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Supporting the Optimization of the Nduga Regency Government Assisting in the Release of Susi Air Pilots


By: Ferdy Mawirampakel )*

It is known that Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehtrens is being held hostage in Nduga Regency, Papua Mountains. The Nduga Regency Government was asked to help in efforts to free the Susi Air pilot who was being held hostage by the Terrorist Separatist Group (KST) led by Egianus Kogoya.

Official (Acting) Governor of Papua, Nikolauas Kondomo asked the Nduga Regency Government to assist efforts to free the Susi Air pilot who was held hostage by KST. From the reports received, the pilot from New Zealand is still in the Nduga Regency area.

            He also said that efforts to free the pilot who was held hostage by KST would continue to be carried out by involving community leaders and religious leaders. Approaches will certainly continue to be made so that the hostages are immediately released by the Egianus Kogoya group.

            Pangdam XVII Cenderawasih Maj. Gen. TNI Izak Pangemanan previously revealed that the Susi Air pilot who was held captive by the KKB was known to be in good condition. Reports received revealed that Philips was in good health, and the TNI-Polri were also trying to free Philips while continuing to negotiate.

             Previously, the Acting Regent of Nduga, Namia Gwijangge, said that the negotiating team formed by the Nduga Regency Government was still negotiating with KST to release the New Zealand pilot. Namia said that a member of the negotiating team had met with the hostage-taking group.

            According to him, currently the people in his area are also experiencing fear because they cannot carry out their normal activities. On the one hand, the people are afraid of the KST and are also afraid to see the large number of security forces. This made the Acting Regent of Nduga want this problem to be resolved.

            Since the hostage-taking was carried out, National Police Chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo has deployed a Cartenz Peace Operations Joint Team to search for the pilot. Meanwhile, the Indonesian Army immediately released troops to Nduga Regency. At that time the chief of staff of the Indonesian Army, General Dudung Abdurachman, stated that the troops carrying the target were looking for the whereabouts of the pilot and hunting for a group called terrorist separatists.

            Two months later, a joint TNI-Polri team arrested Kogoya’s men, namely Yomse Lokbere. The joint team also claimed to have found an arsenal in Sago Lima Kenyam, Nduga. However, these arrests actually escalated the conflict to heat up. At least five TNI soldiers died and dozens more disappeared after a shootout with an armed group in Nduga.

            Responding to this, the TNI Commander, Admiral Yudo Margono, then upgraded the operational status to combat alert in Papua on April 18. The Commander of Kodam XVII/Cenderawasih sent 400 personnel from Battalion Yonif RK J51/VJS to Nduga.

            The Susi Air pilot rescue operation has finally entered a new phase. The Egianus group urged negotiations with the government. Two months was the deadline given before Philip was said to be shot. 

            In connection with these negotiations, the Papuan regional police said that the Egianus group demanded a ransom of Rp. 5 billion in exchange for the Susi Air pilot. However, this issue was later denied by Egianus himself because his party did not want a ransom, but independence.

            Meanwhile, the TNI Commander emphatically said that efforts to save the Susi Air pilot were carried out carefully. His party also maximized negotiations by cooperating with religious leaders, community leaders and local customs. The hope is of course that there will be no gun fire between the TNI-Polri and KST to save Philip.

            The TNI Commander also said that the negotiation efforts to free Pilot Susi Air from KST would be handed over to the Acting Regent of Nduga Edison Gwijangge. Edison is currently in Wamena to prepare a plane that will be used to free Philip.

            He also revealed that the process of getting a plane was not an easy thing. The reason is they are afraid to approach the location that has been agreed upon by the government and KST who are holding Philips hostage.

            The former Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Navy (KSAL) said that the safety of Philip and the surrounding community remains a priority in the liberation mission. Therefore, peace negotiations will still be put forward in order to release Philip.

            Support for Edison also came from the Papua Highlands Provincial Government who hoped that the Acting Regent of Nduga would be able to free the New Zealand pilot. This is because it is necessary to take an approach taken by community leaders, religious leaders and Egianus’ own family.

Of course it is not easy to have a dialogue with the KKB, so there is no target time for when it will be resolved, but the security forces always try to make the persuasive steps taken reach a point. After all, an agreement between the two parties was not easy. Moreover, the negotiation effort was chosen because the operation this time prioritized Philip’s safety.

It is hoped that the Nduga Regency Government will be able to release Philip with the support of various parties. Edison Gwijangge as Acting Regent of Nduga will play a vital role in freeing Philip Mark Mehtrens.

)* The author is a Papuan student living in Medan

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