Buchtar Tabuni and friends are still in police custody

[Slightly abridged in translation by TAPOL]

Bintang Papua, 30 December 2010

Buchtar Tabuni and friends are still in police custody


Two convicted prisoners charged with treason [makar], Buchtar Tabuni and Filep Karma, along with three other prisoners, Dominggus Pulalo, Alex Elopere and Lopes Katubaba are still in police custody. Buchtar and the others are in police custody and face charges of causing damage and incitement in Abepura Prison on 3 December 2010.

Confirming this in a press release on the security situation at the end
of 2010, Police Inspector-General Bekto Suprapto said that although
Buchtar and his colleagues were convicted prisoners and already serving sentences in Abepura Prison , they now had the additional status of facing new charges. ‘This means that their sentences will certainly be increased,’ he said. (sic)

The police chief said that with their removal from Abepura Prison,
conditions at Abepura Prison had improved. It was much easier now to
keep control of the prisoners in Abepura than it was when Buchtar and
the others were there, he was quoted as saying. ‘We have received
reports that the prison inmates are easier to control, they are more
obedient and now do as they are told, whereas before they were not easy to control.’

He said this was an indication that Buchtar and the others had been
inciting the other prisoners to be disobedient.

Asked about the number of prisoners who had escaped from the prison, he said that they were all on the wanted list [DPO] and their capture was the top priority for 2011 but he did not mention the number of prisoners involved. According to information from other sources, at least fifty prisoners have escaped from the prison.

He said that Buchtar and the others would face several new charges such as causing damage (Article 170) and incitement (Article 160), and could face up to seven years in prison.

When Bintang Papua requested permission to take photos of Buchtar and his friends in police custody, this was refused. The police officer said that this would only infuriate the general public.

As previously reported, Buchtar and his friends [allegedly] caused
damage after an inmate Wiron Wetipo disappeared from the prison and was shot dead by a joint patrol of the police and the army, while they were raiding a house in Tanah Hitam which is suspected as being the
headquarters of the OPM/TPN.

On hearing that Wiron had been shot dead, the six persons [not five
which is the number of names given in this article] now face charges for causing damage and inciting the other prisoners.

Filep Karma is serving a 15-year sentence while Buchtar is serving three years. The other prisoners are serving sentences of two or three years.

[Note how this senior police has no doubt that Buchtar and Karma will
be found guilty of the new charges they face. Such is the rule of law in Indonesia. – TAPOL]

Australian Greens: Government fails to cut ties with torture unit

Australian Greens

Government fails to cut ties with torture unit

Media Release | Spokesperson Scott Ludlam

Wednesday 8th December 2010, 4:46pm

The Australian Greens have criticised the Government for failing to take action in response to allegations an Indonesian unit supported by Australian authorities has used torture against peaceful protestors.

On November 4 this year Greens legal affairs spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, called on the Government to stop funding Detachment 88, an Indonesian “counter-terrorism’ unit that has been linked to a series of human rights abuses.

“Demonstrators arrested in Ambon, in Maluku, unveiled their independence flag at an event at which the Indonesian president was present – this had nothing to do with terrorism whatsoever. They were subsequently jailed and many of them tortured and hospitalised,” Senator Ludlam said. “70 political activists in Maluku have been imprisoned since 2007.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reported this week that the total Australian Federal Police financial support for counter-terrorism initiatives in South East Asia in the 2009/10 was $16.3 million. DFAT said while the AFP is not directly involved in Detachment 88 operational activities, the AFP’s support to the Indonesian National Police includes that unit.

Senator Ludlam said that while Australian officials provide support to Detachment 88, it is not enough to leave investigations of the unit’s conduct in the hands of the Indonesian authorities.

“We are told the AFP does not have the power to investigate what Detachment 88 has done, but it does have the power to stop funding and supporting the unit,” he said. “The United States introduced a ban on training or assisting Detachment 88 members in Maluku in 2008 after the allegations of torture first emerged in 2007, but our Government has not issued a similar ban, which is much-needed.”

Detachment 88’s major facility at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Co-operation was established in 2004 with almost $40 million of Australian funding. According to its website, most of the counter-terrorism seminars at the Centre are run by the AFP, and it is a major beneficiary of $16.3 million in annual funding allocated to the AFP to combat terrorism in south-east Asia.


AWPA (Sydney) Urges Moratorium on Australian aid to Detachment 88 torturers

Australia West Papua Association, Sydney
PO Box 28, Spit Junction, Sydney, Australia 2088

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
ACT 2600

15  September 2010

Dear Prime Minister,

On behalf of the Australia West Papua Association  (AWPA),  I am writing to you concerning the recent media reports about the torture of activists in Maluku by members of the Indonesian counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88. Detachment 88 also operates in West Papua where they have  also  been accused of human rights abuses. In December 2009  the West Papuan  leader Kelly Kwalik who was of great symbolic importance  to the West Papuan people was killed  by the Indonesian security forces  which included members of  Detachment 88.  We will not go into great detail of the human rights abuses committed by this unit and that of the other Indonesian Special Forces unit,  Kopassus.  These human rights abuses have been documented in numerous reports and the activities of the Indonesian security forces  are well know to the Australian people from their past history in East Timor, Aceh and the ongoing abuses in West Papua.  A recent Human Rights Watch report titled “What Did I Do Wrong?” Papuans in Merauke Face Abuses by Indonesian Special Forces,”  documents a number of cases of West Papuans who were tortured by Kopassus troops.
AWPA and other civil society organisations have written regularly to Australian Governments over many years about our ties with the Indonesian military. We have raised concerns that any aid or training given to the military would be used against the West Papuan people who are struggling for their right to self-determination.

