Tag Archives: ballon raising

Fairfax:Anti-terror unit deals out own terror

Anti-terror unit deals out own terror
Tom Allard, Maluku
September 13, 2010

Reposting as WPMA were fixers

Ambonese prisoners claim they have been tortured and beaten by Detachment 88, Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism unit funded and trained by Australia. See video at http://www.theage.com.au/national/antiterror-unit-deals-out-own-terror-20100912-15702.html

AUSTRALIA has sent an official to the Indonesian province of Maluku to investigate claims that Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism unit, Detachment 88, which Australia and the US train and fund, brutalised a group of separatists last month, repeatedly beating and abusing them in detention

The alleged serious mistreatment of political activists in the Indonesian province comes as it emerged that, in May 2008, the US secretly banned members of Detachment 88 in Maluku from receiving assistance.

The Age has also learned that the Australian government is ”aware and concerned” about the activities of the Detachment 88 officers, sending an official to Ambon, Maluku’s capital, to investigate two weeks ago.

But human rights activists argue the response from the donor nations is inadequate because the abuses of peaceful protesters, which were first documented in late 2007, continue.

About 12 activists were arrested in early August and taken to the Detachment 88 office in Tantui, a suburb of Ambon, where they say they were subject to mistreatment both brutal and bizarre, an investigation by The Age has revealed.

The arrests occurred after police and intelligence officers foiled a plot to float dozens of banned flags and other political material attached on helium-filled balloons across Ambon when Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and foreign guests were in town for the Sail Banda regatta.

Seven of the prisoners smuggled out recorded statements, while another activist was interviewed while recuperating from a fractured hip. He was handcuffed to his bed in hospital.

All said they were blindfolded and then hit around the head and body by the police officers during interrogation, sometimes with wooden sticks and bars or while forced to hold painful stress positions.

Police allegedly jumped on the prisoners, burned them with cigarettes, pierced them with nails, and brought them to the point of suffocation with plastic bags placed over their heads.

One said he was forced to eat raw chillies, while two said they were ordered to hug and kiss each other and beaten when they refused. ”We were all tortured beyond limit and, during the torture, if we mentioned the name of the Lord Jesus, we would be punched and slapped,” said Yusuf Sahetapy, one of the prisoners.

A spokesman for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to confirm or deny whether Australia had, or would, institute a ban on Detachment 88 officers like the US, saying the department would not comment on individual members of the unit.

‘The Australian government is aware of, and concerned by, the allegations of brutality towards political prisoners,” the spokesman said. ”We will continue to monitor the situation and make representations as necessary.”

Detachment 88’s commander, Tito Karnavian, said the unit in Maluku was not under his control, and referred inquiries to local police.

The director of criminal investigations in Maluku, Jhonny Siahaan, said ”no violent act was ever used during the investigation. All the people arrested are doing fine. None with broken bones, all healthy, none hospitalised. It is our department doing it, not Detachment 88.”

But The Age interviewed one of the prisoners, Yonias Siahaya, in hospital, where he was recuperating from a fractured hip and was handcuffed to his bed. Mr Sahetapy also said he spent two days in hospital, before returning to detention and more beatings.

The Age also obtained one of the arrest warrants for the men, which is signed by Dwight Jordan de Fretes, who is identified as acting commander of Detachment 88 in Maluku.

Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia of Human Rights Watch, said the allegations of torture by Detachment 88 have been consistent and detailed for three years, and Australia and the US needed to pressure the Indonesian government.

”Detachment 88 should be investigated by an independent body. The international donors should press very hard and consider suspending or limiting assistance,” he said. ”This kind of torture is a damning indictment of the Indonesian government … and of those who support Detachment 88.”

Related articles

Protesters tortured, beaten and humiliated by elite force http://www.theage.com.au/world/protesters-tortured-beaten-and-humiliated-by-elite-force-20100912-156y9.htm
Evidence is building that Detachment 88, which Australia and the US train and fund, is out of control.

