Kidnapped pilot a frightening reminder of forgotten war on Australia’s doorstep

Ben Bohane Journalist

February 24, 2023 — 7.00pm 

“Wah Wah Wah!” came the jungle cry as I watched dozens of OPM (Free West Papua) guerrillas stream down mountain ravines towards our village, adorned in cassowary feathers, smeared in pig fat (to stay warm in the mountain air) and armed with bows and arrows.

They descended for an independence flag-raising ceremony and pig feast in Mapenduma village, in the Nduga highlands of West Papua. They had come to hear speeches from their commanders, including Daniel Kogeya and to meet me, the first journalist to ever venture there.

Nearly 30 years ago, I reported for this masthead on their struggle for independence which had many of the characteristics of neighbouring East Timor’s quest, but none of the publicity. Today their situation remains much the same: a long-running guerrilla war, an estimated 200,000 dead since Indonesia’s invasion in 1963, plus tens of thousands of refugees both internally displaced and along the Papua New Guinea border. Forgotten.

West Papua remains the most significant war in our immediate region, yet few hear about it. That’s because Indonesia forbids all foreign media from visiting, or any INGOs from operating there. It continues to target local journalists. In fact, across the entire Asia Pacific region there is only one other place so deliberately cut off from the world – North Korea. The war undermines Indonesian claims of support for democracy and a free press, while also highlighting the hypocrisy of Australia’s claims to support peace and the “Pacific family” in our region.

Australia continues to back Indonesian forces there. Yet for all the new concentration on Australia’s defence, the only war in our actual neighbourhood is never mentioned in “white papers” or “defence reviews”. Why? It’s the only real war in the Pacific that continues at a time everyone is focused on China.

In late 1995, it was Commander Daniel Kogeya and his men who took seven Europeans hostage some weeks after I left them. An Indonesian special forces operation intervened after three months. While the Europeans were rescued, two Indonesian students – who got caught up in the stand-off – were shot and killed. Afterwards, many villagers were murdered in payback by Indonesian forces.

Kogeya was eventually captured, tortured and killed by Indonesian forces. But his movement continues with the OPM Central Command in the mountains above Freeport mine and is responsible for the latest kidnapping of New Zealand pilot Phillip Mehrtens.

The pilot, who has flown for Jetstar and other airlines in Indonesia and Hong Kong, is reportedly unharmed, but there are risks if Indonesian forces attack his OPM captors like they did in 1996. Amid negotiations, the New Zealand government has intervened to stop one Indonesian rescue operation, fearing a violent outcome, perhaps with the 1996 situation in mind. West Papuan leader Benny Wenda has called for his release and blames the situation on Indonesia continuing to block a visit by the UN Human Rights Commissioner for the past three years.

While international attention has focused on the pilot, another “kidnapping” last month went largely unreported: the arrest of West Papua’s Governor Lukas Enembe.

Kidnapping can never be condoned, but context is important. In a region completely cut off from international media and scrutiny, West Papuans have few avenues to publicise their struggle. This is another desperate cry for international intervention since the UN and regional powers have failed them. The UN bears much responsibility since its fraudulent Act of Free Choice in 1969 officially handed West Papua to Indonesia.

More than 50 years later, it appears we can never offend Indonesia even as its military operates with impunity in West Papua. Why are we forging closer defence ties with Indonesia, which maintains strong military and security links with Russia, attacks regional interests and undermines our Pacific “step up”?

Locals believe Indonesia was most likely behind a massive cyberattack on Vanuatu recently which brought down the entire government’s intranet, paralysing its ability to function online for six weeks. This was the most serious cyberattack on any Pacific nation so far and feels like an “Estonia moment” – when that Baltic country became the first nation to come under a sustained cyberattack, by Russia.

For decades Jakarta, Washington and Canberra have been complicit in the greatest injustice found in our immediate region – allowing Indonesia to continue its brutal occupation of West Papua unhindered so as to profit from its considerable resources, mainly by US-owned Freeport which operates the world’s largest gold mine there.

In the end, American corporate interests in West Papua should not be allowed to trump legitimate Australian and Pacific security interests at a time when building a regional Pacific alliance to counter China (and Russia) is the main game. Indonesia seems not to have got the memo and does not appreciate how much criticism Australia gets in Melanesia because of its appeasement of Indonesian aggression. Thus, Pacific nations seek to minimise Indonesian influence while welcoming Chinese engagement.

At a time Australia is pushing its climate change credentials, it seems unconcerned the most significant ecocide going on in our region is the destruction of West Papuan rainforests by oil-palm conglomerates. This is happening in the second-largest wilderness area in the world after the Amazon basin.

Just across the sea from us, 4 million West Papuans remain hostages to war, greed and timid diplomacy. No-one comes out of this long-running tragedy looking good; not Indonesia, not the UN, America, Australia or the paralysed Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), supposed to represent Melanesian interests.

Some see West Papua as “the Ukraine of the Pacific”. So it’s ironic that Australia is helping faraway Ukraine but not the one next door to us whose struggle is equally justified and ultimately more consequential for us.

In West Papua, we remain on the wrong side of history, and humanity.

Ben Bohane is a Vanuatu-based photojournalist and producer who has reported the Pacific since 1994. He is co-founder of the Australian war photography collective DegreeSouth.


Denying OPM links, former Papua Governor Lukas Enembe reaffirms loyalty to Jakarta – February 10, 2023

Yogi Ernes, Jakarta — Non-active Papua governor Lukas Enembe has spoken out about the issue of Free Papua Organisation (OPM) figure Benny Wenda coming to his defense and allegations that money from his alleged corruption has flowed to the OPM.

He denies that any money had flowed into OPM. “There isn’t any”, said Enembe at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) building in Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Friday February 10. He was responding to the issue of the flow of proceeds from his alleged corruption to the OPM.

Enembe says that he does not have any links with the OPM and that he is loyal to Indonesia. “There’s isn’t [any link]. Note what I say, NKRI [the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] is non-negotiable”, explained Enembe.

Enembe also claimed that he is not acquainted with Wenda or the Indonesian pilot Anton Gobay who was recently arrested in the Philippines over the trafficking of firearms.

