In the wake of Barack Obama’s visit to Indonesia, a video has emerged showing the torture of helpless detainees in the restive territory of West Papua. Rights groups are describing the footage as “Indonesia’s Abu Ghraib,” and say it raises serious questions about the Obama administration’s decision to embrace cooperation with the Indonesian security forces. The video is the second in recent months to offer graphic footage of Indonesian security force torture of Papuans.
In the video, 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!”
While Indonesia is generally moving towards democratization, West Papua appears on the opposite path: towards ongoing military domination, widespread suppression of political activity, routine use of torture and other severe violations of basic human rights. Rights observers say that in West Papua, the 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 intimidated, and the international community is precluded from any effective monitoring. (ETAN, Oct. 19)
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