SBY orders thorough probe of Papua torture video

SBY orders thorough probe of Papua torture video

, 23 October 2010


President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered a “thorough investigation” of a controversial video of the alleged torture of Papuans by Indonesian Military (TNI) members, which a senior minister said was genuine.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto told a press conference here Friday that his agencies, including the Defense Ministry and the TNI, started a probe of the alleged torture footage soon after it was uploaded to YouTube last week.

“I can only explain that the incident indeed happened, that the perpetrators are indeed military soldiers,” Djoko said after a Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office to discuss the videos.

He added that the victims were allegedly implicated in unrelated shooting incidents.

“The President is very concerned about the matter and has been paying close attention to it. He said there should be follow-up [after the investigation] and the investigation should be carried out thoroughly,” he added.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said that any TNI members alleged to have committed wrongdoings would be brought before military tribunals.

Videos showing two Papuan men tortured by two other men wearing camouflage military uniforms have been circulating on the Internet.

According to video transcripts, the conversation between the torturers and the Papuans indicated that the incident occurred in Puncak Jaya regency.

The footage has drawn attention from the international community, and many foreign governments have lodged inquires with Indonesia, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa.

Marty confirmed in a separate press conference that the US government had sent a letter to Yudhoyono to ask the Indonesian government to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Papua, as depicted in the footage.

Djoko denied that the TNI had been conducting a military operation in Papua, saying that TNI members were there to secure the area from occasional guerrilla attacks allegedly perpetrated by separatist groups.

“There are still armed groups disrupting security. It is in this context that the TNI and the National Police do their work, to ensure security so that economic activity can run well,” he said.

Djoko said that unlike previous administrations that focused on security when handling Papua, Yudhoyono preferred economic and prosperity approaches.

The National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) previously said that it had received reports of other human rights violations in Puncak Jaya, including allegations of rape and terrorism in a village that was burned to the ground by a group of men.

Komnas HAM also said there were indications that there had been military operations in the regency.

Human rights NGO Imparsial executive director Poengky Indarti said the government should include Komnas HAM in the investigation of the alleged torture video.

She added that reports showed an increase in the number of alleged human rights violation cases in Papua, prompting Imparsial and other NGOs to demand that the government and the House of Representatives deliberate a law to protect human rights activists.

“We also expect the President to take firm action by immediately ordering state bodies to stop using torture. It is time for Indonesia to pay serious attention to the United Nations’ recommendations against torture,” she said, on behalf of several groups, including Kontras and the Wamena Women Voice.