Kidnapped pilot Philip Mehrtens is seen in chilling new hostage video
A New Zealand pilot who was taken hostage by rebels within the forests of West Papua has despatched a heartbreaking message to his spouse and daughter – one yr after he was taken captive.
Philip Mark Mehrtens, a 38-year-old former Jetstar pilot, seems gaunt and pale in a chilling new hostage video.
Sporting a scraggly beard, the dishevelled pilot says: ‘It’s me,’ with a nervous chuckle, earlier than including a number of extra phrases of encouragement to his spouse Maria and six-year-old son Jacob.
‘I’m OK, they’re treating me effectively… I’m attempting to remain optimistic and I hope that you just and Jacob are wholesome and doing OK and getting assist,’ he says, forcing a smile.
‘I like you each heaps and miss you each heaps and hope to have the ability to speak with you quickly,’ he provides.
A video has been launched of New Zealand pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens, who has been held for a yr by separatist rebels in West Papau
Separatist rebels within the Indonesian area of Papua beforehand launched a chilling video that appeared to point out them holding weapons to the top of Mr Mehrtens, a captive pilot
Mr Mehrtens was working for an Indonesian aviation firm on February 7 final yr when he was kidnapped after touchdown his single-engine Susi Air aircraft on a distant airstrip within the mountainous province of Nduga, present in Indonesia ‘s western half of New Guinea
Mr Mehrtens mentioned the video was shot on December 22, 2023, with the rebels ready weeks earlier than sharing it.
The pilot went on to elucidate he had met with the ‘komandant’, probably a reference to Egianus Kogoya, a commander within the insurgent West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) that’s combating the Indonesian annexation of the territory.
Mr Mehrtens mentioned he would additionally speak to the komandant about making a telephone name to his household.
In a second video additionally launched final week, Mehrtens seems to handle the New Zealand authorities and asks for some provides to ease his time in captivity.
‘Can you please assist to get one or two ventolin inhalers simply in order that I’ve them accessible in case I get some bronchial asthma and, if doable, can I please get an e-book reader like a Kindle with as many English books as doable.
‘That can be very a lot appreciated,’ he says.
Mr Mehrtens was working for an Indonesian aviation firm on February 7 final yr when he was kidnapped after touchdown his single-engine Susi Air aircraft on a distant airstrip within the mountainous province of Nduga, present in Indonesia‘s western half of New Guinea.
A day after he was captured, the group mentioned in a video that he ‘will die right here’ like ‘the remainder of us’ if the Indonesian military tried to rescue him.
Rebel separatists’ spokesperson Sebby Sambom wrote on Facebook that Mr Mehrtens might be held hostage for negotiations with Indonesia – however warned that if Jakarta refused to barter or intervened militarily then the pilot ‘might be executed’.
Sambom mentioned on the time that the rebels would ‘by no means launch’ Mr Mehrtens except Jakarta made the Papua area impartial from Indonesia.
But the Indonesian authorities stood agency, saying Papua will ‘without end stay a professional half’ of Indonesia.
Two months in the past, the separatist rebels threatened to execute Mr Mehrtens if their calls for weren’t met, although he seems to stay alive.
The group from the West Papua Liberation Army, the armed wing of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), seized Mr Mehrtens earlier than setting fireplace to his aircraft on the runway in Paro within the distant Nduga district on February 7 (pictured)
Mr Mehrtens was kidnapped shortly after touching down in Paro within the distant West Papuan province of Nguda
Mr Mehrtens met his spouse Maria in Indonesia, earlier than the couple moved to New Zealand and settled in Auckland after the pilot started flying for Jetstar.
The couple then returned to reside in Indonesia when he recommenced employment with Susi Air, based in 2004, which operates a fleet of fifty plane.
Separatist rebels kidnapped him after they stormed a single-engine Indonesian Susi Airlines aircraft shortly after it landed on a small runway in February.
He was scheduled to evacuate 15 building employees constructing a well being centre within the district after the separatist rebels threatened to kill them.
‘Our plan to evacuate the employees angered the rebels, who responded by setting fireplace to the aircraft and seizing the pilot,’ mentioned Nduga district chief Namia Gwijangge, who was one of many passengers.
‘We deeply remorse this incident.’
The rebels launched all 5 passengers as a result of they have been indigenous Papuans, insurgent spokesman Sebby Sambom mentioned on the time.