Jayapura – today, Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens has been held hostage for exactly a year by the armed criminal group (KKB) led by Egianus Kogoya in Papua.
Tensions actually peaked within the Free Papua Organization (OPM), where differences of opinion between two key figures, Sebby Sambom and Jeffrey P Bomanak, regarding the release of Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens, who had been held hostage by the armed criminal group (KKB) in Papua for a year.
On February 7 2023, Philip Mark Mehrtens became a victim of detention after landing at the Paro airfield, Nduga Regency, Papua Mountains by the KKB led by Egianus Kogoya, an armed militia group from the OPM.
The West Papua National Liberation Army-Free Papua Operation (TPNPB-OPM) called for Egianus Kogoya’s immediate release of Philip. TPNPB-OPM spokesperson, Sebby Sambom, stated that Philip’s release was his party’s responsibility.
“We, from the Management of Komnas TPNPB Central Headquarters, convey that Egianus’ statement regarding the release of the Susi Air Pilot must be revised because it is emotional and does not receive approval from the TPNPB Leadership at the Management of KOMNAS TPNPB Central Headquarters,” emphasized Sebby in his statement on Monday (5/2 ).
Sebby emphasized that Egianus’ statement, which replaced the pilot’s release with demands for independence for Papua, needed to be withdrawn. He stated that Philip’s release must be carried out with respect to maintain the honor and dignity of Papua.
“If we release this pilot from New Zealand with honor, we will be respected by the international community and even the UN. The dignity of the Papuan people’s struggle for independence will be raised. However, if this pilot dies in custody, we will be blamed by the international community and the UN,” said Sebby.
A different opinion actually came out of the mouth of Jeffrey P Bomanak, Chairman of OPM TPNPB, Jeffrey actually expressed a different opinion. According to him, the release of Philip Mark Mehrtens remains part of the struggle for Free Papua.
“We are still holding Pilot Philip as part of the struggle for an independent Papua,” said Jeffrey, emphasizing his disagreement with the approach proposed by Sebby.
Internal tensions within OPM are increasingly mounting with differences in views between Sebby Sambom and Jeffrey P Bomanak, creating increasingly complex dynamics in efforts to free the Susi Air pilot.
Several questions come to mind, Differences of Opinion, Strategy or Struggle?
The Conflict of Ideology and Nationalism. Conflict between these two figures also emerged regarding Egianus Kogoya’s emotional statement which confused the pilot’s release with demands for Papuan independence. Sebby considered the statement emotional and did not receive internal approval, while Jeffrey considered it a form of support for the ideals of Papuan independence.
Complexity and External Impact. This internal conflict is increasingly complicated by pressure from the international community and the UN, as well as the diverse responses of the Papuan people. This dynamic can lead OPM to its lowest point.