Enembe again insisted that NKRI is non-negotiable. “There’s no link, I don’t know [Wenda or Gobay]. For me NKRI is non-negotiable”, he said.

Potential flow of funds to OPM

United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) leader Benny Wenda’s defense of Enembe has triggered suspicions. The KPK subsequently said that they are ready to investigate whether or not there has been a flow of funds from Enembe to the OPM.

Wenda’s statement in defense of Enembe was initially conveyed in a posting on his Twitter account. He said that Enembe is in danger and must be released. He also claimed that the corruption case that has ensnared Enembe is fabricated.

“Indonesia must immediately release Governor Lukas Enembe who was arrested on false corruption charges. Governor Enembe is paralysed and needs immediate medical attention. Meanwhile he is being detained by Indonesia, his life is in danger”, tweeted Wenda on Thursday January 12.

The KPK then investigated the potential flow of funds from Enembe to the OPM. The KPK is currently gathering evidence.

“Regarding the flow of funds we are gathering evidence, we are of course following the money. So of course we will then investigate the flow of money, we are also studying if other articles can be applied aside from the articles on bribery and gratification”, said KPK spokesperson Ali Fikri at the KPK building on Friday January 13.

Enembe has been declared a suspect in a bribery and gratification case valued at 11 trillion rupiah. KPK investigators are in the process of tracing Enembe’s assets that may have originated from corruption.

“We assure you the KPK is also investigating the flow of funds in the form of converted assets or where the money flowed, if it was given to another party after allegedly being received by the suspect LE (Lukas Enembe), we assure you this is also being delved into”, said Fikri.


[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Lukas Enembe Bantah Dugaan Aliran Duit ke OPM: NKRI Harga Mati”.]



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Army chief backs Prabowo’s plan to expand Suharto era territorial military command – February 10, 2023

Nirmala Maulana Achmad, Jakarta — Army Chief of Staff (KSAD) General Dudung Abdurachman says that every province in Indonesia will have a regional military command (Kodam) headquarters.

This includes establishing regional military commands in the four new provinces in Papua, namely the provinces of South Papua, Central Papua, Papua Highlands and South-West Papua.

“In line with the order by the Menhan (Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto), and the TNI [Indonesian military] commander (Admiral Yudo

Margono) we agree, later each province will have a Kodam. Later we will propose to the TNI commander, it’s already been proposed. The commander will later propose this to the Kemhan [Department of Defense]”, said Abdurachman following an Army leadership meeting at the Army’s headquarters in Jakarta on Friday February 10.

After being agreed to by the Defense Department and the TNI commander, the next step in the process is to submit the proposal to the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (Kemenpan-RB).

“Of course it will also be discussed with the Finance Minister (Sri Mulyani), because it’s related to the budgetary issues”, said Abdurachman.

It is planned, continued Abdurachman, that the proposal for a Kodam in every province can be agreed to this year.

“This year, it’s just a matter of transfers. For example, at the Lampung Korem [Sub-Regional Military Command] the one-star Danrem [military commander] becomes a Pangdam [regional military commander], later the Danrem becomes a Kasdam [Jakarta Military Command Chief of Staff]”, said Abdurachman.

The TNI currently has 15 Regional Military Commands throughout Indonesia. They are the Kodam I/Bukit Barisan (Medan, North Sumatra), the Kodam II/Sriwijaya (Palembang, South Sumatra), the Kodam III/Siliwangi (Bandung, West Java), the Kodam V/Brawijaya (Surabaya, East Java), the Kodam VI/Mulawarman (Balikpapan, East Kalimantan), the Kodam IX/Udaya (Denpasar, Bali) and the Kodam XII/Tanjungpura (Kubu Raya, Central Kalimantan).

Then there is the Kodam XIII/Merdeka (Manado, Central Sulawesi), the Kodam XIV/Hasanuddin (Makassar, South Sulawesi), the Kodam XVI/Pattimura (Ambon, North Maluku), the Kodam XVII/Cenderawasih (Papua), the Kodam XVIII/Kasuari (West Papua), the Kodam Jayakarta (Keramat Jati, Jakarta) and the Kodam Iskandar Muda (Banda Aceh, Aceh).

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Sepakat dengan Menhan dan Panglima TNI, KSAD Sebut Setiap Provinsi Akan Punya Kodam”.]



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700 residents of Jayapura City evacuated following earthquake: BNPB

News Desk – Earthquake In Jayapura City 

10 February 2023

Yogyakarta, Jubi – At least 700 residents fled to four different locations after a 5.4 magnitude earthquake shook Jayapura City on Thursday, February 9, 2023. This was stated by the Acting Head of the Center for Disaster Data, Information and Communication of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), Abdul Muhari through a written statement on Thursday.

Abdul stated that the BNPB Control and Operations Center (Pusdalops) recorded that 50 families fled to the CV Thomas Complex, Entrop. In addition, there were 50 families who fled to the BTN Bank Office in Jayapura City.

Some 200 residents fled to Christ the King Catholic Church in Dok 5. There were also 400 residents who fled to Bhayangkara I. The residents evacuated because a number of aftershocks occurred in Jayapura City on Thursday afternoon and evening.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 occurred in Jayapura City on Thursday at 3:28 p.m Papua time. The shallow earthquake with an epicenter of 10 kilometers deep and located at coordinates 2.60 South Latitude and 140.66 East Longitude caused four people to die and injured five people.

As of Thursday night, the BNPB’s Pusdalops recorded the damage of at least five houses (three of which heavily damaged and two moderately damaged). In addition, a cafe collapsed and fell into the sea, while the building of Jayapura’s Dok 2 Hospital, two churches, a mosque, and a hotel were damaged.

The earthquake also caused the top part of the Cendrawasih University Postgraduate Building to collapse. The Jayapura Mall building in the city center also suffered cracks on the left side of the building, and the roof of the right side of the 4th floor of the building collapsed.

