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3 Indonesian Soldiers Seen In Video Torturing 2 Papuan Men On Trial
Just For Disobeying Orders
By IRWAN FIRDAUS
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Jan 14 (AP) – Three Indonesian soldiers accused of
torturing two men from the restive eastern region of Papua have gone
on trial for the relatively minor charges of disobeying orders,
prosecutors said Friday.
A video circulated widely on the Internet late last year showed
security forces burning the genitals of one suspected separatist and
running a knife across the neck of another, sparking an international
In a rare acknowledgment of military abuses, the Indonesian government
issued a statement soon after, promising justice would be served.
But in a military tribunal that started Thursday in the Papuan capital
of Jayapura, the three soldiers captured on video were slapped with
the relatively minor charge of disobeying orders, which carries a
maximum penalty of 30 months in prison.
Prosecutors said the men escaped more serious charges because — aside
from the video — there was no physical evidence of wrongdoing and the
two Papuan victims refused to submit statements to the court.
Human rights activists called the tribunal a sham, while the United
States urged the Indonesian government to honor its commitment to
investigate and prosecute abuses by its troops.
Haris Azhar, chairman of the Jakarta-based Commission for Missing
Persons and Victims of Violence, said it showed that allegations of
military abuse were once again being whitewashed.
“How is this fair?” he asked. “As far as we can tell, there wasn’t
even an investigation.”
“This process will serve no justice at all for the victims,” Azhar
said, adding that the victims were afraid to testify because there was
no guarantee they would be protected.
The tribunal was adjourned Thursday until next week.
Indonesia, a nation of more than 237 million people, has made
tremendous strides toward democracy since former dictator Suharto was
ousted just over a decade ago, but it remains highly sensitive to
ongoing separatist struggles in Papua and the Molucca islands.
Security forces are accused of abusing both civilians and suspected
The United States, which last year lifted a decade-old ban on military
assistance to a notoriously violent Indonesian commando unit, promised
Thursday to closely monitor the trials.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said it would hold
Indonesia to its commitments to investigate rights abuses and take
Indonesia 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