Rights activists disappointed by Papuan military tribunal verdict

Kompas – November 12, 2010
TNI soldiers stand trial at military tribunal in Papua (Okezone)

Jakarta – Rights activists have expressed disappointment over the Cenderawasih Regional Military Command (Kodam) military tribunal’s verdict in the case of the Papuans that were tortured in Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya regency, a video of which was circulated via YouTube not long ago.

Speaking in Jakarta on Thursday November 11, the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Haris Azhar expressed his regret that the trial process was forced through. The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) he said, should conduct and independent investigation and that the case should be tried by a human rights court.

Papuan Presidium Council Secretary General Thaha Al Hamid also expressed regret that it was not revealed whether or not the people that were tortured were actually members of the Free Papua Organisation (OPM).

On Thursday, a judge at the Cenderawasih XVII Kodam III-19 military tribunal handed down sentence of five months in jail against master private Syahmin Lubis, second private Joko Sulistyono and second private Dwi Purwanto. The sentences were heaver than the three months demanded by the prosecutor.

The soldiers were found guilty of violating Article 103 of the Military Criminal Code in connection with Article 56 of the Criminal Code, namely violating the orders of a superior and failing to obey an official order to treat members of the public correctly.

Infantry Second Lieutenant Cosmos, who gave the order, was sentenced to seven months in jail for violating the same articles. This sentence was heaver that the three months initially demanded by the prosecutor. “This is in fact a problem of view point. Jakarta still views Papuans as the enemy,” said Hamid.

Kontras believes that the verdict ignored the testimonies of the victims, namely Goliat Tabuni, K. Wenda and Tives Tabuni. The sentences will also not secure responsibility from the military command. “This is evidence that the mechanism of military courts is unable to provide a sense of justice for the victims and the public and is far from human rights standards”, said Azhar.

Separately, the Army’s elite Special Forces (Kopassus) has been accused of spying on religious figures in Papua. This was revealed by US journalists Allan Nairn in his blog on November 9. On his blog, Nairn also attached copies of a Kopassus Kotaraja military post quarterly report and a daily report.

Army information office chief Brigadier General Widjanarko said that they will conduct an evaluation in connection with the leak of the documents. (EDN)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the report was “Papua torture video – a disappointing verdict”.]