'Torture video' in different US newspapers

Video shows Indonesian troops torture Papuans

Washington Post, 18 October 2010

 

Indonesian security forces have been captured on video torturing an alleged separatist in Papua province, burning his genitals as he screams out in agony and then threatening to shoot him in the mouth, human rights activists said Monday.

The body of the victim, identified as Werius Selenggen, was found soon after in the mountainous region, where soldiers, police and anti-terror officers had been searching for insurgents and weapons, said Matius Murib, of the independently run National Commission on Human Rights.

Indonesia has made tremendous strides toward democracy since emerging from 32 years of dictatorship just over a decade ago. But in Papua, home to a long-running, low-level insurgency, security forces are still accused of arbitrary imprisonment, torture and killings.

The government bars foreign journalists, human rights workers and academics access to the province, making it difficult to verify such claims.

 

But increasingly, brutal videos have found their way onto the Internet.

Earlier this year, a prisoner was shown lying in a jungle clearing moments after military police allegedly sliced open his abdomen. As they watched him die, they taunted him, calling him an atheist and a savage.

Like other cases, the government has promised to investigate.

The 10-minute clip of Selenggen - a copy of which was obtained by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission - appears to have been taken by one of the interrogators on a mobile phone.

A military spokesman confirmed the men, dressed in plain clothes, were soldiers, though he questioned when the video was shot and the motive of those who leaked it.

They are shown gathering around Selenggen as he lies naked on patch of gravel in the remote village of Puncak Jaya. One steps roughly on his chest, as another repeatedly asks where he and his friends have stashed their weapons.

"Where did you put them? In the church? The woods? Along the river? In a pigsty? Tell me!" barks one of the interrogators.

Selenggen says he doesn't know, that he's a just an ordinary villager, and is kicked in the gut by one soldier, while another stubs a lit cigarette out in his face.


Indonesia: Video Shows Torture of Separatist in Papua Province
New York Times, 18 October 2010

 

Human rights activists said Monday that they had obtained a video showing Indonesian security forces torturing a suspected separatist in Papua Province, burning his genitals and then threatening to shoot him in the mouth. The body of the victim, Werius Selenggen, was found in late 2009 in an area of the province where soldiers had been searching for insurgents and weapons. The central government promised to investigate.


Graphic video of Indonesian security forces torturing Papuan suspects triggers public outrage

Los Angeles Times, 18 October 2010

Chicago Tribune, 18 October 2010

 

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A grisly video that shows Indonesian security forces torturing suspected separatists in Papua province — burning the genitals of one and running a knife across the neck of another — sparked public outcry Tuesday after circulating on the Internet.

For many in the young democracy, the images were a reminder of the dark days of former dictator Suharto, who often used the military and police to stifle dissent, especially in far-flung regions with aspirations of independence.

Stories about the video were prominent in local newspapers Tuesday and expressions of anger filled commentary pages.

"It was shocking, every scene was barbaric," said Haris Azhar of the human rights group, Kontras. "The government has to find out who is behind such violence in Papua and bring them to court."

One of the suspected separatists is shown lying naked on patch of gravel in the remote village of Puncak Jaya. An interrogator steps roughly on his chest, as another repeatedly asks where he and his friends have stashed their weapons.

"You're a liar. Get the fire. Burn him," the interrogator says and a soldier jumps up to carry out an order to burn the victim's genitals.

There were conflicting reports Tuesday about the man's identity.

Matius Murib, of the independent National Commission on Human Rights, said he was Werius Selenggen, a local church council official, whose body was found soon after he was tortured in late 2009.

But Andreas Harsono, of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the timing and dialogue on the video suggest someone else. A metadata analysis indicated it was filmed on a 3G cell phone camera on May 30, 2010, he said.

The second victim, also not yet formally identified, is shown being threatened with a knife.

Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation of more than 237 million people, has made tremendous strides toward democracy since Suharto was ousted just over a decade ago, implementing reforms that have freed the media and vastly improved human rights.

The government is highly sensitive to the ongoing separatist struggle in Papua, however, giving lengthy prison terms to activists for peacefully expressing their views, organizing rallies or for simply raising pro-independence flags.

It bars access to foreign journalists, human rights workers and academics, making it difficult to verify claims of abuse.

The 10-minute clip said to be of Selenggen — a copy of which was obtained by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission — is one of several videos that have surfaced on the Internet in recent months.

But none has created such a stir, in part because many people insist the perpetrators were not police — who are still struggling with a reputation for arbitrary arrests and torture — but soldiers.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, himself a former four-star general, has been largely successful in cleaning up the image of the armed forces since taking power six years ago.

The U.S. even responded by restoring military ties, long severed over concerns of abuse.

"It probably happened in a different era and someone leaked it to make us look bad," said Lt. Col. Susilo, a provincial military spokesman, adding that an investigation will determine if the men, who were dressed in plain clothes, were soldiers or police.

"I promise you, if it does turn out these abuses were carried out recently, we'll find out who was responsible and we'll come down hard."

Indonesia took over Papua from the Dutch in 1963 and formalized its sovereignty six years later through a stage-managed vote by about 1,000 community leaders.

Human rights groups say more than 100,000 people — a fifth of the impoverished province's population — have died as result of military action.