Tag Archives: al jazeera

West Papua torture victim speaks out

Report by Al Jazeera
Three Indonesian soldiers have appeared before a military tribunal in eastern Papua province to face charges over the alleged torture of Papuan civilians, which was captured on video.

Friday’s trial comes days ahead of a visit by Barack Obama, the US president, who seeks to resume ties with Indonesia.

The footage, posted online by human rights activists, showed soldiers applying a burning stick to the genitals of one of the unarmed men and threatening another with a knife.

The three defendants are from an infantry unit based in the city of Nabire in Papua province. Two other soldiers were called to appear as witnesses.

The graphic video drew international attention to allegations of widespread torture and abuse of activists and civilians in restive Indonesian regions such as Papua and the Maluku islands.

Victim speaks out

Al Jazeera has obtained a secretly filmed interview with Tunaliwor Kiwo, one of the torture victims who now lives in hiding in one of the most isolated areas in Papua.

Kiwo was burned with hot wires and cigarettes, repeatedly suffocated with a plastic bag and had a concoction of chili and salt rubbed into his open wounds.

“I kept screaming. But they didn’t care of the pain I suffered,” he was quoted as saying in the interview.

“The TNI (military) put gasoline and lit a fire and I was in the middle with the branches,” he said.

“I couldn’t move, the flames were approaching me, trying to burn my body and my legs and hands were still tied up. I was continuously hysterical, in pain.”

The incident occurred earlier this year in an area of Papua where Indonesian troops frequently clash with poorly armed separatist rebels from the indigenous Melanesian majority.

Rights groups including Amnesty International have called on Indonesia to punish the culprits and end an entrenched culture of impunity in the country’s security forces.

“From the beginning we have been demanding an independent investigation,” Marcus Haluk, a Papuan student leader, told Al Jazeera.

“The military can’t investigate a soldier. It would be like a thief investigating a thief,” he said.

Mending ties

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, said on Monday there was “no immunity” for members of the country’s armed forces, ahead of talks in Jakarta with Julia Gillard, the visiting Australian prime minister.

Marty Natalegawa, the Indonesian foreign minister, told Al Jazeera that Indonesia has put the soldiers on trial “not because some government is knocking on our door, or because someone is telling us what to do”.

“We have taken the lead [in the investigation],” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, said that the testimony of the soldiers will further embarrass the Indonesian government.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reporting on the torture of Papuan civilians

“It is just a few days ahead of president Obama’s visit. Never before [has] a military trial [been] held this fast,” she said.

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, met Yudhoyono in Jakarta in July and announced the US would lift a 12-year suspension of contacts with the Indonesian special forces as a result of “recent actions… to address human rights issues”.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, reportedly refused to comment on the specific torture allegations during a brief visit on Wednesday to Papua New Guinea, the independent eastern half of New Guinea island.

Indonesia incorporated the resource-rich but desperately poor western half of New Guinea in the 1960s after a UN-backed tribal vote, which separatists condemn as a sham.

Few Indonesian military officers have faced justice for rights abuses dating back decades, including alleged crimes against humanity in East Timor and the killing of thousands of political activists during the Suharto dictatorship.

Papua and the Malukus have underground separatist movements, which Indonesia regards as threats to its territorial unity.

Activists are regularly given lengthy jail terms for crimes such as possessing outlawed rebel flags.

Al-Jazeera: Papua floods may fuel tensions

NOTE: Westpapuamedia.info apologize for lack of sourced original coverage, we have been working directly with international news agencies to assist in their coverage.  We are still trying to get West Papuan voices to tell their own story.  If you have any local coverage, please contact us info<at>westpapuamedia.info

Repost of http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2010/10/2010106124332102360.html

Papua floods may fuel tensions

Disaster in West Papua could add to local grievances as aid workers struggle to reach the affected areas.
Yasmine Ryan Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 18:03 GMT
Displaced Papuans from Wasior who, like hundreds of others, have sought shelter in Manokwari [AFP]

Relief workers say they are struggling to reach West Papuans hit by heavy flooding in the Indonesian province.

