If you thought Schapelle Corby got a raw deal from the Indonesian justice system, spare a thought for the West Papuan students who survived a vicious attack by police as they slept in their dormitories in Abepura, West Papua, in the early hours of 7 December 2000.
After nearly five years of waiting for the case to conclude, the students were in a Makassar court last week to hear judges hand down a "not guilty" verdict to two police officers accused of perpetrating the violence.
One West Papuan student was killed in the raid, two others later died as a result of beatings while in police custody, and over a hundred others were harassed or tortured in the attack. The case is the first to come before the Human Rights Court newly established under Law 26/2000, which, as an initiative was widely viewed as a positive step toward addressing Indonesia's appalling record on human rights.
However, the verdict sends an ominous message not only to West Papuans, but to all Indonesians, that Indonesia's legal system cannot be depended on to deliver justice, and is a reminder of the ongoing impunity of Indonesia's security forces.
Shortly after 1am on 7 December 2000 a group of unidentified persons attacked the Abepura police station. A policeman, Petrus Eppa, was killed in the melee. In a separate attack on the Autonomy Office in Abepura, a security officer, Markus Padama, was killed. Around 2:30am then police chief Daud Sihombing and then police superintendent Johny Wailan Usman ordered that the attackers be "hunted down".
The police launched a retaliatory attack against a group of mainly highland students who, according to subsequent investigations by a number of high profile legal aid and human rights associations, had nothing to do with either the attack on the police station or the attack on the Autonomy Office.
Over the following twenty-four hours, Brimob (Indonesia's mobile paramilitary police brigade) raided a series of nearby West Papuan student dormitories. Ninmin Hostel was the immediate target. The BTN Puskopad Abepura housing complex home to residents from Kotalima, Mamberano and West Wamena the Yapen Waropen hostel, and the Illaga University Students hostel, were also targeted by police.
One student, Elkius Suhuniap (male, 23-years-old) was fatally shot by police during the raids. Over a hundred others, including pregnant women and children, were rounded up by police and taken into police custody where they were systematically beaten, tortured and taunted with racist remarks.
One West Papuan student recalled the police beating him and spitting on him, saying "your mother eats pig and you have the brain of a pig " even with your college degree you won't get a job " You Papuans are stupid; stupid and yet you think you can be independent."
Two students, Ori Ndoronggi (male, 19-years-old) and Johny Karunggu (male, 20), died in police custody as a result of injuries sustained during torture. Another student, Agus Kabak (male, 19) was permanently incapacitated while a fourth student, Arnold Mundo Soklayo (male, 32), was crippled and later died in Jayapura as result of his injuries.
The students were tortured and beaten to death in the presence of Swiss journalist, Oswald Iten who had been arrested and detained previously for photographing an independence demonstration. The police told Iten that such violence was "normal" when a policeman had been killed.
Iten later wrote: "What I saw was unspeakably shocking. About half a dozen policemen were swinging their clubs at bodies lying on the floor and, oddly enough, they did not cry out; at most soft groans issued from them. After a few long seconds a guard saw me looking and struck his club against the bars of the cell block door.
I quickly went back to my usual spot, from where I could still see the clubs, staff and split bamboo whips at their work. Their ends were smeared with blood and blood sprayed the walls all the way up to the ceilings. Sometimes I saw the policemen hopping on the benches, continuing to strike blows from there or jumping back down on the bodies below."
Indonesia's national human rights commission, Komnas HAM, conducted an independent investigation into the attack. Twenty-five suspects were identified by the commission but only two were ultimately ordered to face trial by the Attorney General's Office. The Office gave no explanation why the remainder of suspects escaped prosecution. The two accused, however, were not arrested, and not only were they allowed to remain in their jobs, they were actually promoted. The Attorney General's Office obstructed investigations by the survivors legal team, and delayed the case well beyond the time limit stipulated by Law 26/2000 on Human Rights Courts.
When the court handed down their verdict last week, the survivors and their families broke into hysterics. One woman climbed onto a chair and yelled in disbelief that the judges had been unfair. In contrast, the group of Brimob soldiers who packed the courtroom cheered and started singing the Brimob anthem. Prominent Human rights defender, Todung Mulya Lubis, who is based in Jakarta, says the verdict will only add to Papuans feelings of alienation from the Unitary Republic of Indonesia.
