Calls for Probe Into Indonesian ‘Military Torture’ Video

Calls for Probe Into Indonesian ‘Military Torture’ Video

, 19 October 2010


A volley of international criticism was unleashed at Indonesia on Monday over a video circulating on the Internet that apparently depicts two Papuans being interrogated and tortured by Indonesian soldiers.

Scenes from the video show two men apparently being

abused during interrogation by soldiers
The graphic 10-minute video was posted on video-sharing Web site YouTube late last week under the title “Military Torture of Indigenous Papuans,” but was taken down on Monday morning.

In it, two Papuan men are pinned to the ground while interrogated by six unidentified men. One is wearing Army-standard blue aerobics pants and another an Army camouflage jacket.

While one interrogator puts a foot on the chest of one of the Papuans, who is stripped naked with his hands and feet bound, a man can be heard asking him about the location of weapons in the area.

“Show us the weapons! Do you know of any weapons in Gurage [village]?” he is asked.

He repeatedly answers: “I’m a civilian, I don’t know anything,” but a man in the background later says, “You’re lying. Burn him. Burn him.”

A smoldering stick is later seen apparently burning the genitals of the Papuan, who screams, “I’m telling the truth — the truth,” in a tribal dialect, Lani.

The interrogators later wave an automatic rifle and lit cigarette near the man’s face.
In another scene, a man repeatedly holds the blade of a long knife to the face and neck of another Papuan, a much younger man, while interrogating him.

The identities of the two Papuans remain unknown, but the video’s metadata suggests that the video was taken on May 30, around the time Papuan activists reported the disappearance of two civilians, Tunaliwor Kiwo and Telangga Gire.

The two men were last seen at an Army checkpoint in Gurage, in the Tingginambut subdistrict of Puncak Jaya.

Unlike other areas in the province, Tingginambut is still declared a Military Operational Region (DOM) because it is reportedly the base of the armed separatist group the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

The country’s newly appointed military chief, Adm. Agus Suhartono, on Monday said he had already ordered an investigation into the alleged torture, adding that “if any soldiers are found guilty, then we will submit them to a legal investigation.”

Mahfudz Siddiq, who heads House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees defense, said the military should let the police probe the incident.

But he also said the video might be part of a campaign by separatists aimed at putting pressure on the government.

“So what happened in the video, if it is true, could be a new weapon for them to consolidate their power, and at the same time harm Indonesia,” he said.

Democratic Party lawmaker Ramadhan Pohan said even if soldiers were found to be involved, it should not be seen as a systemic problem but one of poor discipline by individual personnel.

“I think the military must fully clarify this issue. If any soldiers are involved in actions as shown in the YouTube recording, there should be sanctions for the soldiers,” he said.

“And it should be announced publicly; they must admit that the incident did happen.”

Another Commission I member, Tritamtomo, said military commanders in Papua should respond quickly to the video and order a thorough investigation.

Human Rights Watch has also called for a full inquiry.

“What the video suggests is that torture is taking place despite claims by the Indonesian government that such force is not being exerted,” said Phil Robertson, the group’s Asia deputy director.

“We are gravely concerned, the credibility of the Indonesian military is fast eroding.”

Wong Kai Shing, head of the Asian Human Rights Commission, urged Indonesia to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture, which it signed in 1998.

“This is only one of numerous cases of torture by the military in Papua that has been reported to us,” he said.