Torture, A Routine Tactic for Security Forces in West Papua
For the second time in recent months video footage of torture by Indonesian security forces targeting Papuans has revealed the brutality with which Indonesian security forces oppress Papuans.
The latest torture videos clearly depict Indonesian security forces applying a burning ember to one man’s genitals and suffocating him while a second man had a knife held to his throat and face. This video footage follows footage this summer of a Papuan who was knifed while in custody. That video showed his agonizing final minutes during which he was taunted by the Indonesian security forces who dealt him his fatal wound.
In response to calls from the U.S. and other governments, the Yudhoyono administration has launched an investigation into the incident, though it has apparently ignored calls from Indonesian and international NGOs (such as Imparsial and Amnesty International) to include the Indonesian National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas Ham) in that investigation. Some Papuans have called for an international investigation.
The Indonesian Defense Minister stated that the perpetrators would be brought before a military tribunal. Military tribunals routinely mete out light sentences for security force crimes committed against civilians.
WPAT Comment: Indonesian security forces are recipient of significant U.S. and other international training and other assistance. The Obama administration recently expanded that long-standing assistance, extending it to Indonesia’s notorious special forces (Kopassus) which has a particularly notorious record in West Papua.
Sophisticated Cyber Attack Targets NGO Websites Carrying Indonesian Security Force Torture Video
On October 27-28, a cyber attack was launched against several international NGO websites that had posted video footage revealing Indonesian security forces torturing Papuans (see above). The massive cyber attack shut down a number of the websites for extended periods.
Experts analyzing the worldwide attack assessed that the coordination and sophistication of the effort required resources available only to a government or government agency. It would be unlikely for a single hacker or a small group of hackers to conduct such an operation.
WPAT Comment: This cyber attack, almost certainly the work of Indonesian security and/or intelligence agencies, is consistent with long-standing Indonesian Government policy and practice of precluding any international monitoring of developments in West Papua.
The US Government’s Inadequate Response to Indonesian Security Force Atrocities
The Obama Administration, rather than simply condemning the torture of Papuans by Indonesian security personnel revealed in the infamous footage which so shocked the international community, has suggested a specious silver lining.
US officials, media reports noted, were “quick to praise Indonesia for its upfront approach” in acknowledging the role of security forces in the torture. Media also reported U.S. officials as saying the undeniable evidence of security force employment of torture against civilians “would not affect military ties, which form one component of a comprehensive partnership agreement President Barack Obama is to sign in Jakarta.
WPAT Comment: The Obama administration’s limp response to the undeniable evidence of security force criminal actions (atrocities) revealed in the “torture video” makes clear that like its predecessors the Obama administration is prepared to play the role of apologist for those forces. This U.S. administration, in resuming contact with the Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) in particular, demonstrates an even greater willingness than the Bush and Clinton administration to provide diplomatic cover for human rights violations by the security forces in Indonesia.
Indonesian Security Forces Incinerate Papuan Village
Sources in West Papua report the incineration of a Papuan village named Bigiragi in the West Papuan central highlands (Puncak Jaya). The assault on the village by 16 personnel wearing police uniforms transpired on October 11. The perpetrators destroyed 29 homes. There were no reports of casualties among the Papuans or police who were apparently responsible for the assault. Two villagers treked over a two day period to report the attack to the Papua Customary Council (DAP).
This Brimob attack targeting civilians is similar to assaults against villages throughout the Puncak Jaya that have continued for many years. It is not clear whether this assault was in the context of an ongoing “sweep operation” which in the past has driven thousands of civilians into the forests where lack of access to adequate food, shelter and medical attention has led to the deaths of hundreds.
Papuan Officials Demand and End to Security Force Violence Against Papuan Civilians
In the wake of clear evidence of security force torture, the destruction of Bigiragi village, and extrajudicial killings… Papua legislative members Yan Mandenas and Ruben Magai observed that violence against Papuan civilians continued to be problem “due to light punishments given to perpetrators, sending the message that taking the life of a civilian could be a normal matter.” The legislators noted that since Papua’s annexation by Indonesia “cases of human rights violation have continued to increase and none of them has been legally resolved.”
***these have been highlights from a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) co-published with the East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN). you can read the entire report clicking here.