Yudhoyono's promise to prosecute torturers goes unmet
Human rights activists are
characterizing a court-martial ostensibly conducted to punish Indonesian
soldiers for torturing two Papuan farmers as a show trial to provide cover for
the military during visits last month by US President Barack Obama and
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Posted anonymously on YouTube
last month, video footage of the two farmers being tortured by Indonesian
soldiers shocked the world, coming as it did just weeks before the Obama and
Gillard visits. Although President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged that those
responsible would be prosecuted, a month on, investigations into the abuse
appear to have been dropped.
In the video, farmer Anggen Pugu Kiwo
screams in pain as a burning stick is held against his genitals. He is bound and
naked as Indonesian military officers demand he give them information about
weapons allegedly being stored by Papuan independence fighters in his village.
It is just one of several brutal images in the footage.
outrage over the abuse, a court-martial did take place in Papua, but it was for
a separate and far less serious incident. This confusion gave the government
breathing space to entertain President Obama, who arrived several days after and
made no mention of the case.
Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch says
the trial was a joke. "I'm afraid the trial was made to respond to the prime
minister's visit and also the US president's visit," Harsono said. "It was not
even the right trial it was a trial of another video. I don't think they are
serious about finding the perpetrators."
Another tape of Tunaliwor Kiwo
explaining his torture ordeal has also been released following the court
martial. In it, Kiwo explains in graphic detail how his captors beat him with a
log, used pliers to pull the nails from his feet, cut his body with a razor and
repeatedly held plastic bags over his head so he couldn't breathe. After that,
he says, they rubbed salt and chilli into his wounds.
switched to the TNI soldier concocting this chilli sauce using a huge number of
chillies, red onions, garlic, detergent and salt mixed with water. They poured
it over my body from head to toe," Kiwo said. "I screamed because it hurt so
much and they made sure not a single body part was missed."
he eventually escaped after overhearing plans for his execution. Members of the
Papuan Customary Council trekked for two days to reach his hideout and record
the testimony, which was delivered to the National Commission on Human Rights in
The Indonesian military claims that they cannot identify the
soldiers who tortured him because their faces were concealed in the video. But
Yosep Adi Prasetyo, the deputy chairman of the National Commission, says that is
a lie. "We identified them. They are from the battalion 753, from Nabiree."
Others in the military have repeatedly insisted that the matter was
dealt with by the earlier court-martial. While allegations of torture at the
hands of the military and police in Papua are not new, the video of Kiwo's
torture was the first to have been broadcast on the internet and shown in the
A team from the Human Rights Commission is scheduled
to travel to Papua this month to collect more evidence. Yosep says they will
also investigate claims that a tribal leader was beheaded and a woman raped
during a military campaign in March this year. Yudhoyono was also in Papua last
week but there was no suggestion the case or the prosecution of the perpetrators
was on his agenda. Repeated attempts to contact a presidential spokesperson were
As for Anggen Pugu Kiwo, he remains in hiding, deep
in the Papuan jungle. He says the torture has caused permanent damage to his
body, but he is grateful to be alive.
This article was first broadcast on Asia
Calling, a regional current affairs radio program produced by Indonesia's
independent radio news agency KBR68H and broadcast in local languages in 10
countries across Asia. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at www.asiacalling.org.
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