WPAT: Torture Video Reveals "Indonesia's Abu Ghraib" on Eve of Obama Visit

For Immediate Release

East Timor & Indonesia Action Network
Contact: 

Ed McWilliams (WPAT) +1-575-648-2078

WPAT: Torture Video Reveals "Indonesia's Abu Ghraib" on Eve of Obama Visit

WASHINGTON - A new video shows the torture of helpless men in the Indonesian-ruled
territory of West Papua. Monitoring groups are already describing the
footage as "Indonesia's Abu Ghraib." The video reveals indisputably
Indonesian security force brutality, and raises serious questions about the
Obama administration's decision to embrace cooperation with Indonesian
security forces engaged in active and ongoing torture.

The video, available at

http://material.ahrchk.net/video/AHRC-VID-012-2010-Indonesia.html
, is
the

second in recent months
to offer graphic footage of Indonesian security
force torture of Papuans. In it, a Papuan man is held to the ground while a
hot stick, still smoldering from a fire, is held against his genitals. A
plastic bag is wrapped around his head several times, a rifle held against
him. Another man has a large knife held against him while he pleads: "I'm
just an ordinary civilian, please..." One of his interrogators responds:
"I'll cut your throat... Do not lie, I will kill you! Burn the penis!" The
video appears to have been taken on the cell phone of one interrogator.
Although the interrogators are dressed in plain clothes, they speak in
Javanese and in Indonesian with non-Papuan accents. Plain clothes dress is
common for Indonesian security forces in West Papua. The techniques used
used mean they are almost certainly trained security personnel in the
Indonesian army or police. The dialect of the victims places them in the

Puncak Jaya region
, where security forces are accused of repeated rights
abuses.

The extreme brutality revealed in this footage is not new. What is new is
that there is now additional video evidence of the brutality suffered by
Papuans for nearly five decades. The international community can now clearly
witness the indisputably harsh reality of life for Papuans. While Indonesia
continues on the path of democratization and peaceful resolution of
disputes, one region is sent on the opposite path: towards ongoing military
domination, widespread suppression of political activity, and routine use of
torture and other severe violations of basic human rights. In West Papua,
the brutal and unaccountable Indonesian military and its accomplices, the
militarized police (Brimob),
special forces (Kopassus) and
"anti-terror" force (Detachment 88) continue to
operate with impunity under the old dictatorship's rules: peaceful dissent
is criminalized; civil society leaders are humiliated and intimidated and
the international community is precluded from any effective monitoring of
conditions in this besieged community.

Thanks to the courage of Papuan human rights
advocates in the face of harsh security measures designed to silence them,
the world periodically has been witness to the harsh rule of West Papua. In
the past, the faith in international justice and humanity demonstrated by
these courageous Papuans has been betrayed by the international community's
deference to the Indonesian government's insistence that neither its course
nor rule there not be challenged. Numerous governments have placed the
territorial integrity of Indonesia and the desire to support its
democratization process first. In the process, however, they have abandoned
what could have been constructive efforts to uphold human rights in West
Papua, which continue to be systematically violated.

Geopolitical and commercial goals led the U.S.
government to ignore Suharto dictatorship
atrocities
targeting its own people and the people of East Timor for
decades. President Bill Clinton acknowledged this when East Timor gained its
independence in 2002,

saying
: "I don't believe America or any of the other countries were
sufficiently sensitive in the beginning and for a long time, a long time
before 1999, going all the way back to the '70s, to the suffering of the
people of East Timor." It was the suffering of the people of East Timor that
led to Congress deciding to suspend military
cooperation
with Indonesia.

The system of security force rule and
repression of peaceful dissent has been dismantled in much of Indonesia, but
the same security system and the same systematic human rights violations
continue in West Papua today. Such stopgap solutions as "special autonomy"
have been clearly rejected by the Papuan people. Despite the continued human
rights violations, the Obama administration has continued the Bush
administration's policy of support to the Indonesian security forces. It has
continued support to the Indonesian
military
through the IMET program, and support through the Anti-Terror
Assistance Program to the notorious Detachment 88 of the Indonesian National
Police, credibly accused of torture and other rights violations. It has
resumed cooperation with the Indonesian special forces (Kopassus)
notwithstanding that unit's  decades-old record of human rights abuse
including recent, credible accounts of brutality targeting Papuan
civilians.  In so doing the Obama Administration, like its predecessors, has
wittingly or unwittingly made itself complicit in the repression now
underway in West Papua.
 
The United States, under President John F. Kennedy, was responsible for the
transfer of West Papua to Indonesian rule. In that act, the United
States made itself co-responsible for the outcome of its actions. Successive
administrations have not been sufficiently sensitive to the
ongoing human rights violations, including torture to this day, which
resulted from Indonesian rule.

President Obama's upcoming visit to Indonesia offers an opportunity to end
the silence on West Papua, and to craft new policies that advance
human rights rather than lending support to human rights violators.
Information about the ongoing human rights violations in West Papua was
heard on September 22 by the House
of Representatives Sub-committee on Asia, the Pacific
.

The Obama administration should:

  • Insist upon an investigation and
    prosecution of those who recently tortured Papuans in Puncak Jaya

  • Seek an investigation by relevant United
    Nations human rights rapporteurs of this and other instances of torture
    in West Papua

  • Suspend cooperation with Indonesian
    security forces accused of systematic human rights violations, including
    Detachment 88 and the Brimob (Mobile Brigade) of the National Police and
    the Indonesian special forces (Kopassus)

  • Call for full and open access for
    journalists, humanitarian assistance personnel including the
    International Committee of the red Cross and other international
    monitors to all of West Papua

  • Seek meetings between President Obama and
    Papuan human rights and civil society leaders during his visit to
    Indonesia

  • Call upon the Indonesian government to
    carry out an internationally facilitated, senior-level dialogue process
    with Papuan officials and civil society designed to resolve the Papuan
    conflict peacefully, as was done in Aceh province

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see
also

 

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