“As an effort to handle the disaster emergency, the Jayapura City Disaster Management Agency together with the Papua Province BPBD and related agencies have set up emergency tents, provided evacuation sites, public kitchens and basic support for the evacuees. The urgent needs are emergency tents and generators for electricity,” Abdul Muhari said, as quoted from his press statement. (*)


300 patients treated in tents following earthquake in Jayapura City

. 300 patients treated in tents following earthquake in Jayapura City  

News Desk – Earthquake In Jayapura City 

10 February 2023

Jayapura, Jubi – Director of Jayapura’s Dok 2 Regional General Hospital Anton Mote said about 300 inpatients were evacuated from the hospital after a 5.4 magnitude earthquake shook Jayapura City on Thursday, February 9, 2023. They are now being treated in tents set up on the hospital grounds.

“There are six tents that we set up, and all patients are treated in the tents because the hospital rooms were cracked by the earthquake. The patients accommodated in the tents are from the baby care and the intensive care unit. There is also an obstetrics tent and a mixed tent of internal medicine and pediatrics,” Mote told Jubi on Thursday.

Mote said there were four people from Jayapura City who died in Thursday’s earthquake. They were taken to Dok 2 Hospital but could not be saved.

“There were no fatalities among the hospital’s patients. The victims were from outside,” he said.

Mote said that on Thursday afternoon he had contacted the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to check the condition of Dok 2’s treatment room. The establishment of tents in the yard of Dok 2 Hospital followed the recommendation of BMKG Region V Jayapura.

“The BMKG suggested that several rooms not be used due to cracks caused by the earthquake, therefore we evacuated 300 patients to six tents,” he said.

Mote said the BMKG Region V Jayapura also did not recommend the use of the Emergency Room (IGD) at the hospital. The hospital will soon build tents to provide emergency services.

Mote said he received tent assistance from BPBD Papua Province and the Ministry of Social Affairs. “We are still coordinating with them, if we need tents, we will contact them again. For now, it is sufficient,” he said.

According to him, a number of services at Dok 2 Hospital were disrupted because the earthquake damaged a number of medical facilities and equipment. “Radiology and laboratory examinations are inside the buildings that collapsed due to the earthquake, so the equipment is not functioning. We will do another mapping,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mote emphasized that Dok 2 Hospital would remain open and accept patients. “We will always be ready to accommodate people who come to Dok 2 Hospital seeking health services,” he said. (*)


Separatist Group in Papua Reveals Reason Behind Pilot Hostage Situation

Translator Ricky Mohammad Nugraha Editor Laila Afifa 1

0 February 2023 12:57 WIB

TEMPO.COJakarta – A spokesperson for one of Indonesia’s most notorious separatist groups known as the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) Free Papua Movement (OPM), Sebby Sambom, in a written statement on February 7, explained the reason behind the recent hostage situation. He wrote the reason they took hostage of New Zealander Philips Max Marthen – who piloted a Susi Air plane that was arson by the separatists – is because of foreign countries’ contribution to supporting the Indonesian military. 

Sambom claimed countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and European nations must be held responsible for providing arms and training the Indonesian army (TNI) and Police in fighting Papuans. 

“Due to this reason, the pilot will be the collateral for the UN, Europe, America, and Australia to talk. Because they sent war equipment to Indonesia and trained them to murder us for 60 years. This is why one pilot has been taken hostage,” said Sambom in a voice recording on February 7.


Representatives of the United States in a reply to Tempo’s email regarding Sambom’s demand did not mention weapons and training sessions. The US Embassy did not answer whether they are in communication with the New Zealand pilot. Emails were sent to representatives of the UN, Australia, and European Union in Jakarta but have yet responded to. 

Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) Commander Yudo Margono on Tuesday said the joint law enforcement team mobilized in Papua has detected the location of the missing Susi Air pilot. He was reportedly taken hostage by local Papuan separatists – identified by Indonesian law enforcement as an armed criminal group (KKB) – at the Paro District in Nduga Regency, Papua, on February 7. 

The pilot who operated the Susi Air plane – which was burned by separatists at the airport runway – was Philips Max Marthin. Prior to that incident, the plane lost contact on Tuesday morning. 

“Not yet [being evacuated] but [they] have been detected. After we managed to evacuate 15 [local community health center workers], now the priority is to look for the pilot,” said Yudo Margono to journalists on Wednesday, February 8.

However, he rebutted that the Kiwi pilot had not been taken hostage by separatists but had escaped capture after the plane was burned by the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

“The pilot was threatened but eventually was likely rescued by a local resident,” he explained. 

The hostage situation was assumed after the separatist group led by Egianus Kogoya claimed responsibility for the incident with the plane and the hostage situation. 

Moreover, the separatist leader also demanded that the construction that had been carried out by the Indonesian government on Ndugama land be completely stopped. If development activities are still found, said Sebby, they will threaten to wipe out all existing developments.

“Jakarta cannot play games with us. We are ready personally, physically, mentally, and geographically, we are ready. TPNPB will take over our land again through a total revolution. Jokowi still wants to ‘play’ with us,“ said the Papuan separatist in the audio recording on February 7.


Human rights researcher pleads for release of NZ pilot

2:41 pm today Share this

Finau Fonua, RNZ Pacific Journalist

Lydia Lewis, RNZ Pacific Journalist

Highlands-based Defense Region Command of the West Papua National Liberation Army, or TPNPB.

Highlands-based Defense Region Command of the West Papua National Liberation Army, or TPNPB. Photo: TPNPB

A researcher at Human Rights Watch in Jakarta is calling for the immediate release of the hostages including a New Zealand pilot being held by a rebel group in Indonesia’s Papua region.

The rebels in Highland Papua are threatening to execute Susi Air pilot Phillip Mehrtens if their demands are not met.

Five other people were also believed to have been taken hostage in the attack.

The West Papua National Liberation Army has posted an ultimatum on social media demanding Jakarta negotiate with them over independence for the region.

“Pilot is still alive and he will be held hostage for negotiations with Jakarta, if Jakarta is obstinate, then the pilot will be executed,” the statement read.

“We will take the New Zealand citizen pilot as hostage and we are waiting for accountability from the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government, the European Union Governments, and the United Nations, because for 60 years these countries have supported Indonesia to kill Indigenous Papuans.”

Researcher Andreas Harsono knows the main spokesperson of the rebel group Sebby Sambom after decades of research in the field.

He made a call to him personally to let the hostages go.

