Human rights body chief: Papua torture case not over

Human rights body chief: Papua torture case not over

, 13 November 2010

The national human rights body says it would look into reports of human rights violations in Papua, adding that a recent military tribunal only paid lip service in the attempt to bring justice to the province.

On Thursday, the Jayapura military tribunal sentenced Chief Pvt. Sahminan Husain Lubis, Second Pvt. Joko Sulistiono and Second Pvt. Dwi Purwanto to five months in prison. Their superior, Second Lt. Cosmos was sentenced to seven months in prison for his role in beating and kicking 30 Puncak Jaya residents in March.

“I won’t comment on the verdict,” National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) deputy chairman Joseph “Stanley” Adi Prasetyo told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He said the Indonesian Military failed to identify the perpetrators of a more grievous incident of torture against Papuans Anggen Pugu Kiwo and Telengga Gire in May this year. The video of Gire and Kiwo being tortured was circulated on the Internet in October and prompted a global outcry. The soldiers in the video used sharp weapons on the two men and pressed a burning bamboo stick into one of the men’s genitals.

The recent military tribunal, however, did not try the soldiers who tortured Gire and Kiwo, but rather four soldiers who assaulted villagers.

Lt. Col. Susilo, a spokesman for the military command in Papua, told Australia’s The Age that the military could not find Kiwo and Gire’s torturers as they could not be identified from the video.

Stanley said the commission would try to unearth more facts from the Kiwo and Gire video and other reports of human rights violations to decide whether to set up an ad hoc human rights tribunal.

Human ights activists have claimed that abuse of human rights were widespread, but not publicized. The circulated videos were only the tip of the iceberg, they said.

Human Rights research director of Imparsial, Bhatara Ibnu Reza, said Friday that the military tribunal lacked transparency and was often subject to outside influence.

Papua Customary Council member Markus Haluk criticized the trial, saying it lacked the testimony of the assault victims.

Bhatara said an opaque military tribunal system would never result in justice.

Even if information on the trial was made publicly available, military prosecutors often pressed insignificant charges against the suspects, he added.

“The sentences handed down by the military tribunal were laughably light,” he said.

Bhatara said given the reports of human rights violations in Papua, a human rights tribunal was desperately needed.

A human rights tribunal is an ad-hoc court for human rights violations that are considered important at the national level. Reports of human rights violations keep trickling in but no human rights tribunal has ever been held for victims.

An official from the US-based West Papua Advocacy Team, Edmund McWilliams, said when Soeharto was toppled, democracy took reign in Indonesia, but not in Papua.

The military tribunal was played up by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as proof of Indonesia’s commitment to upholding human rights ahead of the visit of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in November, only two weeks after the Kiwo and Gire video was circulated. Several Australian media outlets picked up the story following the video, increasing pressure ahead of Gillard’s visit. (ebf)