Seven Papuans are arrested and tortured on false allegations of having a relationship with pro-independence activists

By Asian Human Rights Commission

Urgent Action report

19 February 2013

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the arbitrary arrest and torture of seven Papuans which took place on 15 February 2013. The victims were driving home in two cars when the police stopped them as they were looking for two pro-independence activists. The victims were later brought to the police station where they were further questioned on the whereabouts of the activists. They were severely beaten, kicked and electrocuted before being five of them were released without charge the next day. However, as at the time of writing two of the victims remain in police custody.


According to interviews and fact gathering conducted by local activists, including Yasons Sambom, on 15 February 2013 at 9am, a silver painted car stopped Daniel Gobay, Arsel Kobak and Eneko Pahabol who were driving on their way home from Depapre to Doprena. Five police officers, one of whom was identified as Iptu Beduh Rahman, got out of the silver-painted car and pointed their weapons at Daniel, Arsel and Eneko. The police then ordered the three men to crawl on their stomachs to Depapre Sub-District Police Station which is approximately 30 metres away from the place where they were stopped. (Picture 1: Eneko Pahabol, source: local activist).

An hour after they arrived at Depapre Sub-District Police Station, Daniel, Arsel and Eneko were taken to Jayapura District Police Station. The police started questioning three of them on the whereabouts of Terianus Satto and Sebby Sambom, two pro-independence activists whom Daniel, Arsel and Eneko do not have any relationship with. Eneko Pahabol told the local activists that he was repeatedly kicked in his face by officers who were wearing police boots. The officers kicked him both in his left and right knees which caused them to bleed. Eneko and his friends were also beaten with a rattan stick as well as being electrocuted on their legs. The police officers pressed the barrels of their guns to their heads, forced them into their mouths and ears. Arsel Kobak told the AHRC that he was asked to take his clothes off and kicked on his head, face and back by the police officers. As a result, his mouth and nose were bleeding, his forehead was wounded and he is now experiencing hearing difficulties.

On the same day at around 10am, the police separately stopped another car which was carrying Yosafat Satto, Salim Yaru, Matan Klembiap and Obed Bahabol. As with Daniel, Arsel and Eneko, they were also stopped by police officers in a silver-painted car in Depapre on their way home. The police officers were wearing civilian clothes and carrying Pindad SS-1 assault rifles which they pointed at Yosafat and his friends. They firstly took Yosafat, Salim, Matan and Obed to Depapre Police Station but later moved them to Jayapura District Police Station. As they arrived at Jayapura District Police Station, Yosafat and his friends were ordered to take their clothes off before the police officers started beating and electrocuting them. The officers also pressed their guns to the heads of Yosafat, Salim, Matan and Obed and asked whether they know anything about the whereabouts of Terianus Satto and Sebby Sambom. None of them know Terianus and Sebby Sambom so Yosafat as well as his three other friends told the police that they do not know anything, an answer that made the officers tortured them even more severely. The officers kicked, beat them with rattan sticks on their backs until they were bleeding, as well as electrocuted them in the face. (Picture 2: Yosafat Satto, source: local activist)

Obed Bahabol told the local activists that they later were interrogated separately and he was the first person to be questioned by a police officer. The police officer jammed the barrel of his gun to his mouth so forcefully that his tooth was broken. The officer also repeatedly beat Obed on his forehead that it was bleeding because Obed told the police that he had no idea on the whereabouts of Sebby Sambom. (Picture 3: Obed Bahabol, source: local activist).

On the next day on 16 February 2013, five of the seven arrested persons were released without charge. As the time of writing, Daniel Gobay and Matan Klembiap are still detained in the police custody, allegedly for possessing bladed articles. However, the charge and their reason of detention are still subject to clarification. Neither Daniel nor Matan has any legal representation as of the time of writing.


In his report in 2008, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment highlighted that torture is practised widely across Indonesia, including Papua. In 2010, for instance, the AHRC released a video online which depicts military officers brutally torturing an indigenous Papua. Last year, the AHRC also issued an urgent appeal on the torture of 42 prisoners and detainees by prison authorities at Abepura Correctional Facility.

Despite the abuse took place, little have been done by the Indonesian authorities to make sure the perpetrators are punished proportionately to provide justice for the victims. Military officers who were responsible torturing a Papuan on the video in 2010 were sentenced only to 9-12 months imprisonment while the allegation on torture at Abepura Correctional Facility has never been investigated by the police.

Indonesia has been a state party to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment since 1998. Torture is not yet a crime under the country’s legal system that state officials who conducted such abuse are usually unpunished or charged with provisions on assault under the Penal Code whose punishment do not reflect the gravity of the act. For example, the Muaro Sijunjung District Court recently sentenced four police officers responsible for the torture and death of two minors only to 18 months to three years imprisonment.

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