Rights group says video shows Indonesia torture

Rights group says video shows Indonesia torture

Reuters, 18 October 2010


A Hong Kong-based rights group released on Monday a video allegedly showing Indonesian soldiers torturing indigenous Papuans -- including burning the genitals of one man.

The military maintains a strong presence in resource-rich Papua, Indonesia's eastern-most and most restive province, where a separatist movement has existed for decades and allegations of abuse by police and soldiers are not uncommon.

Local media quoted the chief of the armed forces saying the military would check if the footage was genuine or not.

The Asian Human Rights Commission said that for security reasons it could not reveal how it obtained the footage, which can be seen on the activist group's website (link.reuters.com/hyp88p). Scenes showing genital mutilation have been edited out.

"The video is in two parts. The first shows military officers who have caught some villagers. They hit them, kick them and ask them to give names of separatists," the group's executive director Wong Kai Shing told Reuters by phone.

"In the second part, we see two people being tortured. One has a knife on his neck and in another scene, an interrogator tried to burn another man's penis with a burning stick."

Wong said the footage, which was taken in West Papua province, featured uniformed officers and showed that there was a culture of impunity within security forces.

Indonesian soldiers cannot be tried in civilian courts and military courts give only lenient sentences, he said.

The chief of the Indonesian military, Agus Suhartono, said the military would investigate whether or not the footage was real.

"I have only just received a report on this. So currently we are issuing instructions to check its veracity," he told Indonesian TV station Metro TV.

Parliament may summon Suhartono to explain the footage, lawmaker Bambang Soesatyo was quoted by Indonesian news website Kompas.com as saying.

The United States recently said it would restart joint training exercises with the military's special forces unit, Kopassus, citing improvements in the military's human rights record.