Criticisms over tardy relief effort are already beginning to emerge from the region, where relations between the indigenous Papuans and the Indonesian state have long been difficult.

There are fears that a failure to address the humanitarian crisis could add to tensions over the recent killings of indigenous Papuan protesters by the Indonesian security forces in the towns of Wamena and Manokwari.

Denny Yomaki, a humanitarian NGO worker, told Radio New Zealand International on Thursday that some of the flood’s victims felt the state was not doing enough to assist them.

Aid workers told Al Jazeera the damage from the landslides has made it hard to reach the worst hit areas.

Hundreds have fled or been evacuated from the devastated seaside town of Wasior to seek shelter in Manokwari, the province’s capital. Most are staying with extended family or in makeshift shelters on a military base, Ridwan, a member of the disaster management team for the PMI (Indonesian Red Cross), told Al Jazeera.

“The current situation is very difficult, it’s very difficult to reach Waisor,” Ridwan said.

Red Cross barred

Ridwan said that the conflict was not affecting his organisation’s relief efforts in West Papua, but the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is restricted from working in the province, even in the aftermath of the recent disaster.

It was forced to close its West Papua branch in April 2009, but is providing funding to the PMI’s response to the flooding.

“We are not actively present in the area for the present,” Patrick Megevand, the spokesperson for the ICRC’s Indonesia delegation, told Al Jazeera.

The government told A Jazeera it had dedicated 200 million rupiah ($22,000) to the relief efforts following the flooding, which left at least 91 people dead and and more than 800 others injured, many of them suffering broken bones.

Maman, an officer at the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB), said the government had sent tents, food and medical supplies to Wondama Bay, along with army, police, technicians and medical workers. A navy boat and three cargo ships have already set off for the area.

The flooding comes at a time when calls for independence for West Papua and Papua are growing, especially in the wake of heightened US interest in the provinces. Indigenous Papuan leaders say that the “special autonomy” status granted by Indonesia in 2001 has been a farce.

Nick Chesterfield of West Papua Media told Al Jazeera that if the aid were felt to be insufficeint by those living in the stricken villages there is a risk it would enflame the tensions between the indigenous Melanesian populations and Indonesian security forces.

West Papua has already been hit by two major earthquakes this year and the government-led relief efforts were “very slow,” Chesterfield said.

He also warned that the aid effort could be compromised by anger over two separate incidents in which the police have killed local residents in recent weeks.

Police killings

The latest alleged killing was in Wamena, a town in West Papua’s highlands, just days ago.

Local authorities there have established the unarmed peacekeeping force, known as Balim Petapa, “to keep away the Indonesian police, their proxies and militias,” Chesterfield explained.

Violence broke out after a group of people from the force confronted police at the Wamena North airport to demand an explanation for the seizure of a box of berets – their uniforms – along with 40 million Rupiah ($4,468) in cash.

In the other incident, a priest, his wife and son were shot by Indonesian police in the city of Manokwari, which is close to the flooded areas.

Reverend Naftali Kuan, his wife Antomina Kuan and their 23-year-old son Setinus were shot by police on September 15 as locals protested a hit-and-run road accident by a member of the security forces, who fled to police headquarters after accidently running down an elderly Papuan woman on his motorbike.

In the days after the shootings, thousands of protestors took to the streets. Indonesian soldiers were sent in to quell the demonstrations.

“Manokawri has been one of the hotbeds for independence for years,” Chesterfield said. “If the Indonesian army doesn’t put down its guns and pick up its shovels, there’s going to be a lot of tensions there.”

Al Jazeera and agencies
At least 75 people have been killed and many are missing after flash floods and mudslides hit mountainous villages. ( 06-Oct-2010 )

Al Jazeera report on the death of West Papua tribal leader

Al Jazeera

The issue of Papuan independence has been thrown into the spotlight with the controversial death of an activist.

Graphic mobile phone footage of Yawan Wayeni’s final moments is being circulated on the internet.

It shows Indonesian police officers taunting him as he lies dying from the gunshot wounds they had inflicted upon him.

Al Jazeera’s Step Vassen reports from Jakarta.

*The video contains disturbing images*