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Papuan separatists ask for peaceful negotiation to free New Zealand pilot

Tempo - April 6, 2023

Eka Yudha Saputra, Jakarta – The National Liberation Army of West Papua-Free Papua Organization (TPNPB-OPM) stated that they are willing to release New Zealand pilot Captain Philips Max Mehrtens through peace negotiations.

This was conveyed by TPNPB-OPM spokesman Sebby Sambom in a message on April 6. He said that the TPNPB-OPM is willing to open a path for peace negotiations to release Philips if the Indonesian Military-National Police (TNI-Polri) stop military operations in Ndugama.

"We are willing to resolve the problem of the New Zealand pilot hostage through peaceful diplomacy and we must do this," Sambom said.

Apart from asking for negotiations, the separatist group also asked the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) representative for Papua, Frits Ramandey, to urge the TNI-Polri to stop military operations and monitor Captain Philips in Ndugama.

Sambom said that OPM will bring charges if the TNI-Polri agrees with the negotiation plan. The OPM's demands are as conveyed by the leader Egianus Kogoya. "As previously announced via video, the Indonesian government must recognize the political rights of the Papuan people for independence," he emphasized.

He did not specify the consequences of refusing the offer to negotiate but asserted that TNI-Polri's refusal would embarrass the Indonesian government. "Because the TPNPB-OPM has good intentions to take the negotiation," he added.

Commander of the Cartenz Peace Task Force, Senior Commissioner Faizal Rahmadani, and the Head of Information for the XVII/Cenderawasih Military Regional Command, Colonel Cavalry Herman Taryaman, have yet to respond to OPM's offer.

As widely reported, TPNPB-OPM hijacked Susi Air's plane upon landing at Paro Airport on Tuesday, February 7, at 06:17 local time and took hostage of Captain Philips Max Mehrtens. The five passengers were successfully evacuated, but the New Zealand pilot's whereabouts have not been detected to date.

The Susi Air's PK-BVY aircraft serving the Timika-Paro route was burned down by the Papuan armed group led by Egianus Kogoya.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1711903/papuan-separatists-ask-for-peaceful-negotiation-to-free-new-zealand-pilo