Indonesian Military Admits Torture in Papua

By webadmin on 01:29 pm Oct 23, 2010
Category Archive

Camelia Pasandaran

Jakarta. In a rare break from tradition, top government officials on Friday
admitted that soldiers were involved in the grisly torture of two
Papuan men shown in a video posted on YouTube.

Djoko Suyanto,
the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs,
speaking to journalists after a limited cabinet meeting held to discuss
the video, said the military was still investigating the report.

“But
the preliminary explanation is that the incident really took place, and
it is true that the perpetrators are members of the military,” he said.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said soldiers found to
have acted excessively in interrogating prisoners could be
court-martialed. “If they are really wrong they could be arraigned in a
court-martial,” he said.

“There was indeed a firefight at the
time and those questioned were detainees. But it is not impossible that
our soldiers behaved excessively. That will be dealt with. The president
used the words ‘court-martial,’ ” he said.

The graphic
10-minute video appears to show six soldiers burning their prisoners’
genitals and threatening them with knives, guns and a cigar. The exact
identities and fate of the two men remain unclear.

Both
officials said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was very concerned
about the case. “There will be follow-up actions, that has been assured
by the president. There will be a comprehensive investigation,” Djoko
said, adding that there was already a special team on site. He did not
elaborate on the special team.

He denied, however, that the
state was still conducting military operations, including in Papua. He
said that while disturbances by unarmed individuals or groups could be
dealt with according to the law, “If shooting is involved and there are
deaths, special handling is needed.”

He said recent events in Papua had shown that armed attacks were still being carried out against civilians and security forces.

“Armed
groups that are disturbing security are still there and it is in this
context that the armed forces and the police are there, to uphold
security so economic activities can proceed without disturbance,” he
said.

Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, a military analyst from the
Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said the military “deserved
appreciation” for acknowledging that its members were implicated in the
abuse.

“I think they have learned from past experiences and are showing a commitment to being professional,” she said.

However,
Joko Ariwibowo, a member of P2ITTP, a nongovernmental organization
based in Tingginambut, Papua, said the fact that Djoko did not apologize
meant the government was still in denial. “They do not want to fully
admit that they are torturing Papuans,” he said.

The president,
he added, should establish a probe team consisting of the National
Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), NGOs and religious leaders.


With reporting from Banjir Ambarita, Ismira Lutfia, Nurfika Osman & Antara