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Media Release

Jakarta/Sydney, 29th October 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be in Indonesia from 1st until 2nd November 2010 to meet the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Prime Minister will discuss with the President the issue of economic, security, development and environment challenges.

In term of security cooperation, the Australian government has paid $38.3 million over five years to the Indonesia Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (ICLEC) to deal with transnational crime. In addition Australia implemented a $10 million four-year initiative to help Indonesia build its counter-terrorism capacity in three priority areas.

Meanwhile there are serious allegations that Detachment 88, the Indonesian police elite counter-terrorism unit, has been committing human rights abuses in Ambon, 23 people were arrested on 3rd August 2010 during the President’s visit. These human rights abuses involved arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other degrading treatment, restricting legal aid lawyers to provide legal assistance to them, restricting of family members to visit the suspects in prison.

Furthermore from 5th until 20th August 2010, the Indonesian National Police (POLRI) held security operations in Ambon under the code name Mutiara Banda Siwa Lima 2010 or Pearl Banda Shiva Five. This operation was under the direct command of national police chief, Gen Bambang Hendarso Danuri, and involved 1153 police personnel, 20 of them members of Detachment 88.

In North Sumatra, Detachment 88 led security operations against the alleged terrorism network in the case of the robbery of the Syndicate Bank CIMB Niaga (19th September 2010, Tanjung Balai and Silver Overlay, North Sumatra), in which 2 people were shot, 2 people were arrested and one person escaped. The suspects had been tortured by Detachment 88 before they were sent to the police national headquarters in Jakarta. Meanwhile their wives and children were also detained in Mapolres Tanjung Balai in a room 2 x 2,5 meter for one week. The suspects cannot get access to a lawyer, except the lawyer that Detachment 88 was going to provided.

Although the Indonesia government admitted that the men seen torturing a Papuan in a video uploaded on the internet were members of the Indonesian National Army (TNI) and the government has promised to investigate, the Indonesian human rights NGOs reported in 2008 there were at least 290 cases of torture committed by military and police in Papua during the period 1997-2007, but until now there has never been any attempt by the government to follow up on these reports.

According to the Association of Independent Journalists (AJI) there are at least 5 cases of violence against journalists in Papua in the year 2010. In July 2010, Ardiansyah Matrais who was a local journalist from Merauke TV and the tabloid JUBI, was found dead after he received threats after reporting illegal logging in Keerom.

KontraS and Indonesian Solidarity call on the Prime Minister Julia Gillard to raise the issues with President Yudhoyono that:

  • The promise of Indonesian government to investigate and persecute the perpetrators of horrific human rights abuse on the video (which Indonesian government has admitted were by members of the TNI) must be fulfilled.
  • Any involvement of Detachment 88 in human rights abuses must be prosecuted.
  • Any funding for Indonesian security forces such as Detachment 88 need to be made dependent on human rights mechanisms, because there is strong evidence that elements within POLRI has been involved in human rights abuses in dealing with peaceful demonstrations, activists and political prisoners especially in Maluku and West Papua province.


Media inquiry can be contacted to Haris Azhar, a coordinator of KontraS, the Commission for
Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, on + 6281513302342
or
Eko Waluyo is a program coordinator of
Indonesian Solidarity is an independent non-profit human rights NGO, on +61416809107