There are still many armed groups in Papua: TNI chief

Kompas – January 6, 2011
Indonesian military (TNI) commander-in-chief Admiral Agus Suhartono (Tempo)
Indonesian military (TNI) commander-in-chief Admiral Agus Suhartono (Tempo)

Jakarta – Responding to the results of an investigation into acts of violence in Puncak Jaya, Papua province, which was carried out by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), Indonesian military (TNI) commander-in-chief Admiral Agus Suhartono says that it must be understood that there are still many armed groups in Papua.

“The TNI’s Inspectorate General and Komnas HAM will discuss [the findings] jointly in order that there is a similarity of perspective”, said Suhartono in Jakarta on Wednesday January 5.

Earlier, the TNI stated that there were no human rights violations in the torture case in Papua. A ruling by the Cendrawasih military tribunal stated that the soldiers involved in the torture had violated the orders of a superior. The soldiers involved have been sentenced to five and seven months in jail.

The results of the Komnas HAM investigation that was published last Tuesday meanwhile found that there were human rights violations, including the murder of Reverend Kinderman Gire, during the interrogations and torture depicted in a video uploaded on the YouTube website.

Suhartono said the TNI will invite Komnas HAM to sit down together to make an assessment of the case. In this way a similarity of perception on what took place can be achieved. “If you only view it from outside and don’t understand and look into it from within, the perspective will be different”, he said.

With regard to the ruling in the military tribunal, Suhartono stated that the TNI remains committed to achieving a sense of justice in society. Moreover according to Suhartono, the sentences handed down by military courts are heavier than civil courts.

With regard to the sentence of only seven months jail, according to Suhartono it is in accordance with the errors committed by the soldiers. “We [have] to look at the nature of the [legal] process. The nature of the [soldiers’] confessions. The nature of the facts. Only then can we understand”, he explained.

According to Suhartono, the cases of torture that have occurred in Papua are not systematic in nature and are purely a case of mistakes made by subordinates.

He also emphasised the difference between the situation in Papua and other regions in Indonesia. According to Suhartono there are still many groups in Papua that have weapons that may be used at any time.

“This has become general knowledge for soldiers, including the [general] public, which finds it hard to accept that these armed [groups] exist”, said Suhartono. (EDN)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the report was Torture in Papua – TNI Chief: There are still many armed groups.]