Inside the court, representatives of Peace Brigades International accompanied the survivors, their families and friends, many of whom had received threatening phone calls and text messages or had been intimidated 'by persons unknown' in the lead up to the trial. Indonesian human rights advocates say they have been told by insiders that the judges involved in the case had been pressured by the authorities to deliver a not guilty verdict, and to refuse compensation to the survivors and their families. Also witnessing the proceedings were representatives of the European Union and the New Zealand and Canadian governments. No one from the Australian embassy was present.
Br. Budi Hernawan from the Catholic Office of Justice and Peace in Jaypura says "the Abepura verdict shows that human rights violations in West Papua are not taken seriously by the central government. The verdict demonstrates that there is no political will to deliver justice to the West Papuan people. The state is not even willing to protect the right to life for West Papuans."
The verdict was handed down just weeks after the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University released a report on the human rights situation in West Papua entitled Genocide in West Papua? The role of the Indonesian Security Services Apparatus.
The report, which took four years to compile, details a systemic policy of human rights violations of West Papuans, including the burning of entire villages, extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture at the hand of the Indonesian security forces. Both the Indonesian and Howard government questioned the veracity of the findings.
Democrats Senator Natasha Stott Despoja spoke to the Genocide in West Papua? Report in parliament, urging the Australian government to pursue a relationship with Indonesia that is based on being honest and open, on having a mutual respect for human rights and on recognising dignity and the importance of human life. Senator Stott Despoja also called on the Australian government to revisit our role in the internationally discredited 1969 Act of Free Choice under which Indonesia seized control of West Papua. Greens Senator Bob Brown then put forward a motion that notes the release of the report and calls on the Australian Government to investigate the claims in the report and report back to the Senate. Senator Brown's motion was opposed by Labor.
In recent years human rights violations in West Papua have steadily worsened. Jakarta's inconsistent policies, military operations,unwillingness to fully implement Special Autonomy legislations for the province, moves to partition the province into two, and lack of political will to address the core causes of the conflict, have all made matters worse. Jakarta now plans to send military forces withdrawn from Aceh to West Papua, where a new military command will be established.
The increase in troop numbers shows the central government's fear of the nonviolent movement that is challenging Jakarta's legitimacy and whose grievances are beginning to capture the attention of a growing transnational moral community.
The brutality of the Abepura case illustrates the gravity of the dire human rights situation in West Papua. Last week's verdict will only fuel West Papuan nationalism and strengthen West Papuans determination to be free from what is widely considered by West Papuans to be an illegal and illegitimate colonial occupation by Indonesia.
It's not hard to understand why. And Jakarta only has itself to blame.
Alex Rayfield is a researcher and activist working with the Australian West Papua Association.
Indonesia: Do you even think of us Papuans as human beings?
By West Papua posted 16 September 05
As Indonesian police get acquitted for murder and brutality again, what are you going to do in Australia to stop the Genocide on our next door neighbour?
Dear all friends around the world,
Please distribute my statement all over world and to the Indonesian embassy nearest you.
Let the world know what the Indonesian government is doing to my people today.
Indonesia: Do you even think of us Papuans as human beings?
Statement by Benny Wenda, Oxford, England. 12 September 2005
Have you seen photos of the bruised and battered faces of my people, kicked and beaten by Indonesian Police in their student hostel in Abepura in December 2000? I didn't just see photos.
I saw some of my brothers and sisters with my own eyes. Their faces were so mangled I could hardly recognise them. I saw their blood mixed with their tears. I also spent time with the families crying for their loved ones murdered by the Police on that horrible day.
Now Indonesia has added yet another injustice and insult to my people. Over the past few days we Papuans have heard that Indonesia's so-called justice system has acquitted the two senior Indonesian police officers responsible for the Abepura massacre because the brutal killing of three unarmed Papuans (two while already in police custody) and the cruel beating of at least 99 other innocent Papuan students do not meet the necessary criteria for "gross human rights violations".
Amnesty International has issued this strong condemnation, which the world's democracies must listen to:
"Today's verdict means that not a single member of Indonesia's security forces has been convicted of these horrific crimes after nearly five years of investigations and legal proceedings. The verdict also denied victims any compensation.
