Tag Archives: Republik Maluku Selatan

SMH: Activist's death blamed on anti-terrorism squad 'abuses'

Activist’s death blamed on

anti-terrorism squad ‘abuses’

Yusuf Sipakoly ... ‘I have rights to express my opinion.’Yusuf Sipakoly … ‘I have rights to express my opinion.’

JAKARTA: In his last interview, the Malukan political prisoner Yusuf Sipakoly, said: ”I believe the truth will surely arrive, although it walks slowly.”

Mr Sipakoly, who died on Monday, was one of many activists in the eastern Indonesian province to allege gross human rights abuses by Detachment 88, the Indonesian anti-terrorism unit partly funded by Australia.

Sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2007 for possessing a small separatist flag, the Herald spoke to him less than two weeks ago while he was in an Ambon hospital hooked to a dialysis machine.

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”I was tied with nylon [by the Detachment 88 officers] and my head was covered with a bucket,” he said. ”Then they started beating me until I urinated in my underwear …

”Another police officer, not Detachment 88, hit me with a wooden block while another officer hit me all over my body.”

Mr Sipakoly also alleged he was forced to drink hot water infused with carbon paper.

The 52-year-old father’s subsequent kidney and stomach ailments were a result of the mistreatment, he said.

”I didn’t commit subversion; I never carried gun and pointed it at anyone or anything; I never launched any violent attack against the state, but I only wanted to prove that I have rights to express my opinion.”

Although no action was ever taken against those who allegedly beat him, Mr Sipakoly was among 70 people interrogated in 2007 and given long prison sentences.

Another dozen men were arrested last month for planning a peaceful protest and alleged similar abuses.

Yesterday the Indonesian police chief, Bambang Hendraso Danuri, confirmed police would investigate the new claims of torture, highlighted in a Herald investigation this week.

A prominent human rights lawyer, Johnson Panjaitan, said that despite several attempts to raise the alleged abuses with Indonesian authorities, this was the first time they had agreed to launch an investigation into the alleged abuses.

But he said the exercise was pointless unless the investigation was independent and undertaken by the Indonesian government’s human rights and police watchdogs.

“This is an important case,” Mr Panjaitan said.

However, Indonesia’s Co-ordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security, Djoko Suyanto, said he doubted the claims were true.

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.

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.

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.”