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Indonesia: 'slap on wrist' for soldiers guilty of torture

25 January, 2011

NZ must speak out against 'slap on wrist' sentences for Indonesian soldiers guilty of torture

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is deeply shocked at the light 'slap on the wrist' sentences just handed down to the three soldiers who have admitted responsibility for the brutal torture of two Papuan farmers. IHRC is calling on Foreign Minister Murray McCully to make a strong protest to the Indonesian authorities as this outcome shows blatant disrespect to the victims, the Papuan people and international law. IHRC also renews it call on the New Zealand government to suspend its defence training ties with Indonesia.

"Minister McCully has a strong responsibility to act because he was given assurances that the matter would not be swept under the carpet when he met with Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalegawa in Jakarta last year,'said Maire Leadbeater speaking for IHRC.

The sadistic and prolonged abuse[1] was caught on video and was widely circulated on 'YouTube' last October. In the YouTube segment one of the victims has his genitals repeatedly burnt with a fiery stick while the other has a plastic bag placed over his head.

'Sentences of only between 10 and 8 months for these perpetrators are not just. The men were only charged with disobeying orders' and were tried in a military court which cannot be considered impartial. They are even free to continue with their careers.'

"It adds insult to injury that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has publicly stated that the offences were a 'minor matter' and even complained because of the extent of international attention given to the case.'

This shocking travesty of justice is a further indication of the lack of reform and ongoing impunity in Indonesia's security forces. New Zealand was wrong to resume defence training ties with Indonesia in 2007 and these ties should now be suspended.

For further information: Maire Leadbeater ;

25 January, 2011

Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

Dear Murray McCully,

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is deeply shocked at the light 'slap on the wrist' sentences just handed down to the three soldiers who have admitted responsibility for the brutal torture of two Papuan farmers.

The perpetrators were given light sentences given of only between 10 and 8 months. They were only charged with disobeying orders and were tried in a military court which cannot be considered impartial. They are even free to continue with their careers. This is a travesty of justice

We urge you to make a strong protest to the Indonesian authorities as this outcome shows blatant disrespect to the victims, the Papuan people and international law. We recall; that during your visit to Jakarta Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalegawa assured you that this shocking episode would be fully and transparently dealt with.

We believe that this unjust outcome is a further indication that the Indonesian military has not undergone democratic reform and that the culture of impunity remains entrenched. New Zealand was wrong to resume defence training ties with Indonesia in 2007 and these ties should now be suspended.

The 'YouTube' video showed one of the victims having his s genitals repeatedly burnt with a fiery stick while his companion has a plastic bag placed over his head. Tunaliwor Kiwo , one of the victims has since given video testimony that he was tortured for two days, by being beaten, held over a burning fire and by having a concoction of chillies and detergent rubbed into his wounds.

We believe it is outrageous that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has publicly stated that the offences were a 'minor matter' and even complained because of the extent of international attention given to the case.

We look forward to hearing from you about this distressing matter and to learning the details of New Zealand's response.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater (for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee)

ENDS

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