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Indonesia: Stop Stalling on Investigating Torture Video

Indonesia: Stop Stalling on Investigating Torture Video Episode Papuan Farmer Describes Days of Abuse by Soldiers (New York, November 22, 2010) – The Indonesian government should use the newly available video testimony of a torture victim to mount a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the episode, Human Rights Watch said today. The torture of Tunaliwor Kiwo, a Papuan farmer, and his neighbor, was recorded with a mobile phone on May 30, 2010, and the video came to light in October. Kiwo recounted the details of his torture in videotaped testimony only made public in recent days.

Soldiers arrested Kiwo and Telangga Gire on May 30 in Papua’s Puncak Jaya regency. In a 10-minute video of the torture session, soldiers are seen kicking Kiwo’s face and chest, burning his face with a cigarette, applying burning wood to his penis, and placing a knife to Gire’s neck. In the newly available videotaped testimony, Kiwo describes that torture and details other forms of torture he suffered for two more days before he escaped from the soldiers on June 2. Soldiers also tortured Gire, who was finally released after interventions by his wife and mother. The government has promised to investigate, but claims it cannot identify the perpetrators.

“Once again, the authorities are sitting on their hands rather than fulfilling their obligations and proactively identifying and prosecuting the soldiers responsible,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division. “Kiwo has shown tremendous bravery in coming forward – he deserves justice and protection from retaliation, not another half-hearted army investigation and cover-up.”

Indonesia is a party in the United Nations Convention Against Torture and has strict obligations to investigate and prosecute promptly all incidents of torture and to ensure that victims and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of filing a complaint or giving evidence.

Kiwo said in his testimony that he and Gire had been riding a motorcycle from their hometown, Tingginambut, to Mulia, the capital of Puncak Jaya, when soldiers stopped them at a military checkpoint in Kwanggok Nalime, Yogorini. Kiwo said that soldiers seized and hit them, bound their arms with rope, dragged them to the back of the army post, and tied their feet with barbed wire. He said the soldiers tortured him for three days, beating him with their hands and sticks, crushing his toes with pliers, suffocating him with plastic bags, burning his genitals and other body parts, cutting his face and head and smearing the wounds with chilies, and using other forms of abuse.

Kiwo’s videotaped testimony with subtitles in English and Indonesian can be viewed on the Engage Media website.

“The Indonesian government at the highest levels should guarantee that Tunaliwor Kiwo and Telangga Gire will be protected from retaliation and considered witnesses to crimes,” Robertson said. “The testimony of these two men will be critically important in prosecuting the soldiers who tortured them, so protecting them needs to be a top priority.”

The October media coverage of the May 30 torture video prompted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to hold a limited cabinet meeting on October 22, after which the coordinating security minister, Marshall Djoko Suyanto, admitted that the video showed Indonesian soldiers torturing Papuan villagers. Yudhoyono reportedly ordered the military to investigate immediately, but the government has provided no information about the progress of the investigation.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) estimates that as many as 50 civilians have been killed in the area since the Indonesian military and police began military operations there last year.

Representatives of the Papuan Customary Council provided the video of Kiwo’s testimony to the National Commission on Human Rights on November 5. The Commission set up a team to investigate the torture episode as well as other human rights abuses alleged to have occurred in Puncak Jaya. The Commission has scheduled a trip to Papua to investigate further, though an earlier visit in late October to investigate the Kiwo-Gire torture video was frustrated by a lack of access and cooperation from military and local officials.

Unexpectedly, Maj. Gen. Hotma Marbun, the Indonesian military commander in Papua, was removed from his post on November 12. It was announced as a “routine transfer” even though Marbun had only been in Papua since January. Human Rights Watch has no information indicating that this transfer is punitive or connected in any way with the torture video. His replacement, Brig. Gen. Erfi Triassunu, should ensure that investigations in the torture case are carried out thoroughly and impartially, and that army officials under his command fully cooperate, Human Rights Watch said.

“Changing military commanders will not root out impunity,” Robertson said. “The victims deserve justice. The Indonesian military and police in Papua should fully cooperate with investigators from the National Commission on Human Rights.”

To view the videotaped testimony of Tunaliwor Kiwo, please visit: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1011/S00200/video-testimony-of-kiwo-subtitle-english.htm

To view the videotaped torture of Tingginambut men (Papua), please visit:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1011/S00202/torture-of-tingginambut-men-papua-english-subtitles.htm

To read the October 2010 Human Rights Watch news release “Indonesia: Investigate Torture Video From Papua,”please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/10/20/indonesia-investigate-torture-video-papua

To read the June 2010 Human Rights Watch report “Prosecuting Political Aspiration: Indonesia’s Political Prisoners,”please visit :
http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/06/23/prosecuting-political-aspiration-0

ENDS

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