Indonesian military impunity, poor training condemned over torture of Papuans

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West Papuan demonstrators carry posters depicting torture
West Papuan demonstrators carry posters depicting torture during a rally in Jayapura City, Papua, in September 2022 over the murder and mutilation of four Nduga residents. Image: Jubi/Theo Kelen

Jubi/West Papua Daily

Repeated cases of Indonesian military (TNI) soldiers torturing civilians in Papua have been evident, as seen in the viral video depicting the torture of civilians in the Puncak Regency allegedly done by soldiers of Raider 300/Brajawijaya Infantry Battalion.

There is a pressing need for stringent law enforcement and the evaluation of the deployment of TNI troops from outside Papua to the region.

Frits Ramandey, the head of the Papua Office of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM Papua), said that since 2020, Komnas HAM Papua had handled several cases of alleged torture by TNI soldiers against civilians.

“This [case of torture against civilians] is not the first to occur in Papua,” said Ramandey said this week.

Ramandey cited the case of the torture and murder of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani in Intan Jaya Regency in September 2020.

He also mentioned cases of violence against people with disabilities in Merauke in July 2021.

Torture of children
In 2022, Komnas HAM Papua also dealt with cases of civilian torture in Mappi regency, as well as the torture of seven children in the Puncak regency.

In Mimika regency, four Nduga residents were murdered and mutilated, and three children were tortured in Keerom regency.

Ramandey said that the cases handled by Komnas HAM indicated that the torture experienced by civilians was extremely brutal, inhumane, and violated human rights.

According to Ramandey, similar methods of torture used by the military were employed during Indonesia’s New Order regime.

Head of the Representative Office of Komnas HAM Papua, Frits Ramandey (centre),
Head of the Representative Office of Komnas HAM Papua, Frits Ramandey (centre), with colleagues presenting the statement about the latest allegations of Indonesian military torture in Jayapura City, Papua, last weekend. Image: Jubi/Theo Kelen

“They tend to repeatedly commit torture. [The modus operandi] used [is reminiscent of] the New Order regime, using drums, tying up individuals, rendering them helpless, allowing perpetrators to freely carry out torture,” he said.

Ramandey emphasised that such torture only perpetuated the cycle of violence in Papua.

Human rights training
He insisted that TNI soldiers deployed in Papua must receive proper training on human rights. Additionally, soldiers involved in torture cases must be prosecuted.

“Otherwise, the cycle of violence will continue because [the torture that occurs] will breed hatred, resentment, and anger,” said Ramandey.

Ramandey called for an evaluation of the deployment of TNI troops from outside Papua to the region.

According to Ramandey, TNI troops from outside Papua would be better placed under the control of the local Military Area Command (Kodam) instead of the current practice of under the Operational Control of the Joint Defence Region Command (Kogabwilhan) III.

He believed that the Papua conflict could only be resolved through peaceful dialogue. He urged the state to create space for such peaceful dialogue, including humanitarian dialogue advocated by Komnas HAM in 2023.

Repetition due to impunity
In a written statement last weekend, the director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, said that the right of every individual to be free from torture was part of internationally recognised norms.

Usman said that Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and General Comment No. 20 on Article 7 of the ICCPR had affirmed that no one could be subjected to practices of torture/cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment under any circumstances.

“No one in this world, including in Papua, should be treated inhumanely and have their dignity degraded, let alone resulting in loss of life,” wrote Usman.

Usman criticised the practice of impunity towards suspected perpetrators of various past cases, which had led to repeated cases of torture of civilians by TNI soldiers.

“These actions keep repeating because there has been no punishment for members who have been proven to have committed crimes such as kidnapping, torture, and even loss of life,” he said.

According to Jubi’s records, TNI soldiers are suspected of repeatedly being involved in the torture of civilians in Papua.

On February 22, 2022, TNI soldiers allegedly assaulted seven children in Sinak District, Puncak Regency, after a soldier from 521/Dadaha Yodha Infantry Battalion 521, Second Pvt. Kristian Sandi Alviando, lost his SS2 weapon at PT Modern hangar, Tapulunik Sinak Airport.

The seven children subjected to torture were Deson Murib, Makilon Tabuni, Pingki Wanimbo, Waiten Murib, Aton Murib, Elison Murib, and Murtal Kulua. Makilon Tabuni later died.

Killed and mutilated
On August 22, 2022, a number of TNI soldiers allegedly killed and mutilated four residents of Nduga in Settlement Unit 1, Mimika Baru District, Mimika Regency.

The four victims of murder and mutilation were Arnold Lokbere, Irian Nirigi, Lemaniel Nirigi, and Atis Tini.

On August 28, 2022, soldiers from Raider 600/Modang Infantry Battalion allegedly apprehended and assaulted four intoxicated individuals in Mappi Regency, South Papua Province.

The four individuals arrested for drunkenness were Amsal Pius Yimsimem, Korbinus Yamin, Lodefius Tikamtahae, and Saferius Yame.

Komnas HAM Papua said that these four individuals also experienced abuse resulting in injuries all over their bodies.

On August 30, 2022, soldiers stationed at Bade Post, Edera District, Mappi Regency, allegedly committed assault resulting in the death of Bruno Amenim Kimko and severe injuries to Yohanis Kanggun.

A total of 18 soldiers from Raider 600/Modang Infantry Battalion were suspects in the case.

On October 27, 2022, three children in Keerom Regency, Rahmat Paisei, 15; Bastian Bate, 13; and Laurents Kaung, 11; were allegedly abused by TNI soldiers at a military post in Arso II District, Arso, Keerom Regency, Papua.

These three children were reportedly abused using chains, wire rolls, and hoses, requiring hospital treatment.

On February 22, 2023, TNI soldiers at Lantamal X1 Ilwayap Post allegedly assaulted Albertus Kaize and Daniel Kaize. Albertus Kaize died as a result.

Republished with permission from Jubi/West Papua Daily.

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