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Call to remove commander following torture of three Papuans by TNI soldiers

Tabloid Jubi - March 26, 2024

Manokwari, Jubi – The Executive Director of LP3BH Manokwari, Yan Cristian Warinussy, urged the Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Agus Subiyanto to immediately remove the Commander of the XVII/Cenderawasih Military Command Maj. Gen. Izak Pangemanan, as he was deemed to have misled the public regarding his statement regarding a video depicting alleged torture of three Papuans by several TNI soldiers, claiming it as a hoax.

"Because the XVII/Cenderawasih Commander did not speak honestly and tended to engage in public deception, and attempted impunity regarding the alleged abuse of civilians by five soldiers from the TNI's 300/Brajawijaya Raider Infantry Battalion in early February 2024," Warinussy said in Manokwari, West Papua Province on Saturday (23/3/2024).

Warinussy mentioned that the civilians were suspected by the TNI personnel as members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). The victims then experienced abuse.

"In the 16-minute long video, the victims were covered in blood. The video spread rapidly throughout the country, even internationally. It was watched by millions of people. Unfortunately, Maj. Gen. Izak Pangemanan denied it, even stating that the video was edited and a hoax," he said.As reported by ceposonline.com on Friday (22/3/2024), Izak Pangemanan denied the circulated video. Izak stated that the relationship between the 300 Battalion and the community was very good during their duty in Ilaga. "There is nothing like that, the video is edited," Izak said.

However, according to Warinussy, eventually the Chief of the Information Center of TNI, Maj. Gen. Nugraha Gumilar, confirmed that the abuser was indeed TNI personnel. Therefore, Warinussy said, removing Izak Pangemanan from his position was deemed as fair and fitting consequences.

LP3BH Manokwari also urged for the immediate arrest, detention, and intensive interrogation of the alleged perpetrators of torture, followed by discharge from the TNI unit.

Warinussy reminded that the actions of these TNI personnel violated the Criminal Procedure Code. The Code stipulates the right to self-defense and the presumption of innocence for anyone suspected of committing a crime, so they should not be subjected to abuse or punishment outside the legal process.

The abuse video went viral on social media. In the circulated video, five men were seen at night surrounding a blue drum filled halfway with water. Inside was a Papuan with his hands tied behind his back. His head and face were bloody, and blood was flowing down his chest.

A man in a green shirt threw punches and elbows to the back of his head repeatedly. Another man punched and kicked, wearing camouflage pants. A man in a dark shirt seemed to calm the others.

TPNPB Spokesperson Sebby Sambom stated that the civilians tortured by TNI personnel were not members of the TPNPB but ordinary civilians. "They (TNI) tortured civilians who have no connection whatsoever with TPNPB," said Sambom on Saturday (23/3/2024).

According to him, the torture recorded in the viral video is a military crime committed by Indonesia against three civilians in Puncak Regency. "This heinous act shows that the Indonesian military and police are terrorists aiming to exterminate the Indigenous Papuans," he said.

Denial and recurrence of violence

Director of the Papua Human Rights Advocacy Association (PAHAM Papua) Gustaf F. Kawer criticized the inhumane behavior of the soldier perpetrators. Kawer also criticized that in various human rights violations in Papua, there has been no initiative from commanders to discipline their subordinates who commit human rights violations.

"We have not heard of civilians suspected of being TPNPB members being handed over to the police for legal processing, but civilians are tortured to the point of death," said Kawer.

Kawer stated that the leaders of the TNI only acted and responded to the case after the torture video went viral on social media. Kawer criticized the initial response of the TNI officials who denied the allegations of torture and immediately declared information about the torture by alleged TNI soldiers as a hoax.

"After facing pressure from the public and human rights activists broadly, there was finally acknowledgment that the violent actions were indeed carried out by TNI personnel. Even then, they still sought excuses by accusing the victims of being affiliated with TPNPB," he said.

Kawer said that cases of violence by TNI soldiers like this are recurring events in Papua.

"Since the reform era, we have seen it in cases such as the [murder of] Theys Hiyo Eluay, the [murder of] Pastor Yeremia Zanambani, and the [murder of] Eden Bebari and Ronny Wandik. Denials are made, scapegoats are mentioned, but investigations prove that they were TNI personnel who committed violence against civilians," said Kawer.

Kawer stated that such incidents should not happen if commanders and TNI personnel serving in Papua have a good understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1945 Constitution, Law Number 39 of 1999 concerning Human Rights, and various laws regulating the duties and authority of the TNI. Commanders and TNI personnel serving in Papua should also understand the cultural and sociological values of Indigenous Papuans, especially the indigenous communities where they serve.

"The recurrence [of such violence] is also due to the perpetrators getting away from the human rights court process. There is no deterrent effect on the perpetrators, so the cycle of violence continues to increase," said Kawer.

Kawer said the state should be more serious in resolving cases of torture by TNI personnel through human rights mechanisms. Perpetrators at the commander level and field perpetrators should be legally processed and brought to court for punishment. The court should also provide compensation, restitution, and rehabilitation to the victims and their families.

