appointed by one party. As a result, it is essential to obtain an official mandate from both conflicting parties in order to negotiate successfully.

The absence of a negotiation team that can effectively communicate their demands through official channels has led to numerous casualties, victims of torture, arrests, and detentions within the civil society. Furthermore, people are forced to flee their villages, often finding themselves living in refugee camps.

“We must think about how to end violence in Papua. Like it or not, the aspirations of TPNPB must be conveyed to the central government and be heard,” said Hesegem on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.

“As a human rights defender, I really hope that the security forces and TPNPB stop committing repeated violence, especially after the status of Papua is raised to a combat alert operation,” he said. (*)

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