Minister Mum on Papua Torture Video, but Promises Investigation

Minister Mum on Papua Torture Video, but Promises Investigation
, 19 October 2010


Minister of Justice and Human Rights Patrialis Akbar declined comment on an Internet video that appears to show Indonesian soldiers torturing Papuans, but promised a probe. He made the remarks on Wednesday at the launch of the Human Rights Resource Center for Asean.

The 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.

It showed two Papuan men pinned to the ground and being roughly interrogated by six unidentified men. One is wearing Army-issue blue aerobics pants and another is wearing an Army camouflage jacket.

“I haven’t seen the video myself so I cannot comment, but we will send the ministry’s research and development team to probe the case,” Patrialis said.

“Every time there is a case like this, we always send our research and development team for inquiry and we will analyze it based on the team’s report,” Patrialis said.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said what was depicted on the video was “an indication of impunity.”

The video appears to show the alleged soldiers burning their prisoners’ genitals and threatening them with knives, guns and a cigar.

“The people who were taking that video obviously were never concerned that they would ever be held accountable,” said Phil Robertson, the group’s Asia deputy director.

And even if they had been somewhat hesitant about the incriminating evidence, he said, their fears may have been allayed by the fruitless police investigation into the alleged Aug. 3 Densus 88 torture of activists in Ambon.

Robertson acknowledged that Agus Suhartono, the newly appointed chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), had vowed to haul soldiers found to have taken part in the alleged Papua torture before a military tribunal.

But Robertson said the military court was known for protecting soldiers and not delivering justice.

“What the government should be doing is conducting a thorough, complete and credible investigation, releasing the report to the public and charging these people in a civilian court,” he said.

Separately, Markus Haluk of the Papuan Tribal Council (DPA) said members of the police’s elite Mobile Brigade unit (Brimob) had burned dozens of homes in Bigiragi village, in Puncak Jaya, Papua, on Oct. 11, leaving 650 people homeless.

“We are civilians and are unarmed, but we continue to be persecuted without any refuge, without any shelter,” Markus said.

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

Security forces in the region have been accused of numerous human rights violations.

In an incident this month, police shot and killed three people after violence broke out at an airport in Wamena in the central mountainous range of Papua.

It remains unclear what sparked the violence was but the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has accused police of extrajudicial killings.