Jakarta – The Brawijaya Military Command in East Java have suspended five military personnel who are currently under investigation for their alleged involvement in a recent incident of racial abuse targeted at Papuan students in Surabaya.
Among the suspended was Tambaksari subdistrict military command (Koramil) chief Maj. NH Irianto, along with four other officers under Koramil, said Brawijaya Military Command spokesperson Lt. Col. Imam Hariyadi.
He declined to reveal the identities of the four officers. "While it is only a temporary suspension, it is still a punishment for them," Imam said on Sunday as quoted by kompas.com.
The suspended military personnel are suspected of involvement in physical and verbal abuse against Papuan students on Aug. 18.
Security personnel and members of mass organizations stormed the dormitory of the Papuan students in Surabaya and accused them of refusing to celebrate Indonesia's 74th Independence Day after they found an Indonesian flag discarded near the building.
As shown in videos that went viral after the incident, some military personnel banged on the dorm doors while shouting profanities, such as "monkeys" and "pigs". They are later seen throwing stones at the dorm while shouting "Kick out the Papuans!" and "Slaughter the Papuans!", allegedly for hours.
The incident triggered large-scale antiracism protests, primarily in cities and regencies across Papua and West Papua last week, with people demanding that the authorities take legal action against those who had used derogatory language.
Imam said he regretted that the military personnel committed such acts. "A territorial soldier should be able to show their social communication skills when doing their duties and not be emotional, even amid [tensions]," he said.
Brawijaya Military Police investigators had gathered evidence and testimonies from all relevant witnesses after the incident and were in the process of completing case dossiers that would be presented at court, he said.
"The [final sanction] will be decided by the [military court's] verdict," Imam added. (kuk/afr)