“I call on this group to immediately release all of the hostages including the pilot – it is a crime to kidnap anyone including this pilot,” he told RNZ Pacific.

“I do not know how to measure the seriousness of such a threat but this is a hostage situation, things could be out of control. So the best way is to negotiate and ask them to release the pilot.”

Andreas Harsono

Andreas Harsono Photo: Human Rights Watch

Harsono noted the difficulties in New Zealand attempting to negotiate with the group, particularly given their demands.

“I don’t think it is easy or even internationally accepted to pressure the New Zealand government to negotiate for West Papuan independence from Indonesia.

“It is way too complicated for any country in the world including New Zealand to negotiate the independence of this particular territory but of course the Papuan people have suffered a lot and the Indonesian government should do more to end impunity and human rights abuses in West Papua.

“But this is a hostage situation. The most important thing is to call on this group to immediately and unconditionally release all of the hostages including the New Zealand pilot.”

Harsono said he does not know whether the passengers have been taken hostage, nor does he know if they are indigenous Papuans.

“The area is very remote, only certain people go there, mainly construction workers, and there were killings against Indonesian workers back in 2018,” he said.

Listen to interview with Andreas Harsono on Pacific Waves

Police encounter difficulties looking for pilot

Indonesian authorities say it’s facing difficulties locating Merhtens because of the lack of telecommunications facilities in Paro District and the absence of any Indonesian Military or police post in the area.

Jubi TV quotes Papua Police spokesperson Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo saying his party continued to track the whereabouts of Mehrtens and are preparing to go to Paro District.

He said that before the burning of the plane, rumours had been circulating that a rebel group had threatened 15 construction workers who were building a health centre in the district.

“The New Zealand embassy in Indonesia is working on the case,” New Zealand’s prime minister, Chris Hipkins, told Radio New Zealand.


“Accepting Indonesia into MSG was a mistake”, says Mr. Natuman

Mr. Natuman says allowing Indonesia into MSG was a mistake

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Former Vanuatu Prime Minister (PM) Joe Natuman says allowing Indonesia (by former Prime Minister Mr. Sato Kilman) into the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) was a mistake.

“We (Melanesians) have a moral obligation to support West Papua’s struggle in line with our forefathers’ call including first former Prime Minister, Father Walter Lini, Chief Bongmatur, and others,” he said.

“Vanuatu has cut its canoe over 40 years ago and successfully sailed into the Ocean of Independence and in the same spirit, we must help our brothers and sisters in the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), to cut their canoe, raise the sail and also help them sail into the same future for the Promised Land.”

The former PM graced the West Papua Lobby Team on its appointment with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jotham Napat, this week when he agreed to an interview to confirm his support for the West Papua Struggle as above and admitted the mistake.

During their discussions with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Natuman thanked the Minister and Minister for Climate Change Mr. Ralph Regenvanu and Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau, for their united stand for ULMWP to achieve full membership into the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

“When we created MSG, it was a political organisation before economic and other interests were added,” he said.

“After our Independence on July 30 of 1980, heads of different political parties in New Caledonia started visiting Port Vila to learn how to stand up strong to challenge France for their freedom.

“I joined the Team this week because I was involved under then Prime Minister Father Walter Lini, we advised the Political Leaders of New Caledonia at the time to form one political umbrella organisation to argue their case, and they formed FLNKS.

“We created ULMWP in 2014 here in Port Vila, to become your political umbrella organisation. After the child that we helped to create, we must continue to work with it to develop it towards its destiny.”

Like the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Natuman challenged both the Government and the Lobby Team to continue to lobby for ULMWP victory when all MSG Leaders unanimously vote West Papua in as the latest full member of MSG.

“But now that Indonesia is inside, it is not interested in the ULMWP issue but its own interests. So we must be careful here. We have passed resolutions regarding Human Rights and the United Nations have agreed for the UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit West Papua to report on the situation on the ground and Jakarta has blocked the visit,” he said.

Mr. Natuman challenged the Government whether or not to allow Indonesia to continue to behave towards MSG by ignoring the ULMWP demands.

Meanwhile, then Prime Minister Kilman had the same reasoning for allowing Indonesia into the MSG believing that the occupier would sit on the same table to be allowed to discuss the West Papua dilemma. However, it did not work out.

In the latest development, Mr. Natuman thinks new Fiji PM Sitiveni Rabuka is not going to govern in the same manner as former PM Bainimarama, now that he has already ordered the revival of Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs which his predecessor had revoked.

“I also think PM Manasseh Sogavare (of the Solomons) still stands in support of ULMWP. I think the Foreign Affairs Minister of Papua New Guinea has to talk to PM James Marape,” he added.

In his opinion, based on the Mr. Napat’s briefing to the Lobby Team this week, the MSG Secretariat suddenly seems to follow every line to the book regarding the ULMWP Application for full membership of MSG.

“There is no need for the Committee of Officials to control the processes towards a positive outcome to the ULMWP Application. I suggest that you recommend to the PM to revisit the processes,” Mr. Natuman suggested.

“At the Leaders’ Summit, it is the (MSG) Leaders who decide what to talk about in their Meeting and do not allow ‘smol-smol man’ to dictate to you what or how you should talk about in your meeting.”

In addition, he said he was a member of an Eminent Group made up of Ambassador Kaliopate Tavola of Fiji, Roch Wamytan of FLNKS of News Caledonia and Solomons’ Prime Minister Sogavare who produced an MSG Report.

“In the Report we suggested that it was good that Indonesia came in and I personally recommended a Melanesian Nakamal Concept which in Polynesia and Fiji, it is called Talanoa (Process),” Mr. Natuman continued.

“This would allow Indonesia to sit down within a Melanesian umbrella to discuss their issues. Such a session should be chaired by an independent person such as a church leader or chief.

“The Report is there and it should allow Indonesia to talk about their human right issues. Indonesia could use the avenue to hear ULMWP’s view on their proposed Autonomy in West Papua.”

Indonesia could also bring in their other supporters to place their issues on the table for discussion.

Foreign Affairs Minister Napat recommended his “top to the bottom” approach instead of from a bottom up approach, allowing the ‘smol-smol man’ to dictate to the leaders how to make their decisions.

