Thursday, June 25, 2009
Indoneisan Military Tells Watchdog To ‘Eat’ Report on Papua
The Indonesian military struck back bitterly on Thursday against accusations that members of elite special forces had acted with impunity in Papua to detain, torture and beat up ordinary citizens.
Human Rights Watch had urged the government in a report published earlier in the day that it should investigate the alleged abuses and prosecute the offenders and commanding officers in Kopassus. It also called on countries such as the United States, Australia and Britain to cut training ties with Kopassus until the matter had been fully investigated.
Military spokesman Air Vice Marshall Sagom Tamboen swiftly responded with comments suggesting the report would likely be ignored.
“Let them eat the report,” he said of New York-based Human Rights Watch.
In its report, Human Rights Watch said “the long history of political tensions and abuses by Indonesian security forces in Papua have created a climate of fear in the province.”
Kopassus has faced allegations of rights abuses in separatist hot spots such as Aceh, Papua and the former territory of East Timor before the country won independence in 1999. The elite force is currently headed by Major-General Pramono Edhie Wibowo, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s brother-in-law.
One of its earlier leaders was Prabowo Subianto, a former general who is now former President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s running mate in the July 8 presidential election.
The rights group alleged that Kopassus troops took residents off the street or from their homes in the Papuan city of Merauke though they had no known ties to the separatist movement. The report cited testimony from Papuans who said they had been beaten and forced to eat chilli peppers while their mouths were bleeding, causing severe pain.