Crack unit created after Bali attack
http://www.theage.com.au/world/crack-unit-created-after-bali-attack-20100912-156y8.html

Special Detachment 88, or Densus 88, is a crack Indonesian counter-terrorism unit that many Indonesians admire for its success in hunting down terrorists and preventing attacks.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: End criminalization of peaceful political activities in Maluku

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Public statement

AI Index: ASA 21/017/2010
19 August 2010

INDONESIA: End criminalization of peaceful political activities in Maluku

The decision to charge at least 22 political activists in Maluku for “rebellion” once again highlights the failure of the Indonesian government to distinguish between armed groups and peaceful political activists. Amnesty International urges the Indonesian government to release immediately and unconditionally the activists, who are all men, if they have been arrested solely for their peaceful political activities.

On 13 August 2010 the Maluku police announced that they were planning to charge the political activists with “rebellion” against the state (makar) under Articles 106 and 110 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code (KUHP, Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum Pidana). The police pointed to evidence which included possession of dozens of “Benang Raja” flags, a symbol of the South Maluku independence; Republic of South Maluku (RMS) membership cards; and photos and stickers of the independence flag.

According to local sources, the activists were planning to use the visit of Indonesia’s President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to Maluku in early August as an opportunity to disseminate materials related to alleged human rights violations there, including posters calling for the release of political prisoners in Maluku arrested for their peaceful political activism.

Amnesty International is also concerned about their safety in custody, as detained political activists are known to have been tortured and ill-treated in Maluku. The authorities must ensure that the men are allowed access to legal counsel of their choosing, their families and any medical treatment that they may require.

Background

The Republic of South Maluku (RMS), an armed pro-independence movement, officially ended in Maluku with the execution of its leader by the Indonesian authorities in 1966. However, some villagers continue to raise the “Benang Raja” flag there as a peaceful political act of protest against the central government.

Amnesty International has documented dozens of arrests in past years of political activists who have peacefully called for independence, particularly in areas where there has been a history of pro-independence movements such as Maluku and Papua.

Amnesty International takes no position whatsoever on the political status of any province of Indonesia, including calls for independence. However the organization believes that the right to freedom of expression includes the right to peacefully advocate referendums, independence or other political solutions.

The rights to free expression, opinion and peaceful assembly are guaranteed under the Indonesian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party. While the Indonesian government has the duty and the right to protect life and to maintain public order within its jurisdiction, it must ensure that any restrictions to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are no more than is permitted under international human rights law.

In June 2007, 22 political activists in Maluku province were arrested for unfurling the “Benang Raja” flag while performing a traditional “Cakalele” dance in front of the President. After their performance, the police, particularly the anti-terrorist unit Detachment-88, detained all 22 of the dancers. They were tortured or otherwise ill-treated, charged with “rebellion” under Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesia Criminal Code and are serving sentences of between seven and 20 years’ imprisonment. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience. A twenty-third dancer, also a prisoner of conscience, was arrested in June 2008 and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in March 2009.

ENDS/

Public Document
****************************************
For more information please contact Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or press@amnesty.org

Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, http://www.amnesty.org
For latest human rights news view http://news.amnesty.org

HRW: Indonesia: Free ‘Balloon Activists’ in Ambon

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

Indonesia: Free ‘Balloon Activists’ in Ambon
Ill-Treatment of Political Prisoners in Earlier Episodes Raises Grave Concerns
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/08/10/indonesia-free-balloon-activists-ambon
August 10, 2010

Related Materials:
Prosecuting Political Aspiration
Indonesia: Stop Prosecuting Peaceful Political Expression
Indonesia’s Not-So-Well-Kept Secret