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Despite billions to get off coal, why is Indonesia still building new coal plants?

February 5, 20237:01 AM ET

Julia Simon

World leaders recently announced a $20 billion climate deal to help get Indonesia off coal power. But there are doubts about the deal because — for one thing — the country is planning to build new coal plants, including here in Kalimantan.

Adek Berry/AFP via Getty Images

Not far from the white sand beaches on the island of Borneo, the Indonesian government is building what it calls a “green industrial park.” In the ground-breaking ceremony, Indonesia’s president said this area of more than 40,000 acres would become a hub for green manufacturing using the country’s vast mineral reserves.

Indonesian officials are pursuing deals with Chinese battery manufacturer CATL as well as Elon Musk and Tesla to make EV batteries there. The idea is that this “green” park will eventually run on solar power and hydropower from a nearby river.

But building the hydropower infrastructure could take several years. In the meantime, Indonesia plans to build new coal-fired plants to power its “green” park, says Rachmat Kaimuddin, Deputy Minister of Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment.

Running green tech factories on brand new coal plants captures the often contradictory push-and-pull of Indonesia’s approach to climate change. Now these inconsistencies are raising questions as Indonesia emerges as an ambitious test case of a developing nation getting billions from industrialized countries to get off fossil fuels.

Sponsor Message

In November 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and other world leaders announced an initial $20 billion deal to help Indonesia get off coal power. About 60% of the country’s electricity comes from coal. Reining in global warming requires cutting fossil fuel use, especially coal, the single largest energy source of planet-heating carbon dioxide.

The deal would rely on loans, grants and other financial tools from countries like the U.S. and Japan, as well as banks like Citigroup and Bank of America, to help Indonesia retire coal plants early and increase renewable energy. Some analysts hope it could be a model to get other developing countries off coal-fired electricity.

But Indonesian energy experts and solar executives worry much of this deal may be “omong kosong” — empty talk. They say despite Indonesia’s renewable aspirations, the country has many coal-friendly policies which this deal might not address, including an exemption to build more coal plants.

The credibility issues of this deal could cast doubt on future international efforts to get other countries off coal, says Anissa Suharsono, a Jakarta-based energy analyst at the think tank the International Institute for Sustainable Development. “If the government cares about international image, then they better make sure this one doesn’t fall apart,” she says.

Indonesia gets less than 1% of its energy from solar — about 60% from coal. The deal has a target to double the country’s renewables by 2030, but many solar executives aren’t optimistic, because of coal subsidies and a potential loophole to build more coal plants.

Aditya Irawan/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A potential loophole to “no new coal”

Emerging economies continue to use coal to fuel their development. But industrialized countries hope an influx of funding could speed up the transition to renewables. World leaders already invested in a similar “Just Energy Transition Partnership” in South Africa. The goal is not just to do deals one country at a time, but make a template for wider adoption across the world, says Camilla Fenning of the climate and energy research group E3G.

Sponsor Message

Indonesia, the world’s largest exporter of coal for electricity, has more coal power than it can use. Indonesia made bad projections about rising power demand over the last decade, and built too many coal plants on islands like Java, Kaimuddin says. “And you can’t just say, ‘Sorry, we don’t want to do it anymore.'”

The $20 billion deal could enable Indonesia to retire those coal plants early without as much economic pain, says Kaimuddin, whose ministry is leading negotiations. “Instead of operating for X amount of years, we reduce it by 5 years, by 10 years,” he says.

But there are questions about how fast Indonesia’s transition off coal will be, in part because of a potential loophole to allow the country to build even more coal plants. “You’re paying this country to shut down some coal power plants while [it’s] also still building new ones? That just, it just doesn’t make sense,” Suharsono says.

“You’re paying this country to shut down some coal power plants while [it’s] also still building new ones? That just, it just doesn’t make sense.”

Anissa Suharsono

Not long before Indonesia signed the deal, Indonesia’s president made a commitment to stop developing new coal plants. But the new regulation includes an exemption to build coal plants if they are already in the pipeline or attached to nationally strategic projects like the green park in Indonesian Borneo. “They keep saying ‘no new coal, no new coal, no new coal,'” Suharsono says. “It’s like they put that clause there to give a loophole.”

As the country plans new industrial parks to take advantage of its huge nickel reserves, a key component for batteries and EVs, the exemption for new coal plants should raise alarm bells, says Flora Champenois, coal research analyst at Global Energy Monitor, a climate data organization. “The nickel industry is booming in Indonesia,” she says. “That can’t be powered by coal to meet climate goals.”

Kaimuddin’s office notes that new coal plants linked to strategic projects must shut down by 2050 and reduce emissions by 35% within 10 years through technology or carbon offsets. Experts say there is no good way to know if carbon offsets really work. And the International Energy Agency recently reaffirmed that to keep warming less than 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst effects of climate change, there must be “no new development of unabated coal-fired power plants.”

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John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, said in an emailed statement, “Indonesia made these commitments not only to combat the climate crisis, but also to transform and grow their economy, ​​and the Just Energy Transition Partnership is squarely focused on supporting Indonesia’s aspirations.”

Indonesia’s political elite have links to coal, say analysts

Overshadowing Indonesia’s energy transition are links between the country’s political establishment and the coal industry, says Putra Adhiguna, analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a nonprofit think tank.

The green park that plans to build new coal plants is a project of coal billionaire Garibaldi Thohir, whose brother, Erick Thohir, is Minister of State Owned Enterprises. And the official running the deal to get off coal, Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, has coal assets himself. Indonesians worry there might be political conflicts of interest over which coal plants get shut down, which still get to operate, and which new ones get built, Adhiguna says.

Luhut Pandjaitan’s office says in an email that “transparency and accountability continue to be critical components of Indonesia’s decarbonization efforts.” His deputy minister, Kaimuddin, adds: “Pak Luhut is my direct supervisor, and I can say so far he’s been very, very supportive of this decarbonization and never once he mentioned, like, you know, ‘What about my asset?’ or whatever.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen meets with Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, in September 2022. Pandjaitan is running the deal to get Indonesia off coal. He also has coal assets himself.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Indonesia’s solar industry worries the nation won’t reach its targets

The new deal to get off coal includes an ambitious target: at least 34% of Indonesia’s power coming from renewable sources by 2030. Now only about 12% of the grid comes from renewables, mostly hydropower and geothermal. Less than 1% of Indonesia’s power comes from solar. The idea is that some part of the $20 billion could help build Indonesia’s renewable sector.

