Saturday, December 4, 2010

West Papua deserves Barack Obama's attention
If East Timor-like horrors are to be avoided, Barack Obama and the west must not ignore abuses by Indonesian security forces
Dominic Brown, Monday 15 November 2010 17.59 GMT
Article history

An independence rally that took place last week in the city of Manokwari in West Papua to coincide with Obama's trip to Indonesia. Photograph: West Papua Media Alerts

In his autobiography Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama recalls a conversation with his stepfather who had just returned home after a tour of duty with the Indonesian military in West Papua. On asking him: "Have you ever seen a man killed?", his stepfather recounted the bloody death of "weak" men.

Last month, video footage circulated online showing members of the Indonesian security forces brutally torturing Papuan civilians, including burning the genitals of an elderly farmer. It seems as far as West Papua is concerned, some things never change.

Earlier this year, the US administration announced the re-establishment of military ties with Indonesia's Kopassus special forces – the same forces implicated in the atrocities of East Timor. Leaked Kopassus documents released last week, have heightened fears that Indonesia's claims of military reform – a condition of the US deal – are without foundation. The documents show that Kopassus continue to engage in "murder and abduction" and include a target list of "enemies of the Indonesian state", including West Papuan church leaders, political and student activists.

Last year I travelled to West Papua to film an undercover documentary about the independence struggle. I found a land where the remnants of the Suharto era very much live on into the modern day – far from the image of democracy that Obama painted in his speech to the Indonesian nation.
Jakarta under pressure to prosecute torture troops
Tom Allard, Jakarta
December 4, 2010

A scene from the torture video that has sparked calls for action.

AUSTRALIA and the US have urged Indonesia to bring to justice soldiers who tortured two Papuan men in May, pressuring Indonesia to meet its commitment to reforming its military.

Ambassadors from the two countries - which share a close security relationship with Indonesia - have raised the issue in the past week or so in response to a farcical investigation into the torture, which was captured on video and revealed by The Age.

The video depicts Indonesian soldiers repeatedly burning the genitals of a Papuan man while he cries in pain.
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After the video surfaced, before a visit by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and US President Barack Obama, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised that the perpetrators would face trial.

Four soldiers were soon court-martialled and sentenced to between five and seven months in prison. But it emerged that the men were on trial for an earlier and far less serious incident in which unarmed Papuans were kicked and hit with a helmet.

The investigation into the video has since stalled, with some senior Indonesian military officials continuing to claim that those imprisoned were involved in the torture.

Military Continues Crackdown in Indonesian Papua
Nivell Rayda & Banjir Ambarita | December 02, 2010

Jakarta. At least one person has been reportedly killed in raids in Papua as the military steps up its search for members of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM), which marked its 45th anniversary on Wednesday.

Markus Haluk, a member of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP), the largest nongovernmental organization in Papua and West Papua, told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday that Wendiman Wenda, a 55-year-old farmer, was killed outside his house.

He said that Wendiman was shot while working in his garden in Yambi village, Puncak Jaya district, on Sunday, shortly after returning from church.

“The military was patrolling the area and assumed he was an OPM member,” he said. “Wendiman was not a separatist. He was just a farmer.”

A neighbor, Piron Moribnak, said the soldiers had shot Wendiman from a distance.

“They called out to him, but he was hard of hearing and they were a ways off, so of course he didn’t hear them and he didn’t respond,” he said. “That’s when they opened fire.”

Neither the Puncak Jaya Police nor military officials in Papua could be reached for comment.

In Wamena district, the West Papua Media Alerts Web site reported that two people had been killed in a similar raid there on Thursday. However, Markus said the two had survived but were in critical condition.

“We’re still trying to gather more information on the two incidents because both areas are so remote,” he said.

The two men reportedly shot in Wamena have been identified as Asili Wenda and Elius Tabuni.

Lemok Mabel, chairman of the DAP’s Baliem Valley chapter in Wamena, said neither man was an OPM member or sympathizer.

Adj. Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumek Jaya, chief of the Jayawijaya subprecinct police in Wamena, denied there had been a shooting in the area on Thursday.
Australian Government Urges Yudhoyono to Ensure Papua Torture Case Resolved: Report
December 03, 2010

Jakarta. In what one Australian media outlet is describing as an “embarrassing diplomatic tangle,” Australia’s Ambassador Greg Moriarty to Indonesia was ordered to raise concerns directly with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono about Indonesia’s stalled investigation into the alleged torture of two Papuans by the military.

ABC Radio, on its Web site, reported that the Australian government raised concerns about an investigation by the Indonesian Military (TNI), which has failed to hold anyone accountable for the shocking incident in which five soldiers were caught on tape torturing two men.

A spokesperson for Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard told ABC that she was “concerned that there be a full and transparent investigation” and will “continue to make our expectations regarding this issue clear with the Indonesian government.”