Anger has erupted in West Papua at the light sentences handed to three Indonesian soldiers responsible for torturing two West Papuans.
The soldiers received between eight and 10 months' jail for “insubordination” rather than the more serious charge of torture, The Australian said on January 24. They will be allowed to continue their military careers.
The soldiers were filmed in an infamous video in May torturing two West Papuan men. The footage included one of the victims, Tunaliwor Kiwo, having his genitals scorched with a stick. Kiwo later testified that he was tortured for two days before escaping when he learned of the soldiers' plans to execute him.
Indonesian authorities had previously tried to ignore the case, and even attempted to pass off a different trial as relating to the torture video.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono added further insult when he said the incident was “minor”, the Sydney Morning Herald said on January 25.
The January 24 Jakartaglobe.com reported that Markus Haluk, secretary general of the Papua Central Highland Students Association, said the trial “robs the victims and their families of any sense that justice is being [served]”.
West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia for more than four decades. There is strong support among Papuans for self-determination, as revealed by a leaked US cable released by WikiLeaks in December.
However, the independence movement faces strong repression, including a ban on flying the West Papuan “Morning Star” flag.
Despite WikiLeaks revealing the US was aware of ongoing abuses by the Indonesian military in West Papua, the US government re-established military ties in July with Indonesian special forces.