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Home » , » Indonesia leader plays down torture of Papuans

Indonesia leader plays down torture of Papuans

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on January 22, 2011 | 2:21 AM

JAKARTA — Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday played down the brutal torture of two Papuan men as a "small" incident that should not detract from the military's reform efforts.
In a speech to the country's top military and police brass, the ex-general called for the torturers to be punished but said their actions were not military policy.
"Although the scale is small, and could happen in any country, I ask for it to be dealt with. Give sanctions to those who are guilty," he said.
Indonesian prosecutors on Thursday demanded jail terms of up to 12 months for three soldiers accused of disobedience after they filmed themselves torturing Papuan civilians.

In footage posted on YouTube last year, the soldiers apply a burning stick to the genitals of an unarmed man and threaten another with a knife as they interrogate them about the location of a weapons cache.
In a videoed statement, one of the victims said he thought he was going to die during two days of torture in which he was repeatedly beaten, suffocated, burned with cigarettes, cut with a razor and tormented with pain.
The United States has said it is "monitoring" the court martial after human rights activists slammed President Barack Obama's decision last year to re-open military links with Indonesia's notorious special forces.
A verdict is expected on Monday.
"This was a test case for the Indonesian government and it has failed," Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson said Thursday.
"The charges should reflect the crimes committed. People who burn another man's genitals should be tried for torture, not simply slapped on the wrist for disobeying orders."
Yudhoyono said Indonesia's armed forces had cleaned up their act since the fall of military strongman Suharto, who resigned in 1998 amid social unrest and economic turmoil.
No senior military officer has faced justice for murders and alleged crimes against humanity committed during Suharto's rule.
Rights activists accuse the military of widespread and ongoing abuses of the Papua region's indigenous Melanesian majority, some of whom have been waging a low-level insurgency against Indonesian rule for decades.
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