The New Zealand pilot kidnapped more than a month ago in the province of Papua, in the Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea, assured in a video released this Friday by his kidnappers that "I will be released once Papua is independent." "
I have been ordered to make a statement. Foreign pilots are not allowed to work and fly in Papua until it is independent. The UN is urged to mediate between Papua and Indonesia for their independence. They will release me when Papua is independent," the pilot, Philip Mark Mehrtens, says in the video.
The same, in which Mehrtens can be seen looking calm and surrounded by dozens of rebels, some armed, was sent to various media, including EFE, by Sebby Sambon, spokesman for the Free Papua Movement, which represents various separatist militias. , including the one that claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).
The New Zealander states in the video that "they take care of me as well as can be expected in a situation like this", and that he has been provided with warm clothing, food and water, as well as medicines to be able to tolerate "the long walks we do daily". Touched, he asks his family to try "not to worry about me," and urges them to be "patient and strong. I hope we can be together soon," he adds.
The pilot has been in captivity since February 7, when he landed with a plane from the local company Susi Air with five passengers - who were released - at a remote airport in the Nduga district, in the Papua province of the Highlands. . This province is located in the Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea, while the eastern part of the island belongs to Papua New Guinea.
The Free Papua Movement demanded at the start of the kidnapping various demands for release, including that New Zealand take the conflict to the UN Security Council; that the International Criminal Court initiate an investigation into the "abuses" of Indonesia in West Papua, and that Indonesia recognize the independence of this territory.
The separatists, considered criminals by Indonesia, have indicated that it is the first kidnapping after an incident in 1996, when they abducted 26 members of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), including four British and two Dutch, in the same area.
Rich in natural resources and divided into six provinces, "Indonesian Papua" -referred to by separatists as "West Papua"- has been the scene of a low-intensity armed conflict between the central Indonesian state and secessionist movements since the region came under control of Jakarta in 1969.
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