Indonesia minister meets Nduga leaders to discuss New Zealand pilot release

A man, identified as Philip Mehrtens, the New Zealand pilot who is said to be held hostage by a pro-independence group, stands among the separatist fighters in Papua Highlands province, in this undated picture released on Feb 14, 2023. - Reuters

JAKARTA: Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Hadi Tjahjanto has met with three prominent figures from Nduga regency, Papua Highlands, to discuss the release of the New Zealand hostage and Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens.

Hadi said the three figures expressed their willingness to aid the government in releasing Mehrtens through a religious approach

"I spoke with three figures from Nduga, and they are eager to assist, particularly through a church-based approach that could expedite Philip Mehrtens' immediate release," he said on Wednesday (Feb 28), refusing to elaborate further on the approach.

"Hopefully, they can take further actions on the field, coordinating with — I don’t like to call them ‘hostage takers’ — the local residents."

On the same occasion, Abdul Mu'ti, secretary-general of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim organisation in the country, agreed that Mehrtens' release should move beyond militaristic endeavours.

He advocated for the involvement of various stakeholders, including religious leaders.

"We agree with the suggestion, and [we agree with] all peaceful approaches,” he said.

According to Mu'ti, a peace-oriented approach to Mehrtens' release would resonate more with the Papuan community.

Separately, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen Agus Subiyanto has established the Habema Operations Command to streamline the operational strategies of the TNI and National Police in managing conflicts in various areas of Papua.

The integration of operational patterns between both forces is expected to optimize conflict management efforts in the region. - The Jakarta Post/ANN

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Indonesia , Papua , pilot , kidnap , New Zealand


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