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OPM demands UN sponsored negotiations before NZ pilot can be released

Kompas.com - April 13, 2024

Glori K. Wadrianto, Jakarta – The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) and the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) have revealed the conditions for the release of Susi Air pilot captain Philips Mark Mehrtens, who has been held hostage by the group since February 7, 2023.

The OPM is demanding negotiations facilitated by the United Nations (UN) before Mehrtens can be released.

"We will release the pilot through negotiations facilitated by a third party namely the UN", said TPNPB-OPM spokesperson Sebby Sambom in a written statement on Saturday April 13.

Sambom said Mehrtens' release could also be done if the Indonesian and New Zealand governments can fulfill and respond to the demands by the OPM.

However Sambom did not explain in detail what demands the OPM is making of the Indonesian government, and also the New Zealand government as Mehrtens country of origin.

On the other hand, Sambom has asked the TNI (Indonesian military) to stop launching combat aircraft and bombing attacks in the area where Mehrtens is being held hostage.

"Indonesia [must] stop using bombings by helicopters, unmanned aircraft, drone cameras. Because the actions taken by the Indonesian state through the TNI and Polri [Indonesian police] against us are very unbalanced", he added.

Sambom also sent a video showing Mehrtens asking for the Indonesian government to stop air strikes in the area where he is held hostage.

"In this area, the TNI, the Indonesian National Army is using combat aircraft and releasing large bombs", Mehrtens said in the video sent Saturday.

Mehrtens said that people around where he is being held feel insecure because of the bombs being dropped by TNI forces.

"The people here are asking for help, don't use a combat aircraft, don't use bombs, just use firearms, don't use aircraft, don't use large bombs, don't do that. Please stop", he said.

Mehrtens then asked for help so that foreign countries could negotiate with Indonesia so as not to conduct air strikes in Papua.

"Foreign countries, overseas countries please help, please talk to Indonesia, talk to them, don't use big bombs, please stop, they're not allowed to do that", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "OPM Ajukan Syarat Pembebasan Pilot Susi Air Philips Mark Mehrtens".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2024/04/13/18282131/opm-ajukan-syarat-pembebasan-pilot-susi-air-philips-mark-mehrten