Indonesia: Malukan Activists at Risk of Torture in Detention Says Amnesty International

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Indonesia: Malukan Activists at Risk of Torture in Detention Says Amnesty International

WASHINGTON - Amnesty International has
warned that ten Malukan political activists detained by Indonesia's special
anti-terrorism police are facing a high risk of torture.

Detachment 88 police officers, who have regularly
been accused of involvement in torture, arrested the activists on August
2nd.  The activists had been planning to use a visit by
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Maluku province on August
3rd to draw attention to the human rights violations there.

"We fear these activists are at risk of extremely
brutal treatment given the record of Detachment 88,"
said Donna Guest, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director for Amnesty International.
 "Independence activists in Maluku have been tortured with impunity
by police in the past."

Benney Sinay, Izak Sapulete, Andy Maruanaya,
Ongen Krikof, Marven Bremer, Steven Siahaya, Ong Siahaya, Nomo Andries,
Charly Souisa and Glenn Wattimury are currently being held in police detention.

The men are accused of having links to the
Republic of South Maluku (R.M.S.)
movement, according to local sources.  The R.M.S.
was a pro-independence group whose armed wing has been defunct since 1966.

The activists were planning to disseminate
posters, books and other materials on alleged human rights violations in
Maluku and call for the release of Malukan political prisoners during the
President's visit, Amnesty International has been told.

Detachment 88 officers are reported to be
continuing their searches in the houses of family members of the activists.
 

The unit was formed as a special anti-terrorism
branch of the Indonesian police after the 2002 Bali bombings.

In recent years, Amnesty International has
documented dozens of arrests of political activists in Indonesia who have
peacefully called for independence for their region.

"The Indonesian authorities need to stop
treating free speech and peaceful activism as security threats," said
Guest.

In June 2007, twenty-two political activists
in Maluku province were arrested by Detachment 88 and other police for
unfurling the Maluku independence flag in front of Indonesia's President.

In detention, they were beaten, forced to
crawl on their stomachs over hot asphalt, whipped with an electric cable
and had billiard balls forced into their mouths. They were also beaten
on the head with rifle butts until their ears bled, and shots were fired
near their ears.  The police threatened them continually with further
torture, sometimes at gunpoint, in an attempt to force them to confess.

They are all currently serving sentences between
seven and twenty years of imprisonment for ‘rebellion.' Despite the evidence
of torture and the serious concerns this raises about the unfairness of
their trials, there has been no investigation into their cases by the Indonesian
authorities.

Independence activists in the province of
Papua have also received hefty sentences for raising their independence
flags in peaceful demonstrations.

Background

The twenty-two activists arrested in 2007
were convicted of ‘rebellion' under Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesia
Criminal Code.  A twenty-third person was arrested in June 2008 and
was sentenced to four years of imprisonment in March 2009.  All are
considered by Amnesty International to be prisoners of conscience.

The Republic of South Maluku (R.M.S.),
an armed pro-independence movement, officially ended in Maluku with the
execution by the Indonesian authorities of its leader in 1966. However,
some villagers in Maluku continue to raise the 'Benang Raja flag,' a symbol
of the South Maluku independence, as a peaceful political act of protest
against the central government.

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