But NPR spoke to half a dozen Indonesian renewable energy executives and investors who worry that the country won’t actually reduce the roadblocks that have in recent years kept more solar and wind from coming online.

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“A lot of things that are appearing on the news and to the public can be quite different from what is being actually implemented,” says Josh Ching, CEO of Solardex, an Indonesian solar company. While the Indonesian government says it wants to promote renewables, Ching says it also creates obstacles towards them being profitable.

For example, the country has a price cap that keeps coal prices artificially low, says Fabby Tumiwa, executive director of the think tank the Institute for Essential Services Reform and chairman of the Indonesia Solar Energy Association. That makes things challenging for renewable energy producers who — in much of the country — have to sell power lower than the average price for electricity. “It makes renewables actually very, very difficult,” Tumiwa says. “They cannot compete in the situation where coal is actually subsidized.”

A statement from world leaders says Indonesia will phase down domestic coal subsidies. But Adhiguna says it’s unclear what that means, especially as the country continues to find new ways to invest in domestic coal. Last year Indonesia and a Pennsylvania-based company began constructing a $2.3 billion facility to turn coal into gas for cooking, which, in addition to having high emissions, is expensive and requires subsidies, Tumiwa says.

“It’s really important to keep an eye on phasing down coal power in the traditional sense, but also in the sort of emerging technology sense,” Champenois says, “There’s sort of no such thing as clean coal.”

International banks still fund new Indonesian coal plants

As Indonesia and its international partners wrap up the first stage of the deal, Adhiguna says the government needs to start disclosing more details to the public, like the criteria around which coal plants get retired and which new ones get built.

Ultimately Suharsono says the strongest message from the international community to help move Indonesia off coal would be for international banks to commit to not financing any of the country’s new coal developments. “If you wanna send a message, you want us to get off coal, stop funding us.”

Yamin Kogoya: The fate of Papua’s governor Enembe – where is he now?

By APR editor –  


On Friday 10 February 2023, it will be one month since the Papua Governor Lukas Enembe was “kidnapped” at a local restaurant during his lunch hour by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and security forces.

The crisis began in September 2022, when Governor Enembe was named a suspect by the KPK and summoned by Indonesia’s Mobile Brigade Corps, known as BRIMOB, after being accused of receiving bribes worth one million rupiah (NZ$112,000).

Since the governor’s kidnapping, Indonesian media have been flooded with images and videos of his arrest, his deportation, being handcuffed in Jakarta while in an orange KPK (prisoner) uniform, and his admission to a heavily armed military hospital.

Besides the public display of power, imagery, morality and criminality with politically loaded messages, the governor, his family, and his lawyers are still enmeshed in Jakarta’s health and legal system, while his health continues to steadily deteriorate.

His first KPK investigation on January 12 failed because of his declining health, among other factors such as insufficient or no concrete evidence to be found to date.

During the first examination, the governor’s attorney, Petrus Bala Pattyona, stated his client was asked eight questions by the KPK investigators. However, all eight questions,  Petrus stressed, had no substance to relevant matters involved — the alegations against the governor.

None of the questions from the KPK were included in the investigation material, according to the attorney. Enembe’s health condition was the first question asked by the investigator, Petrus told Kompas TV.

“First, he was asked if Mr Lukas was in good enough health to be examined? His answer was that he was unwell and that he had had a stroke,” Petrus said.

But the examination continued, and he was asked about the history of his education, work, and family. According to the governor’s attorney, during the lengthy examination no questions were asked about the examination material.

To date, authorities in Jakarta continue to question the governor and others suspected of involvement in the alleged corruption case, including his wife and son.

Meanwhile, the governor’s health crisis is causing a massive rift between the governor’s side, civil society groups and government authority.

Fresh update
“The governor of Papua is critically ill today but earlier the KPK still forced an examination and wanted to take him to the Gatot Subroto Hospital, owned by the Indonesian Army; the governor refused and requested treatment in Singapore instead” said the governor’s family last Thursday (February 2), after trying to report the mistreatment case to the country’s Human Rights Commission, who have been dispersed by the Indonesian military and police.

It appears, they continued, that the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) and Gatot Subroto Hospital did not transparently disclose the real results of the Papua governor’s medical examination.

Instead, they hid and kept the governor’s illness quiet. As a result, Lukas Enembe was forced to undergo an investigation by the KPK.

Angered by this treatment, the governor’s team said, “only those who are unconscious and dead to humanity can insist that the governor is well.”

They said that IDI, Gatot Subroto Hospital and KPK had “played with the pain and the life” of Papua’s Governor Lukas Enembe.

“Still, the condition hurts. The governor complained that in KPK custody, there was no appropriate bedding for sick people. Earlier today, the governor’s family complained about the situation to the country’s human rights commission, but they refused to accept it.

“That’s where the governor is, and that’s where we are now. They even call for security forces to be deployed at the human rights office as if we were committing crimes there,” the governor’s family stated.

“Save Lukas Enembe and save Papua. Papuans must wake up and not be caught off guard. They keep the governor in KPK’s facilities even though he is very ill,” the statement continued.

Grave concerns
In his statement, Gabriel Goa, board chair at the Indonesian Law and Human Rights Institute, criticised the Human Rights Commission. He said he questioned the integrity of the chair of the National Human Rights Commission, Atnike Nova Sigiro, for not independently investigating the violations of the rights of the governor by the KPK.

Goa stated that he had “never seen anything like this” in his 20 years of handling cases related to violations of human rights.

This was the first he had seen the office of Human Rights Commission involving security forces attending victims seeking help. The kind of treatment that is being perpetrated against Indigenous Papuans is indeed of a particular nature.

Goa warned: “If this is ignored, and something bad happens to Governor Lukas Enembe, the Human Rights Commission and KPK Indonesia will be held responsible, since victims, their families, and their legal companions have made efforts as stipulated by law.”