Many of the NGO submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) concerning  the Lombok treaty, also raised  concerns about the past history of  the Indonesian military’s treatment of civilian populations.  Unfortunately these concerns have proven yet again justified in the case of the treatment of activists in West Papua and Maluku.

During the occupation of East Timor by Indonesia, the Australian Government appeared to believe that by continuing ties with the Indonesian military that  the professionalism of the Australian military would  rub off on the Indonesian military.  However, this  proved to be wishful thinking and a complete failure  as  was shown  by the behavior of the Indonesian military at the time of the referendum in East Timor. It is also a failure now.  To quote from the Human Rights Watch Report  “The cases in this report illustrate how violence thrives when a culture of impunity persists in  the heart of what is supposed to be one of Indonesia’s best trained fighting units”.

AWPA is urging you to put a moratorium on the training, funding and any ties between  the Australian military,  Detachment 88 and the special forces unit  Kopassus, until a full inquiry is held into the activities of these units in relation to  human rights abuses in the archipelago.

Yours sincerely
Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney)

CC The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Hon Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence
Various human rights organisations

SMH: Counter-terrorism squad to stay in Papua

Tom Allard

Media Information – FYI
September 14, 2010

JAKARTA: Detachment 88 has a legitimate role in countering separatism and will remain in Papua, where a long-simmering independence campaign has been running, the unit’s commander, Tito Karnavian, has confirmed.

In an interview with the Herald, Brigadier General Karnavian said Papua was different to Maluku, another Indonesian province where members of the counter-terrorism unit have been accused of abuses and from where they will soon leave.

General Karnavian pointed to shootings last year near the US-owned Freeport mine, in which an Australian worker, Drew Grant, and others died, as evidence that separatists in Papua were using ”tactics of terror”.

”Any group using violence against civilians must be seen as a terrorist group. It’s not just Islamic groups,” he said.

”You can’t confine Detachment 88 only for Islamic groups. That would be used by Islamic groups to say that we are just an extension of the Western powers against Islam.”

Independence supporters dispute that their armed wing, Organisasi Papua Merdeka, was involved in the Freeport shootings, blaming Indonesian military and police who lost the lucrative job of guarding the gargantuan gold and copper mine.

One analyst, who asked not to be named, doubted whether Detachment 88 should play a significant role in suppressing separatism and said it could prove counter-productive.

”It’s a huge mistake to brand separatist activity as terrorism – activities designed to create fear – when you are trying to find a political solution in places like Papua,” the analyst said.

Australia and the US fund and train Detachment 88, Indonesia’s elite counter-terrorism unit, and value its skill in preventing terrorist attacks, uncovering networks and arresting offenders.

But the nations have been concerned by repeated allegations of abuses in Maluku and are wary of being linked to its counter-separatist activities.

In response to the Herald’s revelations yesterday about abuses in Maluku, l an Australian Foreign Affairs spokesman said: ”Det-88 has not sought assistance from Australia in any investigations or operations to counter internal separatist movements.”

Brigadier General Karnavian said an imminent restructuring of Detachment 88 would see its forces outside Jakarta, including those in Papua, focus on ”intelligence gathering rather than investigations”.

Under the new arrangements, forces would report directly to Jakarta. At present, General Karnavian said he had no control over Detachment 88 police outside the capital, including those in Maluku. ”They were instructed directly by the head of police or head of detectives in the province,” he said.

An Indonesia analyst from the Australian National University, Greg Fealy, welcomed the restructure. ”There are some well trained, highly professional Densus [Detachment 88] officers at the national level, but regional units often reflect local police culture and preoccupations, including a greater tendency to use violence.”

SMH: Indonesia backdown on state 'torturers'

Tom Allard

The Ambon-based unit of Detachment 88, accused of brutality and the torture of peaceful political protesters, will be disbanded, the head of the elite counter-terrorism force, Tito Karnavian, has said.

The decision to remove Detachment 88 entirely from the Malukas archipelago came as a Herald investigation exposed serious abuses of political prisoners in the province by its members last month.

Brigadier General Karnavian said it was clear the Malukan separatists were peaceful, and therefore there was no need for Detachment 88 to be involved in the province. ”Detachment 88 in Ambon will be dismissed very soon,” he said.

The Herald yesterday revealed allegations by a group of men who were arrested last month and taken to Detachment 88’s Ambon headquarters. They said they were beaten for up to a week; brought to the point of suffocation with plastic bags placed over their heads; pierced with nails while forced to hold stress positions; and ordered to eat raw chillies. Two men were hospitalised.

It was also revealed the Australian embassy in Jakarta had sent an official to investigate the abuses, and the US had blacklisted members of Detachment 88 based in Ambon, the Maluku capital, and had refused to train or equip them since 2008.

Brigadier General Karnavian denied there was a systemic problem of excessive force within Detachment 88, a criticism that has also surfaced because of the number of terrorist suspects – 17 in the past year – who have been shot dead rather than arrested.

He said the new allegations of abuses in Maluku could be investigated by local authorities or, possibly, internal affairs.

But Kontras, Indonesia’s leading human rights group, said an independent review of Detachment 88 was the only way to have a serious investigation into its alleged abuses.

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