JAKARTA,_- TNI Commander Admiral Yudo Margono claims that the Susi Air pilot Phillip Mark Mehrtens who was taken hostage by the armed criminal group (KKB) in Papua is in good health. “Yes, thank God according to the healthy information,” said Yudo at Balai Sudirman, Jakarta, Friday (21/7/2023).
Yudo said that negotiation efforts to release Mehrtens were still ongoing, led by the Acting Regent of Nduga involving traditional, religious and community leaders.
Therefore, he added, the option of attacking the KKB was not chosen because it could cause victims from among the civil society. “If it’s an attack that loses someone, it’s certain that the community will be affected. That’s why we are still pushing ahead with the negotiations, the Acting Regent of Nduga is ready,” said Yudo.
Yudo also reminded that negotiating efforts were not easy to do because of Papua’s geographical conditions which made the mobility of the negotiating team take a lot of time. Therefore, there is no limit for the negotiating team to do their job. “We are just waiting for the results,” said the former KSAL.
He added, while the negotiating team was working, the TNI apparatus was still tasked with maintaining the security situation in Papua. “We are still maintaining the situation so that it remains conducive in all regencies, all districts. We are always guarding together with the National Police to keep the situation under control,” said Yudo.
Mehrtens was taken hostage after the plane he was piloting was burned at Paro Airport, Nduga, Papua Mountains, on 7 February 2023.
Previously, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), a Papuan representative, admitted that he was asked to be the negotiator in the Mehrtens hostage negotiations.
Komnas HAM Papua representative chairman Frits Ramandey said the request to be a negotiator was sent by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) of the Free Papua Organization (OPM) group Egianus Kogoya.
“Komnas HAM Representative for Papua has been asked by the TPNPB group through its spokesperson,” Frits said in a webinar, Tuesday (4/7/2023).
“So the hostage taking took place on February 7, then Komnas HAM Papua was asked on April 6 to carry out monitoring by a negotiating team,” he said.
Frits said that trust in Komnas HAM Papua to become a negotiator succeeded in reducing the impact of threats made by TPNPB OPM.
The time limit given for hostage-taking, said Frits, was extended and the threat to shoot the Susi Air pilot on July 1 was also cancelled.
“And that has come to our attention, and there has been success there because the shooting threat did not occur on July 1, it was thanks to negotiations, thanks to monitoring, thanks to how Komnas HAM provided views on human rights,” he said.