Despite these grave concerns for the Governor’s health and rights violations, the deputy chair of the KPK, Alexander Marwata, stated: “Governor Enembe is well enough to undergo the KPK’s investigation and doesn’t need to go to Singapore.

“The Indonesian authority says Gatot Subroto Hospital and IDI can handle his health needs, institutions the governor and his family refused to use because of the psychological trauma of the whole situation.”

‘Inhumane’ treatment of Enembe condemned
In response to Jakarta’s mistreatment of Governor Enembe, Papua New Guinea’s Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah condemned Jakarta’s “cruel behaviour”.

Namah, whose electorate borders Papua province, said it was very difficult to ignore this issue because of Namah’s people’s traditional and family ties that extend beyond Vanimo into West Papua.

According to the PNG Post-Courier, he urged the United Nations to investigate the issue, particularly the manner in which Governor Enembe was being treated by the Indonesian government.

The way PNG’s Namah asked to be investigated is the way in which Jakarta treats the leaders of West Papua — cunning deceptions that undermine their efforts to deliver their own legal and moral goods and services for Papuans.

This manner of conduct was criticised even last September when the drama began.

Responding to the way KPK conducted itself, Dr Roy Rening, a member of the governor’s legal team, stated the governor’s designation as a suspect had been prematurely determined.

This was due to the lack of two crucial pieces of evidence necessary to establish the legitimacy of the charge within the existing framework of Indonesia’s legal procedural code.

Dr Rening also argued that the KPK’s behaviour in executing their warrant, turned on a dime. The governor was unaware that he was a suspect, and that he was already under investigation by the KPK when he was summoned to appear.

In his letter, Dr Rening explained that Governor Enembe had never been invited to clarify and/or appear as a witness pursuant to the Criminal Procedure Code. The KPK instead declared the governor as a suspect based on the warrant letters, which had also changed dates and intent.

Jakarta’s deceptive strategies targeting Papuan leaders
There appears to be a consistent pattern of Indonesia’s behaviour behind the scenes as well — setting traps and plotting that ultimately led to the kidnapping of the governor, the same manner as when West Papua’s sovereignty was kidnapped 61 years ago by using and manipulating the UN mechanism on decolonisation.

As thousands of Papuans guarded the governor’s residence, Jakarta employed two cunning ruses to kidnap the governor, the humanist approach and what the Jakarta elites now proudly refer to as “nasi bungkus” (“pack of rice strategy”).

A visit by Firli Bahuri, chair of KPK, to the governor in Koya Jayapura, Papua, on 3 November 2022, was perceived as being “humane”, but it was a false approach intended to gain trust, thereby weakening the Papuan support for their final attack on the governor.

Recently leaked information from the governor’s side alleged that the chair had advised the Governor to put his health first, allowing him to travel to Singapore for routine medical check-ups as he had in the past.

KPK, however, stated that it had never said such things to Governor Enembe during that meeting.

With hindsight, what seemed to have resulted from the KPK chief’s visit to the Governor’s house had “loosened” the governor’s defence.

This then, processed by Indonesian intelligence began keeping a daily count of the number of Papuan civilians guarding the governor’s house by calculating the number of “nasi bungkus”purchased to feed the hungry guardians of the Governor.

Moreover, critics say information was fabricated regarding an alleged plan for the ill Governor to flee overseas through his highland village in Mamit a few days prior to the kidnapping which would justify this act.

Kidnapping, sending into exile, imprisoning, and psychologically torturing of Papuan leaders within the Indonesia’s legal system may be part of Indonesia’s overall strategy in maintaining its control over West Papua as its frontier settler colony.

In order to achieve Jakarta’s objectives, eliminating the power and hope emerging from West Papuan leaders appears to have been the key strategy.

Victor Yeimo’s fate in Indonesia
Victory Yeimo, a Papuan independence figure facing similar health problems, has also been placed under the Indonesian judiciary with no clear outcome to date.

He faces charges of treason and incitement for his alleged role in anti-racial protests that turned into riots in 2019, following the attack on Papuan students in Surabaya by Indonesian militia.

Yeimo provided a key insight into how this colonial justice system operated in a short video that recently appeared on Twitter. He explained:


Tragically, choices and decisions of existence for Papuan leaders like Governor Enembe and Victor Yeimo are made by a shadowy figure, camouflaged in a human costume, incapable of feeling the pain of another.Yamin Kogoya is a West Papuan academic/activist who has a Master of Applied Anthropology and Partic

Kiwi pilot taken hostage by Papuan separatists in Indonesia flew dangerous routes to support family

02:33, Feb 08 2023

A New Zealand pilot has been taken hostage by separatist fighters in Papua province, who say they will not release him “unless Indonesia recognises and frees Papua from Indonesian colonialism”.

Papuan police said soldiers and officers were searching for pilot Philips Max Marthin after independence fighters stormed the plane when it landed at a remote airport in Paro, in the mountainous district of Nduga.

Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the separatists, said independence fighters from the West Papua Liberation Army, the military wing of the Free Papua Organization, attacked and set fire to the small aircraft as part of their struggle for independence. He demanded that all flights to Nduga be halted.

“We have taken the pilot hostage and we are bringing him out,” Sambom said in a statement. “We will never release the pilot we are holding hostage unless Indonesia recognises and frees Papua from Indonesian colonialism.”

Sambom said Marthin was alive, but did not reveal his location. Five passengers who were on board, including a young child, were released because they were indigenous Papuans.

The pilot was being held because New Zealand, along with Australia and the United States, cooperate militarily with Indonesia, Sambom said.

“New Zealand, Australia and America must be held accountable for what they have done, helping the Indonesian military to kill and wage genocide against indigenous Papuans in the past 60 years,” Sambom said.

The plane, operated by Indonesian aviation company Susi Air, was carrying about 450km of supplies from an airport in Timika, a mining town in neighbouring Mimika district.

Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the impoverished Papua region, a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.

Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a UN-sponsored ballot that was widely seen as a sham. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered in the mineral-rich region, which is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua.

Conflict in the region has spiked in the past year, with dozens of rebels, security forces and civilians killed.

