OPM Leader Guarantees Susi Air Pilot’s Safety During Hostage Situation

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The Chairman of Papua’s Commission on Human Rights Frits Ramandey said that the leader of OPM (Free Papua Movement) Egianus Kogoya has guaranteed the safety of Susi Air Pilot Captain Phillips Max Mehrtens during the hostage situation. The captain has been held hostage by OPM for eight months from February this year.

Papua’s Commission on Human Rights has observed the situation since April 7, 2023, after OPM spokesperson Sebby Sambom asked him. “Egianus as the person responsible for the hostage gives us a guarantee (of Phillips’ safety),” said Frits to Tempo on Thursday, August 3, 2023.

Frits said that during his observation, the commission has tried to negotiate with OPM to at least publish updates on Phillips’ condition. The negotiation was a success and Egianus published videos on Phillips’ condition.

Frits also reported that the Commission has attempted to draft the observation and liberation framework. Fritz met with Pangdam Cendrawasih and the Head of the Papua Regional Police Department on April 14, 2023, to discuss the issue. However, on April 15, 2023, the OPM attack on the National Military Forces accelerated, taking the lives of five military officers. Negotiation was halted after the attack. “We tried to open the communication again at the end of May,” Fritz said.

After two months of radio silence, Egianus finally published another update, claiming that Phillips is currently safe and protected. The update was given after the shooting threat against Phillips last June. 

President Jokowi said that the government continues to attempt negotiations to liberate Phillips. The government has also dispatched several operations to liberate Phillips with no result. “We will continue to negotiate. There are a lot of things to do (in Papua), but I’m unable to disclose it here,” said Jokowi at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport on Monday, July 3, 2023.

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OPM welcomed President Jokowi’s statement. “We welcome President Jokowi’s good faith to communicate with us,” said Sebby Sambom to Tempo on Tuesday, July 14, 2023.


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