Jetstar pilot hostage video is published: Gaunt and pale abducted man is seen in message from the jungles of Indonesia
- Video of missing pilot released
Video has been released of a New Zealand pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens who has been held hostage in West Papua by separatist rebels for more than a year.
Mr Mehrtens, a 38-year-old former Jetstar pilot, appears thin, pale and has a scruffy beard while wearing the same gray top from previous videos.
‘It’s me,’ says Mr Mehrtens with a stifled laugh and says the video is being shot which he says is being shot on 22 December 2023.
“I’m OK, they treat me well,” he continued, smiling.
“I’m trying to stay positive and I hope that you and Jacob are healthy and doing well and getting support.”
A video has been released of New Zealand pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens, who has been held by separatist rebels in West Papua for a year
He appeared to direct the video to his wife Maria and six-year-old son.
Mr Mehrtens said he met with the ‘commandant’, likely a reference to Egianus Kogoya, a commander in the rebel West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) fighting against Indonesian annexation of the territory.
The commandant agreed that Mr Mehrtens could make the video and it would be sent when there is internet available.
Mr Mehrtens said he would also speak to the commandant about a phone call to his family.
“I love you both very much and miss you both very much and hope to be able to talk to you soon,” he says.
Two months ago, the separatist rebels threatened to execute Mr Mehrtens, who they kidnapped during February last year, if their demands were not met.
Mr Mehrtens was working for an Indonesian aviation company when he was kidnapped after landing his single-engine Susi Air plane on a remote airstrip in the mountainous province of Nduga, found in Indonesia’s western half of New Guinea.
A day after he was captured, the group said in a video that he “will die here” like “the rest of us” if the Indonesian military tries to rescue him.
The group from the West Papua Liberation Army, the armed wing of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), seized Mr Mehrtens before he landed his plane on the runway in Paro in the remote Nduga district on February 7. set the fire (photo)
Separatist rebels in the Indonesian region of Papua previously released a chilling video that appeared to show them holding guns to the head of Mr Mehrtens, a captured pilot
Sebby Sambom, spokesperson for the rebel separatists, wrote on Facebook that Mr. Mehrtens will be held hostage for negotiations with Indonesia – but has warned that if Jakarta refuses to negotiate or intervenes militarily, the pilot will be ‘executed’.
Sambom said at the time that the rebels would mr. Mehrtens ‘never release unless Jakarta makes the Papua region independent from Indonesia.
But the Indonesian government stood firm, saying Papua would “forever remain a legitimate part” of Indonesia.
Mr Mehrtens was kidnapped shortly after landing in Paro in the remote West Papua province of Nguda.
Mr Mehrtens met his wife Maria in Indonesia, with the couple moving to New Zealand and living in Auckland while Mr Mehrtens worked for Jetstar.
The couple then returned to live in Indonesia when he resumed work at Susi Air, founded in 2004, which operates a fleet of 50 aircraft.
Separatist rebels kidnapped him after storming a single-engine Indonesian Susi Airlines plane shortly after it landed on a small runway in February.
He was scheduled to evacuate 15 construction workers building a health center in the district after the separatist rebels threatened to kill them.
“Our plan to evacuate the workers angered the rebels, who responded by setting fire to the plane and seizing the pilot,” said Nduga district chief Namia Gwijangge, who was one of the passengers. “We deeply regret this incident.”
The rebels released all five passengers because they are indigenous Papuans, rebel spokesman Sebby Sambom said at the time.