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AP: 3 Indonesian Soldiers Seen In Video Torturing 2 Papuan Men On Trial Just For Disobeying Orders

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3 Indonesian Soldiers Seen In Video Torturing 2 Papuan Men On Trial
Just For Disobeying Orders

By IRWAN FIRDAUS
Associated Press

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
outcry.

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
“freedom fighters.”

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
legal action.

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
action.

No separatism in Papua, says military commander

Bintang Papua, 5 October 2010

[Abridged in translation]

No separatism in Papua, says military commander

According to the military commander of the Cenderawasih Command, there
are no separatist groups functioning in Papua any more, Security can
therefore be left to the police, with the army providing back-up when
called upon to do so, said Major-General Hotma Marbun. 'If there were
any separatists, we would crush them,' he said.

He was speaking on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the
Cenderawasih military command, he said. Asked about the 'Papua Peace
Force' which has been announced by Forkorus Yoboisembut, chairman of
DAP, the Papuan Traditional Council, Hotma said: 'There is no such
thing. I dont know anything about it. If it did exist, it wouldn't mean
anything. They are using the word peace, aren't they?'

A message was read out on behalf of the commander of the Indonesian
armed forces Admiral Agus Suhartono. He said that reflecting the
emerging global framework strategy and Indonesia's national interests,
the country is facing a number of threats to its national security
including security in South Maluku, terrorism, separatism, violations of
its borders, natural disasters, illegal activities (no mention about
what these are), horizontal conflicts and a lack of energy resources.

In the context of the strategic environment, he said that Indonesia
faces the threat of global warming and  continual endeavours together
with all components to safeguard the integrity of NKRI, the Unitary
State of the Republic of Indonesia. He then said that the armed forces
would continue to pursue the process of reformasi.