PAPUA, KOMPAS.com – New Zealand pilot Philip Mehrtens who is being held hostage by separatists in Indonesia's Papua region has appeared in videos distributed by the National Liberation Army of West Papua the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (TPNPB-OPM) on Friday, March 10.
Pilot Phillip Mehrtens, who works for the domestic Susi Air service, was abducted by the criminal armed group (KKB) on Feb. 7 after landing at an airstrip in the Nduga district.
In the latest video, Mehrtens disclosed some statements related to OPM's request, including calling for the United Nations to mediate in the conflict in the resource-rich region.
"OPM requests the United Nations to mediate between Papua and Indonesia to work towards Papuan independence," Mehrtens said in one of three videos as quoted by Reuters.
Also read: Susi Air Pilot Held by Papua Separatist Group in Good Condition: Indonesia Police
Reuters reported that the Indonesian officials have sought to use dialogue to secure Mehrtens' release, saying a "law enforcement operation" would be the last resort.
In one video, Mehrtens read out a statement while sitting in a jungle clearing and surrounded by a group of men, some with guns and one with a bow. Wearing a blue jacket, beige trousers, and a camouflage hat, Mehrtens said he had been instructed to read the statement.
"No foreign pilots are permitted to work and fly in Papua until Papua is independent," Mehrtens said.
Also read: Negotiations Underway to Free Susi Air Pilot from Papua Separatist Group
Foreigners have rarely been abducted in the region, but the conflict has escalated since 2018, with rebels mounting deadlier and more frequent attacks.