Saturday, November 6, 2010

West Papua Torture Hearings

Red herring trial draws criticisms

Activists condemned the military’s decision to hold a tribunal in Jayapura on Friday over an alleged torture video, calling it “misleading” and “a farce” to distract the public from the heart of the matter. On Friday, the Jayapura military tribunal held a hearing for four defendants, local military post chief Second Brig. Cosmos K. and his subordinates Syaminan Lubis, Joko Sulistyo and Dwi Purwanto.

The head of the Jayapura military tribunal said Thursday they would bring four soldiers to trial in relation with a torture video on YouTube, leading the public to believe that the defendants were the suspected perpetrators torturers of two Papuans in a video circulated on the Internet that created global outcry for its cruelty.

The testimony of the defendants on Friday, however, revealed that the case was related to another video where the four defendants beat and kicked several residents of Gurage village in Puncak Jaya. The abuse in the video, dated March 17 this year, was milder than the one inflicted on Anggen Pugu Kiwo and Telengga Gire in May.

Phil Robertson, the deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the trial was “misleading” because it was mistakenly believed to be that of Indonesian soldiers burning a Papuan’s genitals in May, the video of which began circulating on YouTube on Oct. 17.

Markus Haluk, a member of the Papua Customary Council, said he was not surprised at Friday’s military tribunal “farce”. The trial, he said, was intended to distract the public as well as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who visited Indonesia earlier this week, and US President Barack Obama, scheduled to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday, from more serious atrocities.

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