Fearing UN involvement, government rejects foreign help freeing New Zealand pilot

CNN Indonesia – May 29, 2023
Susi Air pilot Philip Mehrtens pictured with OPM fighters – Undated (Istimewa)

Jakarta – Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD has emphasised that the government rejects all assistance from outside parties related to efforts to free Susi Air pilot Captain Philip Mark Mehrtens from the Papuan Armed Criminal Group (KKB) – the government's term for the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Mahfud explained that if the government received assistance from other countries or international non-government organisations (NGOs), there are other parties that would get involved, including the United Nations (UN).

"No matter what the stakes, international [parties] are not allowed there, because if that's agreed to, it will spread, to the UN, then to where. That's the reality, there's that, so we reject any international interference offered by international NGOs that come to us", he told reporters on Monday May 29.

Mahfud is also convinced that the government is still able to conduct operations to free the Susi Air pilot. Therefore he said, it is felt that assistance from outside parties is still unnecessary.

"We'll handle it ourselves internally. Our policy is not to involve other countries. This is our internal [problem], and we can deal with it", he said.

Regarding the KKB's threat that it will shoot Mehrtens in two months time if their demands are not met, Mahfud believes that this is not something new.

Nevertheless, he stressed that in principle the government will try to free Mehrtens safely. "On the threat of killing him, [they often] say this, right, but our principle is, we will save the life of the hostage. That's it", he said.

Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens was taken hostage on February 7 by a KKB led by Egianus Kogoya after he landed a plane at the Paro Airport in Nduga regency in the Papua highlands. In the latest video, Mehrtens said that the KKB would shoot him if there were no negotiations within the next two months.

"If it (the negotiation) do not occur within two months, they say they will shoot me", Mehrtens said. (tfq/ain)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "RI Tolak Bantuan Luar di Tengah Ancaman Pembunuhan Pilot Susi Air".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20230530073235-12-955562/ri-tolak-bantuan-luar-di-tengah-ancaman-pembunuhan-pilot-susi-air