Subject: The Age Update: Kopassus in Papuan Reign of Terror: Report

Read full report here: hrw.org/en/reports/2009/06/24/what-did-i-do-wrong 

The Age (Melbourne) Friday, June 26, 2009

Kopassus in Papuan Reign of Terror: Report

by Tom Allard, Indonesia Correspondent, Jakarta

HUMAN Rights Watch has urged Australia to cut ties with Indonesia's feared special forces group Kopassus after new evidence that it is terrorising civilians in West Papua.

It also urged the Indonesian Government to thoroughly investigate the behaviour of Kopassus officers.

The Australian Government suspended links with Kopassus in 1999 over its role in East Timor, and resumed co-operation in 2003.

Kopassus soldiers based in the West Papuan town of Merauke regularly abduct Papuans from the streets and their homes and hand out beatings, the Human Rights Watch report found.

According to the testimony to researchers from the New York-based organisation, indigenous West Papuans were beaten with fists, boots, pipes and water hoses, and forced to eat mouthfuls of raw, hot chillies in a series of brutal acts between August 2007 and May this year.

"The soldiers typically do not wear uniforms and have no formal role in policing, but act on their own or in response to complaints of public disturbances," the report, released yesterday, said.

A spokesman for the Indonesian military, Rear Marshall Sagoem Tambun, said: "This kind of report confuses us. Who are those people who were interviewed in the report? We don't know that. Who violated the law?"

West Papua has been the subject of a long-running separatist campaign by indigenous Papuans. It has a heavy military and police presence and journalists have to get approval to travel there.

"Antonius", a 21 year old quoted in the report, told of being picked up by five Kopassus officers in September last year. He said he was taken to the Kopassus barracks, handcuffed to a chair and beaten by a procession of 12 officers.

"My face was bleeding. My eyes were swollen. Once one soldier held my chest and another one kicked my stomach. I asked them: 'What did I do wrong?'," Antonius said.

He was already vomiting blood when the soldiers stuffed 10 raw chillies in his mouth, Antonius said.

The bizarre punishment with chillies was meted out to others cited in the report. Indigenous Papuans often chew betel nut, leading to small cuts in their mouths that would make eating raw chillies acutely painful.

According to one anonymous person quoted, such beatings occur weekly and have installed a deep sense of fear among indigenous Papuans.

West Papua, formerly Dutch New Guinea, was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969.


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