Kidnapped NZ pilot: Indonesian military assaults put him in danger Lalrp


JAKARTA, Indonesia — Separatist rebels in Indonesia’s restive Papua area launched a video Wednesday showing to point out the New Zealand pilot they took hostage in February saying that latest Indonesian navy assaults threatened his security.

Within the video despatched to media by the spokesperson of the West Papua Liberation Military, the armed wing of the Free Papua Motion, referred to as OPM, a person in handcuffs and a black shirt is recognized as Philip Mark Mehrtens of Christchurch, a pilot for Indonesian aviation firm Susi Air who was kidnapped by the group’s independence fighters.

Sitting on a picket log and flanked by two males, apparently members of the group, he mentioned within the video recorded Monday: “It’s nearly three months since OPM kidnapped me from Paro. As you may see, I’m nonetheless alive and I’m wholesome and consuming effectively.”

He mentioned he has had “no issues” whereas residing together with his abductors, however these days he has been apprehensive about navy assaults launched by the Indonesian military following a lethal ambush by the rebels on April 15 that killed at the least 5 Indonesian troopers who have been deployed to rescue him.

“Indonesia has been dropping bombs within the space over the past week,” he mentioned. “Please, there isn’t any want. It’s harmful for me and everyone right here.”

The 5 Indonesian military troops have been killed after rebels attacked 36 troopers in Nduga district in Papua Highlands province.

Insurgent spokesperson Sebby Sambom mentioned final week that his group’s fighters killed at the least 15 troopers however supplied no proof to again up the assertion.

Sambom mentioned earlier the rebels carried out the assault in retaliation for Indonesia’s “huge navy operation” in Papua and the killings of two rebels in a shootout with safety forces final month.

Adm. Yudo Margono rejected the insurgent claims and mentioned the navy operations in Papua have been launched with a view to maintain casualties at a minimal. Nevertheless, he mentioned that authorities will enhance strain on the rebels round a number of separatist strongholds, together with in Nduga.

The rebels in February stormed a single-engine airplane shortly after it landed on a small runway in Paro and kidnapped Mehrtens, the pilot. The airplane initially was scheduled to select up 15 building employees from different Indonesian islands after the rebels threatened to kill them.

Authorities will proceed to prioritize a peaceable method for the discharge of Mehrtens, Margono mentioned.

The kidnapping of the pilot was the second that independence fighters have dedicated since 1996, when the rebels kidnapped 26 members of a World Wildlife Fund analysis mission in Mapenduma. Two Indonesians in that group have been killed by their abductors, however the remaining hostages have been ultimately freed inside 5 months.

The pilot kidnapping displays the deteriorating safety scenario in Indonesia’s easternmost area of Papua, a former Dutch colony within the western a part of New Guinea that’s ethnically and culturally distinct from a lot of Indonesia.

Papua was integrated into Indonesia in 1969, after a U.N.-sponsored poll that was extensively seen as a sham. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered within the area, which was divided into 5 provinces final yr to spice up improvement in Indonesia’s poorest area.

Rebels assaults have spiked in recent times, as the federal government prolonged infrastructure and the controversial Trans-Papua Freeway, a street being constructed into the guts of highland Papua that has infected resistance. Many indigenous Papuans consider the strikes are a risk to their id and conventional lifestyle, prompting assaults by separatist teams which have been adopted by additional Indonesian navy deployments.

Knowledge collected by Amnesty Worldwide Indonesia confirmed at the least 179 civilians, 35 Indonesian troops and 9 police together with 23 independence fighters have been killed in clashes between rebels and safety forces between 2018 and 2022.