Despite the Indonesian government's overtures of reform and the establishment of Human Rights Courts, this verdict sends an alarming message to the victims of grave human rights abuses.
These failures to deliver justice and combat impunity illustrate both a flawed system and a lack of political will, which sets an extremely worrying precedent for other cases of grave human rights violations currently under investigation.
Today's verdict also risks giving a green light to future human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces."
When the judge announced the verdicts, my people cried with anger. At the same time, Indonesian police in the court room cheered the two criminal policemen and sang marching songs with contempt for the suffering of the Papuan people.
Surely Indonesia can never think that we Papuans will ever want to be part of Indonesia? Indonesia: Do you even think of us Papuans as human beings? We have seen during 42 years of illegal occupation that Papuan lives mean nothing to Indonesia. We know that Indonesia just wants our land, our trees, our gold and our oil but not us human beings.
We Papuans know that full independence is the only sure way to save us from Indonesian colonial greed and the annihilation of the Papuans as a people.
The name 'Abepura' should be known as the site of one of our Papuan universities, training my people for their futures in a Free West Papua, but Indonesia has made Abepura infamous around the world as a place of Indonesian state violence and contempt for the Papuan people. But Indonesia has made another big mistake. By letting these two police criminals go free, Indonesia has put into all our Papuan hearts an even greater yearning for FREEDOM.
God Bless our struggle. Papua Merdeka!
Chair of DeMMaK (The Koteka Tribal Assembly)
International Lobbyist in the UK for a Free West Papua
PO Box 1409 Oxford OX4 1UN England UK
Mobile: +44 (0) 7791629782
Free West Papua Campaign
Tel: +44 (0)1865 241200
By Alex Rayfield posted 15 September 05
Say no to Indonesia as a tourist destination
Australian tourists visiting Bali's nightspots will face random urine tests under an escalating anti-drugs crackdown on the Indonesian holiday island.
WHY IS THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT PLAYING 'DEATH' WITH AUSTRALIANS: There has been much controversy recently on whether the Australian Federal Police should have tipped-off the Indonesians over the arrest of the Bali Nine. Due to the fact that Indonesia executes convicted drug-traffickers, ACADP believes that any evidence collected by AFP should have been withheld from Indonesian authorities until they have a written guarantee not to pursue the death penalty for the Bali Nine.
'CORBY VIDEO HELP REBUFFED'?
On page19 of the BRISBANE "SUNDAY MAIL" there was an article entitled "CORBY VIDEO HELP REBUFFED". IF it is true, (the article which follows) it PROVES (IN LAW) the claim that OUR GOVERNMENT HAVE WITH-HELD EVIDENCE FROM THE LEGAL DEFENCE OF A CITIZEN.
It was me! 'New Corby trial'
SCHAPELLE Corby has been handed a second chance to fight for her freedom. But she got no second chances with the Daily Telegraph.
Australian man denies owning drug stash
AN Adelaide man facing up to 10 years in a Bali prison for drug possession has denied owning a stash of hashish allegedly found at his rented bungalow.
AUSTRALIANS PAY BRIBE TO VISIT CORBY IN BALI PRISON:
The Corby drug trial has become Bali's latest tourist attraction. Australians are taking time off to lend moral support to Schapelle Corby.
Corby lawyer pleads for Australian help
The lawyer for a Queensland woman facing drugs charges in Indonesia says it is not too late for Australian authorities to assist her defence.
THE DRUG-RIDDEN STREETS OF BALI:
Chris Allen, took to the streets of Bali and found it possible to buy a smorgasbord of illegal narcotics from dealers.
People: 'Prisoners' of Drugs'
People who are addicted to heroin usually take the drug because it relieves them of problems such as low self-esteem, distrust and fear of abandonment. They may have poor communication skills & poor relationship skills.
POSSESSION? OR INVASION?
UK: This absolutely preposterous idea/theory of allowing a person/s to be possibly charged with 'possession', if found to have a drug substance within their bloodstream, just goes to prove such hypocrisies which certain hierarchies feel justifies passing legislation, is another blow for democracy!
PLANNING TO TRAVEL OVERSEAS? BEFORE YOU GO, READ THIS!
Currently, 214 Australian citizens are languishing in prisons around the world. The majority of these having been convicted of drug-related crimes.
Govt, police 'let off the hook' Haneef inquiry
8 years ago