Sadly, free speech in Indonesia is about as sturdy as the detained activists’ balloons. The Indonesian government publicly claims that it respects freedom of expression, so it should live up to its word and free these peaceful protesters immediately.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Indonesian authorities should immediately release the activists for Moluccan independence arrested in Ambon at the beginning of August 2010, Human Rights Watch said today. The activists were allegedly planning to float banned Moluccan independence flags attached to balloons to protest an August 3 visit by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Local sources reported that between 7 and 15 activists were arrested in connection with balloon launch plans to express political opposition to Indonesian rule in the Moluccas Islands. The police reportedly confiscated as evidence 133 posters that read “Free Alifuru and Papua Political Prisoners,” two copies of the June 2010 Human Rights Watch report “Prosecuting Political Aspiration,” 17 separatist Southern Moluccas Republic (Republik Maluku Selatan or RMS) flags, and one 12-pound gas cylinder to be used to fill the balloons. Yudhoyono was in Ambon to open the “Sail Banda” event, organized by the Tourism Ministry and the Moluccas Islands government to promote tourism in the Banda Sea.

“Sadly, free speech in Indonesia is about as sturdy as the detained activists’ balloons,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Indonesian government publicly claims that it respects freedom of expression, so it should live up to its word and free these peaceful protesters immediately.”

Human Rights Watch expressed grave concern that past torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners in Ambon puts the recently detained activists at serious risk. The detainees should have immediate access to family members and legal counsel, Human Rights Watch said.

Those arrested include Benny Sinay, Izak Sapulete, Andy Marunaya, Edwin Marunaya, Ongen Krikof, Marven Bremer, Steven Siahaya, and Ony Siahaya. Jacob Sinay, who lost his civil service job in December 2009 because of his political activism, is also being held. Most were arrested at their homes on August 2 and 3. Some were also arrested because they publicly unfurled the separatist RMS flag in some places in the archipelago, including on Ambon and Saparua islands.

Observers at the Sail Banda event in the Yos Sudarso seaport in Ambon described what they considered to be a very large deployment of police officers and military personnel. The security forces apparently sought to prevent a repeat of Yudhoyono’s June 29, 2007 visit, when 28 local Moluccan dancers were able to enter the Ambon stadium, dance the cakalele war dance, and unfurl the RMS flag.

More than 70 men were arrested after the 2007 dance. Many were tortured after being handed over to Anti-Terror Unit 88 forces based in Ambon. The Ambon district court convicted more than three dozen of them, including the dance leader Johan Teterisa, of treason and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from 5 to 20 years. Teterisa was sentenced to 15 years and is in the Malang prison in eastern Java.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern that Ambon authorities confiscated the recent Human Rights Watch report, “Prosecuting Political Aspiration,” as possible evidence in a case against the activists. The report profiles the cases of 10 prominent Papuan and Moluccan activists currently behind bars for expressing their political views, and details ill-treatment they suffered in detention and violations of their due process rights.

In June, Human Rights Watch discussed the findings of the report in Jakarta with officials from the Law and Human Rights Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the National Commission on Human Rights. At least 100 Papuans and Moluccans are in prison in Indonesia for peacefully expressing their political views.

“By arresting the Ambon activists, the Indonesian authorities are repeating the very mistakes that raised doubts globally about Indonesia’s commitment to improving human rights,” Robertson said. “The government should release these peaceful protesters immediately and spare the country further international condemnation.”

Background
Human Rights Watch takes no position on claims to self-determination in Indonesia or in any other country. Consistent with international law, Human Rights Watch supports the right of all individuals, including independence supporters, to express their political views peacefully without fear of arrest or other forms of reprisal.

Most of the current political prisoners in Indonesia were convicted of makar (treason) under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.

However, freedom of expression is protected both in Indonesia’s constitution and international human rights law. The constitution in article 28(e) states, “Every person shall have the right to the freedom of association and expression of opinion.” Article 28(f) provides, “Every person shall have the right to communicate and obtain information for the development of his/her personal life and his/her social environment, and shall have the right to seek, acquire, possess, keep, process, and convey information by using all available channels.”

In December 2007, the Indonesian government issued Government Regulation 77/2007, which regulates regional symbols. Article 6 of the regulation bans display of flags or logos that have the same features as “organizations, groups, institutions or separatist movements.” Both the Papuan Morning Star flag and the RMS flag are considered to fall under this ban.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in 2006, also protects the right to free expression. Under article 19, “[e]veryone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”