A grisly video showing Indonesian security forces torturing suspected separatists in Papua province — burning the genitals of one and running a knife across the neck of another — has sparked public outcry.
MSNBC For many in the young democracy, the images were a reminder of the dark days of former dictator Suharto, who often used the military and police to stifle dissent, especially in far-flung regions with aspirations of independence.
Stories about the video made headlines in local newspapers Tuesday and expressions of anger filled commentary pages.
“It was shocking, every scene was barbaric,” said Haris Azhar of the human rights group, Kontras, “The government has to find out who is behind such violence in Papua and bring them to court.”
Although the population of Papua only constitutes about 0.01% of the world’s population, it contains an amazing 15% of the world’s known languages! The citizens belong to about 312 tribes including some uncontacted peoples. 1 As a result of past Dutch colonial rule, most of the people follow either Aboriginal or Christian religions:
INDIGENOUS RELIGION: 34%
ROMAN CATHOLIC: 22%
PROTESTANTS (Lutheran): 16%
OTHER PROTESTANTS: 28%
Under Indonesian occupation, the Papuan people have endured 40 years of genocide, bloodshed, rape, torture, intimidation and suffering. An elderly Papuan tribal woman lays dying after being shot by Indonesian military following a raid on her village.
The body of one of the victims, Werius Selenggen, was found near a river in late 2009 soon after security forces were caught on tape interrogating the 38-year-old in the mountainous village of Puncak Jaya, said Matius Murib, of the National Commission on Human Rights.
When Selenggen said he didn’t know anything about a hidden stash of weapons, one man threatened to shoot him in the mouth with a rifle and another poked at his genitals with a burning stick, causing him to scream in agony.
A third smashed a cigarette out in his face.
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country with more than 237 million people, took over Papua from the Dutch in 1963 and formalized its sovereignty six years later through a stage-managed vote by about 1,000 community leaders.
Human rights groups say more than 100,000 people — a fifth of the impoverished province’s population — have died as result of military action.
“The video is in two parts. The first shows military officers who have caught some villagers. They hit them, kick them and ask them to give names of separatists,” the group’s executive director Wong Kai Shing told Reuters by phone.
“In the second part, we see two people being tortured. One has a knife on his neck and in another scene, an interrogator tried to burn another man’s penis with a burning stick.”
Wong said the footage, which was taken in West Papua province, featured uniformed officers and showed that there was a culture of impunity within security forces.
Indonesian soldiers cannot be tried in civilian courts and military courts give only lenient sentences, he said.
Shocking images of Indonesian military sweeping operations against West Papuan civilians.
Free West Papua Indonesia is committing crimes against humanity in West Papua. Indonesia is killing, raping, torturing and imprisoning anyone that calls for independence.
Photographs have emerged of the brutal extrajudicial murder of civilians in Mulia, Puncak Jaya regency during a sweep by a joint Indonesian military (TNI) and BRIMOB police patrol. A brief text message arrived from unknown source said the killings were of civilians as a result of a sweep against alleged TPN/OPM members, and that the bodies were deliberately mutilated, burnt and hidden to prevent identification.