cover hill- captives

Hill, Stephen
Captives for Freedom: Hostages, Negotiations and the Future of West Papua
ISBN-13: 978-9980892034
University of Papua New Guinea Press, 230 p.
A pregnant woman who works for the UN, Martha, is taken hostage by a group of tribal West Papuan freedom fighters along with her partner, other foreigners and Indonesians. The tribesmen find out she is pregnant and decide that the baby is a "Gift from God" and must be their new "Messiah". They plan to keep Martha hostage until the baby is born, and then carry the baby, to be called Papuani, into battle as a mascot to protect them against the Indonesian military bullets.

It's the stuff of fiction. But it is all true.

Martha's captors, the OPM, were seeking international attention to the murder, repression, exploitation, and massive human rights abuses perpetrated on their people, without sanction, by the Indonesian military. Stephen Hill was a senior UN official, and Ambassador of the United Nations to Indonesia at the time, responsible for the UN's role in negotiating release of the hostages, and the subsequent aid initiatives. Negotiations extended as far up on the international side as to the Secretary General of the United Nations, and the Pope; at an enormous cultural distance, the abductors were indigenous Papuan freedom fighters.

The book continues the story of the West Papuans until today - as, the Papuans' fight has become unified within the international community. The book's final chapters bring to light the way that West Papua's future is set within the 'shadow play' of highly complex current Indonesian politics. West Papuans still remain "Captives for Freedom".


Just six months into a role with the United Nations in the mid 1990s, UOW Emeritus Professor Stephen Hill AM had two members of staff taken hostage by rebels in West Papua. A senior UN official and Ambassador of the United Nations to Indonesia at the time, Professor Hill was responsible for the UN’s role in negotiating the safe release of the hostages and the subsequent aid initiatives.

On Wednesday 25 October, Professor Hill officially released his book, Captives for Freedom, at a special event at the UOW UniShop.

The book reads like a detective’s novel and gives real-life accounts of the events that unfolded throughout the negotiation and release of hostages.

Captives for Freedom continues the story of the West Papuans until now, revealing the level of hidden military repression of the people which continues to this day.