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Rights group: 'Police killing, raping civilians in Papua' JAKARTA - Security forces killed and beat unarmed civilians, raped women during operations against separatists in the province of Papua according to Human Rights Watch. Police chief General Sutanto denied any abuses were taking place in the remote region where mistrust between indigenous people and security forces runs high after years of military crackdowns.

"The police have undertaken many reforms," said General Sutanto. "The human rights situation in Papua is getting better." The allegations contained in the report hinged on interviews with victims and witnesses, all of whom anonymously due to fears of reprisal. The 96-page report covers investigations of eight alleged killings by police and military officers as well as several bloody beatings since 2005. "I was beaten with the end of a gun on my back, and with fists to my face. My mouth and eyes were smashed and bleeding," said one alleged victim.

The group also recorded two cases of rape - one of a 16-year old by a soldier and a married woman by police who accused her of supplying food for the separatists. The report tells that only one officer - a low ranking soldier - had faced prosecution over any of the abuses, he got 8 months in prison for killing a 16-year old boy.

Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored ballot of tribal leaders, which is seen as a sham ever since. A small insurgency of separatists has raged ever since the mostly Christian area. Tens of thousands have died as a result of military actions by Indonesian forces, say rights groups.

Since 2002, foreign journalists, diplomats and human rights workers are required to have permission - which is often denied - to enter the region. Once there, strict limits are imposed on freedom of movement and association. Human Rights Watch asked the government to open the area to independent observers. "By keeping the region closed to outside scrutiny, officials in Jakarta are receiving biased and partial accounts of what is taking place," said Joseph Saunders, the group's deputy program director. "Reliable information is essential if officials are genuinely interested in identifying problems and finding lasting solutions."



Posted in Crime @ 05 July 2007 17:58 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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