New Zealand negotiates with Papua to rescue pilot taken hostage

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Chris Hipkins – GUO LEI / NOTICIAS XINHUA / CONTACTOPHOTO

The New Zealand government announced Wednesday that it is negotiating with Indonesian authorities to free a New Zealand pilot who was reportedly taken hostage by separatist forces in the Indonesian region of Papua.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkinks has indicated that New Zealand officials on Indonesian soil are working on the case, as reported by RNZ radio station.

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is providing support to the pilot’s family, with no further details on the incident being provided by the country’s authorities at this time.

The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement, has claimed responsibility, stating that the New Zealand pilot was arrested and taken hostage because of his stance «against the unitary state of Indonesia», according to the Suara Papua portal.

TPNPB spokesman Sebby Sambom said the hostage will not be released until New Zealand and other countries «are held accountable» for militarily supporting the Indonesian army against the Papuan population.

«On that basis, the pilot will be a guarantee for the United Nations, Europe, the United States and Australia to talk because those who sent war teams to Indonesia, trained them to kill us for 60 years,» he said, as reported by the Indonesian magazine Tempo.

Indonesian government security forces have been accused over the past decades of human rights abuses in Papua, a region that was incorporated into Indonesia in a U.N.-administered vote that rights groups and independence activists criticized as a sham. As a result, there has been a separatist insurgency in Papua since the 1960s.