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No Comment From McCully on Papua Torture Video

No Comment From McCully on Papua Torture Video

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced the launch of an Indonesia-New Zealand ‘Friendship Council’ just days after the release of a video which shows Indonesian soldiers torturing priests in West Papua.

The video released by West Papua Media and published on Pacific Scoop on Monday appears to show Indonesian soldiers kicking, punching and using bayonets to threaten two West Papuan priests.

The footage also appears to show soldiers pinning one of the priests to the ground and burning his penis with a charred stick. [WARNING: link features real and graphic violence]

McCully left for the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Tuesday night for trade talks, but a spokesperson for the minister could not confirm whether he had been briefed on the situation.

The New Zealand-based Indonesia Human Rights Committee says it wrote to Foreign Minister Murray McCully Tuesday to demand that he seek an explanation from the Indonesian government and end military ties immediately.

McCully’s press secretary said the minister left for Indonesia before the letter arrived and it was uncertain whether MFAT officials had discussed it with him.

But Committee spokesperson Marie Leadbeater said she would be surprised if they had not briefed him even before the letter.

The footage had gone around the world, she said.

“Al Jazeera’s picked up on it and they’re having a demonstration in London and it’s been in the Aussie papers and Aussie radio.

“It’s absolutely a major; all the other western governments are having to comment on it – the Australian foreign minister and so on.”

She said the news was especially shocking because the New Zealand government had put so much effort into training Indonesian police in West Papua.

“I think in the context of what happened, it’s really abysmal stuff.”

Leadbeater said McCully needed to demand an explanation as the video showed grave human rights violation.

“It’s contrary to every international law on torture and anything else so he should certainly be demanding an explanation on that.

“I think any government in the world has a right to that because it is such a grievous abuse of international human rights.”

The Government also needed to immediately dissolve military ties, she said, as it sent the wrong message.

“There has been democratic reform in Indonesia but there hasn’t been reform of the military.“

But Leadbeater said she did not object to McCully’s ‘Friendship Council’ as trade was a separate sphere.

McCully and his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa announced the launch of an Indonesia-New Zealand Friendship Council earlier this morning.

McCully said in a press release the Council brought together key individuals in Indonesia “who will use their influence to help strengthen our bilateral relationship.”

Indonesia annexed the western half of Papua New Guinea in 1963 and remain under the terms of a heavily disputed 1969 referendum.

Papuan nationalist movements are outlawed and have reported ongoing civilian killings and human rights violations by the Indonesian authorities since 1970.

Indonesia is New Zealand’s eighth largest trading partner.


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