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Alleged beating sparks riot at Papua jail

Jakarta Globe - November 27, 2009

Allegations that correctional officials tortured a political prisoner in a jail in Papua has prompted protests from about 30 highland tribesmen in front of the facility, reports indicated on Friday.

The tribesmen protested at the state penitentiary in Abepura near the provincial capital of Jayapura, where fellow inmates who supported the political prisoner had rioted since the previous evening, Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar told news portal detik.com.

The tribe members were protesting the alleged mistreatment of Buchtar Tabuni, who was said to have been beaten and tortured by Indonesian security forces while under military detention. He was moved from Wamena in the highlands to Abepura, the Australia-based Institute of Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights (IPAHR) said in a press release.

The group said the incident took place on Thursday at 6:15 p.m. local time and that Tabuni suffered head injuries serious enough to render him unable to open his mouth.

The IPAHR said the beating took place after two soldiers and one policeman who were being detained at the facility asked the other prisoners to return to their cell rooms. The other inmates complained that they had gone without water for two days. Tabuni was among the complainants and was said to have been beaten by the three detained security officials as well as a jail warden identified as Theo Awii.

IPAHR identified four detained security forces members as Robi Korwa, Samsul Bakri, Yance Korwa, and David Ongge.

Patrialis, who could not be immediately reached for comment, was quoted by detik.com as saying that the violence had been due to a "misunderstanding."

"With this misunderstanding, unrest broke out. The jail was damaged, its glass windows shattered because there were so many supporters of Buchtar. So the jail was attacked both from outside and from within," Patrialis said.

He added that an agreement had been reached with the rioters, including that Buchtar be given medical attention. The two soldiers and policeman have been moved to a local Armed Forces detention station.