"The absence of legal enforcement in such cases leaves deep wounds on the victims, the victims' families, and the majority of the Papuan community, showing that the state and its laws are absent," he said.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) on Friday (22/3/2024) stated that the recent video aligns with the initial reports obtained. The Executive President of ULMWP, Menase Tabuni, told Jubi that at that time, during a sweep, members of the 300 Battalion had captured three Papuans whose names were still under confirmation. The victims were taken to the TNI post where they were interrogated, leading to their torture.

"After being handed over to the Puncak Police, the victims were already injured, and the Criminal Investigation Unit Chief at the time suggested taking them to the Ilaga hospital, where one of them eventually died, while the other two were returned to their families," Tabuni said.

Tabuni stressed that the torture of the three victims, known to the public through two video clips, is the smallest portrait of what the Indonesian government has done since May 1963 until March 2024.

During that period, threats of genocide, ethnocide, and ecocide have been looming over the Papuan people. The public will surely recall several instances of inhumane torture and killings of Papuan civilians that have garnered attention after being publicized through video clips on social media.

He explained that the heinous acts perpetrated by Indonesia through its security forces, such as on August 13, 2009, in Serui, West Papua, when members of the Papua Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) conducted shootings and torture resulting in the death of Yawan Wayeni.

On May 27, 2010, in Puncak Jaya, West Papua, TNI members tortured two Papuan civilians (Telenggen Gire and Tunaliwor Kiwo or Anggen Pugukiwo) by tying them with clotheslines and burning their genitals with fire. The victims' faces were also covered with plastic bags.

On December 8, 2014, in Paniai, West Papua, TNI members shot dead five Papuans (Otianus Gobai, Simon Degei, Yulian Yeimo, Abia Gobay, and Alfius You).

In June 2021, in Merauke, West Papua, two Indonesian Air Force members physically assaulted Steven Yadohamang in front of a chicken porridge stall owned by an Indonesian citizen.

On August 22, 2022, in Timika, West Papua, TNI members committed inhumane acts by mutilating four Papuan civilians (Arnold Lokbere, Lemanion Nirigi, Iryan Nirigi, and Jenius Tini).

"Acts like these violate human dignity. No law justifies such heinous torture as seen in the two viral video clips," Tabuni said.

In response to the concern and pressure from various international community members regarding human rights violations in West Papua by the Indonesian government, including the report from the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Human Rights to the UNHRC regarding the situation of genocide threat in West Papua, Tabuni called for the UNHRC to promptly establish an investigation team to investigate human rights violations and genocide threats against the Papuan people.

ULMWP also urged the Papuan people to rise and take concrete self-defense efforts to defend themselves against every crime and real threat that continues to occur to Papuans on their ancestral land.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Papua Justice and Integrity Foundation, Theo Hesegem, said that the perpetrators of torture should be prosecuted according to the laws because their actions were deliberate.

"What is even more sadistic is being beaten, slashed with knives by TNI personnel in turns while saying 'lift your face, lift your face, lift your face, you dog,'" he mimicked.

He said that such treatment was not much different from the Old Order and the New Order, where Indonesia mobilized military operations throughout Papua. "From time to time, Indonesia treats us like animals," he said.

Urging dialogue

The Jakarta Archdiocese (KAJ) advocates for peaceful dialogue as the most dignified path to resolve the violence issues occurring in the Papua region.

According to KAJ, Indonesia has experience in building peace in Aceh, so it should also be possible to undertake the same process in Papua.

The Secretary-General of KAJ, Rev. Adi Prasojo, in an official statement in Jakarta on Saturday (23/3/2024), mentioned that this advocacy was in response to the widely circulated video depicting the torture of Papuan civilians by suspected TNI personnel.

He strongly condemned the torture in the viral video. He mentioned that torture goes against various moral values and teachings of compassion in religion, violates the principles of fair and civilized humanity, and degrades the dignity of Indonesian people protected by the constitution.

With this incident, he assessed that peace and security in parts of Papua are becoming farther from hope. The development and welfare of every citizen, as the ideals of Indonesian independence, would also be hindered if peaceful conditions are not achieved.

Therefore, Adi also hoped for a thorough investigation effort to ensure justice for the victims and their families, and to conduct a fair and transparent legal process for the suspected perpetrators.

"We urge everyone to refrain from making judgments and await the results of the ongoing investigation process," he said, as reported by Antara.

Acting Deputy V of the Presidential Staff Office, Rumadi Ahmad, in a press release in Jakarta on Friday (22/3/2024), encouraged an investigation into the alleged torture of civilians in Papua by suspected TNI personnel in a viral video.

"I urge the viral video to be immediately investigated for the facts. Of course, there is a great hope that our soldiers were not involved in such barbaric acts, but if proven true, the relevant individuals must be firmly dealt with according to the rules and regulations in place," he said. (*)

Source: https://en.jubi.id/call-to-remove-commander-following-torture-of-three-papuans-by-tni-soldiers