Sunday, October 17, 2010

Video Shows Papuans Being Tortured

A graphic and disturbing video shows a Papuan man being poked in the genitals with a fiery stick as he is interrogated by a group of men who appear to be members of Indonesia's security services. The video has come to light as the Indonesian government faces continuing criticism about abuses by its security forces in Papua, scene of a long simmering separatist struggle. The Papuan man, stripped naked, bound and with one of the interrogators placing his foot on his chest, is being asked about the location of a cache of weapons. After he tells his interrogators it has been hidden in a pigpen, one of them screams at him: ''You cheat, you cheat.''

Another interrogator then yells ''get a fire, get a fire'' before a colleague administers the torture with a stick that has been burnt in a fire and is smouldering. The man screams in agony, and does so again when the treatment is repeated. The video appears to have been taken with a mobile phone by one of the interrogators, who speak Indonesian with Javanese and Ambonese accents and wear plain clothes.

While it is common for Indonesian police and military personnel to wear civilian clothing, it is impossible to verify those in the video are members of the security services. But the nature of the interrogation suggests professionals are at work, as does a later incident shown on the 10-minute video when an M-16 rifle is pointed at the man's mouth.

''So you want me to shoot your mouth? So your mouth breaks?'' the interrogator shouts.

The emergence of the video - it was posted on YouTube three days ago by someone using the moniker papualiberationarmy and obtained independently by the Herald - will do nothing to lessen criticism of abuses by security forces in Papua.

''We have been living under Indonesia for almost 48 years,'' said Victor Kogoya, a member of the central committee of the Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua, a Papuan student group. ''For all this time, we have never felt calm, never peace. Why? Because ever since the security state has been chasing us, arresting us, killing, terror and intimidation.'' Although Jakarta made an autonomy deal with the province almost 10 years ago, its indigenous Melanesian people remain the country's poorest while migrants flood into the resource-rich area and dominate business and paid employment, further marginalising the Papuans. There have been repeated reports of abuses by the military and police, but foreign journalists are banned from entering Papua without special permission, while non-government groups, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, have been told to leave in the past year.

Two Papuan victims are recorded in the video - one naked and being burned, while the other is clothed and has a large knife placed under his nose as he is being questioned by the men. At one point, one of the interrogators says: ''I'll cut your throat.'' The footage is graphic, with the men hit and threatened throughout the interrogation. The victims speak in the Papuan dialect Lani, strongly suggesting the video was filmed in Puncak Jaya, a regency in Papua's highlands where a unit of the armed Free Papua Movement commanded by Goliath Tabuni has been staging sporadic attacks on Indonesian police and military posts for the past two years. Numerous weapons have been stolen in the raids and at least four soldiers and police have been killed in the past two years. Jakarta has sent members of the national police's mobile brigade and anti-terrorism unit, Detachment 88, to the region. Both units have been accused of using excessive force. There have been repeated allegations of security forces making violent sweeps through villages in Puncak Jaya, a region characterised by soaring mountains covered in thick jungle. The military, including its controversial special forces unit Kopassus, also has a strong presence. Papua, which was formerly known as Dutch New Guinea, was not incorporated into Indonesia when it became a state in 1949. It was held by the Dutch until 1962 when, following Indonesian

military incursions into the area, an agreement brokered through the Untied Nations gave Indonesia administrative control of the region pending a referendum.
That ''referendum'' involved just 1025 handpicked tribal leaders who unanimously agreed to join Indonesia. The so-called ''Act of Free Choice'' has been labelled fraudulent and remains a source of great anger for many indigenous Papuans. While separatist sentiment remains strong, it has little international support. Australia recognises Indonesia's sovereignty over the region. The Herald was unable to obtain a response from the Indonesian military or police late yesterday.
Sydney Morning Herald Tom Allard in Jakarta

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