Papuan students demand accountability for torture and violence by security forces

Suara Papua – March 30, 2024
Papuan students in Yogyakarta read out statement on violence by security forces – March 26, 2024 (AMP)

Jayapura – Papuan students in various cities around Indonesia along with humanitarian solidarity groups including the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) are demanding that the state be held accountable for cases of torture and violence against civilians by TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police) officers against the people of the land of Papua.

There were at least 12 points conveyed in a statement in response to the case of torture shown in viral video that has been circulating since March 21 and the various other cases of state violence by security forces against indigenous Papuan people.

The statement and demands by the Yogyakarta Papua High School and University Students Association (IPPAPA), Land of Papuan Nature and Humanity Solidarity Concern (SPAM), the Yogyakarta city committee of the Papua Student Alliance (AMP), FRI-WP and the Humanitarian Care and Solidarity was read out in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on Wednesday March 26.

The following are the demands included in the statement:

1. Calling on the Cenderawasih/XVII regional military commander (Pangdam) to immediately reveal to the public the identities of the perpetrators from the TNI who committed the torture of an indigenous Papuan.

2. Condemning the Cendrawasih XVII Pangdam for a statement lying to the public in the media related to the torture in which it was referred to as having been edited.

3. Dismiss and imprison the perpetrators of the torture against the civilian in Puncak and that they be tried in a public court.

4. That the state be held accountable for the escalation of the conflict in the land of Papua.

5. That the state stops sending both organic and non-organic TNI/Polri troops to the land of Papua.

6. The immediate release of the two senior high school youths detained by the Papua regional police.

7. That the Papua regional police immediately and fully investigate the killing by security forces of Jein Urpon in the Bintang Highlands regency.

8. That the state is held accountable for the shooting of three people in Intan Jaya, two of which were injured and one killed.

9. Revoke the revisions to the TNI Law, the Omnibus Law on Job Creation, the revised Criminal Code (KUHP), the Mineral and Coal Mining Law (Minerba), the second revision to the Papua Special Autonomy Law (Otsus) and the Law on New Autonomous Regions (DOB).

10. Try and imprison all perpetrators of human rights violations in Papua and Indonesia.

11. Withdraw all organic and non-organic military troops from throughout the land of Papua.

12. Give the right of self-determination to the Papuan people as a democratic solution.

It was emphasised that the statement is conveyed in the name of humanity and freedom for all people on this earth of mankind.

Many cases of violence

A week ago, a 16 and 29 second torture video circulated showing the very cruel and inhumane torture and mistreatment of a native Papuan. The perpetrators were TNI soldiers from the Yonif Rider 300/Brajawijaya unit who are serving in Puncak district, Central Papua province.

On March 22, Cenderawasih/XVII commander Major General Izak Pangemanan responded by saying that the video had been edited and the images manipulated.

Then on March 23, TNI Information Centre Head Major General Nugraha Gumilar confirmed that the soldiers in the video were soldiers from the Yonif Raiders and that the Papuan seen tortured in the video was affiliated with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).

This accusation were denied by TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambom in an article by Tabloid Jubi on March 23 who said the three Papuan civilians that were tortured were not part of the TPNPB.

Pangemanan's statement, was seen as an effort to cover up the torture case and protect the perpetrators, but failed because it was contradicted by reality. The video was original, not a result of editing.

On March 25 through, Army Information Office Head Brigadier General Kristomei reviled that they have already questioned 42 TNI members and 13 had been declared suspects in the case, although the identities of the soldiers and the legal process was not yet clear.

The TNI is still claiming that the torture victim is affiliated with the TPNPB, but there is still no information from the community or the family of the victims. It is clear that the abuse was a case of very inhuman treatment, so it cannot be justified for any reason.

In addition to this, a similar case also occurred in Yahukimo on February 22 with the arrest of two high school students with the initials MH and BGE who were searching for fish in a river. They were accused of being TPNPB members and abused by the TNI then taken to the Yahukimo district police.

After being questioned, the state news agency Antara reported that the two teenagers were sent home because they were not proven guilty. It turned out however that they were secretly taken to the Papua regional police without informing their families and are still in detention.

In Intan Jaya on January 27, the military shot three people resulting on two being injured and one with the initials YS dying.

There are still many other victims of violence of by the TNI/Polri from year to year as revealed by human rights institutions, as well as the hundreds of thousands of victims of the conflict in Papua.

Also in the Bintang Highlands a police officer with the initials RK abused Jein Urpon until they died.

The conflict is not over yet but the government and state continues to deploy troops to Papua and the number has increased dramatically each year. Based on data from Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial), the number of military troops in Papua number around 10,500-13,900 along with four battalions of non-organic troops totaling approximately 2,800-4,000 soldiers.

The increase in the military forces in Papua has resulted in people falling victim, refugees everywhere, prolonged trauma, democratic space becoming very closed and no right to be safe and free for the people of Papua.

On the other hand, the military has been deployed to conduct military operations in several places: Nduga, Intan Jaya, Puncak Papua, Yahukimo, the Bintang Highlands, Maybrat and other areas, resulting in civilians being displaced from their homeland.

The cases of military violence by TNI/Polri continues to grow every year since Papua was annexed into the Republic of Indonesia and not a single case has been fully resolved.

The fact is that due to the violence by the military and the police and the oppression of the Papuan people, to this day Papuans have yet to feel a sense of justice, peace, freedom or comfort, so it is not wrong if the Papuan people say Indonesia's presence in Papua is colonial.

Because if one does not experience life as a human should, always being treated like an animal, it is as Filep Karma said, "It is as if we are a people who are half-animal".

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Sikap Mahasiswa Papua Terhadap Kasus Penyiksaan dan Berbagai Kasus Kekerasaan Aparat Keamanan".]