Last July, gunmen believed to be separatist rebels killed 10 traders who came from other Indonesian islands and an indigenous Papuan. Sambom later claimed responsibility for the killing, accusing the victims of being spies for the Indonesian government.

Last March, rebel gunmen killed eight technicians repairing a remote telecommunications tower. In December 2018, at least 31 construction workers and a soldier were killed in one of the worst attacks in the province.

Flying is the only practical way of accessing many areas in the mountainous and jungle-clad easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua.


2) Rebels take New Zealand pilot hostage in Indonesia’s Papua province

Victor Mambor and Dandy Koswaraputra


 Jayapura, Indonesia, and Jakarta

Rebels burned a small commercial plane at an airport in Papua and took its New Zealand pilot hostage on Tuesday, in the latest attack by armed separatists targeting civil aviation in the Indonesian province.

However, the fate of five Papuan passengers on the Susi Air flight was not immediately known after the plane was set on fire on the tarmac in Nduga regency.

A statement issued by the rebels made no mention of them, but a lawyer for the airline said that five passengers were on board. A spokesman for the insurgent group meanwhile told BenarNews that only non-Papuans would have been taken hostage.

In its statement, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) said it planned to hold the pilot, identified by local media as New Zealander Philip Merthens, 37, hostage.

“We TPNPB … will not release the pilot unless Indonesia sets us free from its colonization,” Egianus Kogoya, the local commander of the Liberation Army, said in the statement.

In a similar incident in 2021, Papuan rebels held hostage another Susi Air pilot from New Zealand, and his passengers, but later released them unharmed. Also that year, Papuan rebels set fire to an airplane operated by an American-Christian humanitarian organization and shot a helicopter contracted by a U.S.-Indonesian mining company during separate attacks in the region at the far-eastern end of Indonesia.

The statement from the TPBPB about the latest incident went on to say that rebels had burned a Susi Air plane at Paro district airport in Nduga regency. The statement also demanded that all flights to Nduga be stopped.

Asked about the fate of the five Papuan passengers, Kogoya told BenarNews: “They are all indigenous Papuans. If they had been non-Papuans, we would have held them.”

Susi Air owner Susi Pudjiastuti, a former cabinet minister, urged the captors to not harm the passengers and pilot.

“Please pray and give support. With all humility and for the sake of humanity, we appeal for the safety of the pilot and passengers,” Susi wrote on Twitter. 

Authorities in the provincial capital, Jayapura, said they were sending a team to investigate claims that the pilot was held hostage.

“We are still investigating the veracity of this information. A lack of access to communication means that many rumors have surfaced,” said Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo, Papua police spokesman.

“It is possible that the pilot and passengers are being sheltered by the local community because the plane was set on fire and there was no means of transportation to Timika,” he said.

A lawyer for Susi Air, Donald Faris, confirmed that the plane was set ablaze by a rebel group, but said the company had not been contacted by anyone claiming responsibility for the attack. 

“We are still waiting for the competent authorities … to take practical steps to be able to resolve this matter,” Donald told BenarNews.

Meanwhile, Benny also said police were investigating reports that rebels have been holding 15 workers who were building a community health clinic in Nduga province since Saturday.

History of violence

Violence and tensions in Papua, a region that makes up the western half of New Guinea island, have intensified in recent years.

In July 2022, rebels killed 10 civilians, mostly traders from other parts of Indonesia, accusing them of being spies for government security forces.

It was the deadliest attack by insurgents in the region since 2018 when insurgents attacked workers who were building roads and bridges in Nduga, killing 20 people, including an Indonesian soldier. At the time, the TPNPB said those killed were not civilian workers, but soldiers from the army’s engineering detachment.

The attack prompted the government to send more troops to Papua.

The region has a history of human rights violations by Indonesian security forces and police. Papuan separatist rebels also have been accused of attacking civilians.

In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded Papua, a former Dutch colony like Indonesia, and annexed it.

In 1969, the United Nations sponsored a referendum where only about 1,000 people voted. Despite accusations that the vote was a farce, the U.N. recognized the outcome, effectively endorsing Indonesia’s control over Papua.

Nazarudin Latif in Jakarta contributed to this report.


3) New Zealand pilot taken hostage in Indonesia

27 minutes ago  

Separatist fighters in Indonesia’s Papua region have taken a New Zealand pilot hostage after setting a small commercial plane alight when it landed in a remote highland area on Tuesday, a pro-independence group says in a statement.

A police spokesperson in Papua province, Ignatius Benny Adi Prabowo, said authorities were investigating the incident, with police and military personnel sent to the area to locate the pilot and five passengers, Reuters is reporting.

“We cannot send many personnel there because Nduga is a difficult area to reach. We can only go there by plane,” he said.

A military spokesperson in Papua, Herman Taryaman, said the pilot had been identified as Captain Philip Merthens and it was unclear if the five accompanying passengers had also been abducted.

The plane operated by Susi Air landed safely early on Tuesday morning, before being attacked by rebel fighters, authorities said.

The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement seen by Reuters, saying the pilot would not be released until the Indonesian government acknowledged the independence of West Papua – which refers to the western side of New Guinea island.

The TPNPB made no mention of the passengers, but said this was the second time the group had taken a hostage. The first incident was in 1996.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins told Morning Report he had not had a full briefing yet, but the New Zealand Embassy was working on the case.

“New Zealand diplomatic officials are aware of it. They haven’t yet fully briefed me on what they know and what they are doing, but I’m aware they are working on the case.”

It was standard practice to give hostage situations minimal publicity, he said.

The New Zealand embassy in Jakarta and the Indonesian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Indonesia’s easternmost provinces have been wracked with a low-level battle for independence since the resource-rich region was controversially brought under Indonesian control in a vote overseen by the United Nations in 1969.

The conflict has escalated significantly since 2018, with pro-independence fighters mounting deadlier and more frequent attacks.

The increased intensity of these attacks have been enabled by an improved ability to obtain more weapons, including by raiding and stealing from army posts, cross-border purchases and the illegal sale of government-issued weapons, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said in a report last year.

Susi Air founder and former fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti said on Twitter she was praying for the safety of the pilot and passengers.

RNZ has approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in New Zealand for comment.

– Reuters