TNI promises to investigate torture video

TNI promises to investigate torture video
, 20 October 2010

The Indonesian Military (TNI) has promised that, pending the results of an investigation, it will punish men wearing military fatigues caught on tape torturing Papuans.

The Asian Human Rights Commission recently posted a five-minute video depicting Papuans undergoing violent interrogation in relation to a weapons cache, at the hands of several men dressed in green camouflage military shirts.

A longer 10-minute version of the video has also circulated around the Internet.

Both versions depict one of the uniformed men wrapping a plastic bag around the head of one of the victims. The interrogation also involved scorching one of the Papuan men’s genitals with a charred bamboo spear.

Cendrawasih Military Commander XVII Maj. Gen. Hotma Marbun said firm legal actions would be handed down against the perpetrators in the video if they were found to be members of the military.

“It has been emphasized that the military must not [violate the human rights] of civilians,” he said Tuesday.

Hotma said while he had not seen the video himself, he had instructed the Assistant for Intelligence at the Cendrawasih Military District Command XVII to pinpoint the source of the video.

“First find locations that bear a similarity to the place seen in the video,” he said.

Papua councillor Ruben Magai said the government needed to be serious in investigating human rights violation cases that took place in Papua, as the international community was carefully monitoring the progress of these cases.

Previously, similar cases had not been addressed properly by the Indonesian government, allowing the violations to continue, he said.

A report compiled by Markus Haluk, a Papuan human rights activist from the Central Papua Student for Indonesia group, lists various human rights violations allegedly committed by the Indonesian Military and National Police against Papuans in the Puncak Jaya region.

The report, documenting events between June to Oct. 2010, reveals violence (including rape) committed against residents of Tingginambut district, by personnel stationed at the nearby military post.

The report also documents the burning of Bigiragi village on Oct. 11, by a group of men who witnesses described as wearing gray-brown clothes labelled with the word “police”.

Phil Robertson, the deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the latest video reflected the impunity of military personnel under the Indonesian justice system.

“The people who took the video were obviously not concerned that they would ever be held accountable for torturing those two Papuan villagers,” Robertson said.

The failure of the military justice system to punish those involved would cause further problems, he added. “No one has been held accountable, no reports have emerged, and there are no indications of what will happen next,” he said.