International

Indonesia Admits Soldiers Actions In Papua "Excessive"

A naked man lies in the road. He is bound. Dusty. Soldiers yell, "Burn him!" A smoldering stick is thrust into his genitals. The grainy cell-phone video shows the work of Indonesian soldiers interrogating people they suspect of being separatists on the island of Papua. The BBC reports the Indonesian government admits the people were soldiers.

Djoko Suyanto, the Indonesian Co-ordinating Minister for Security, said that the soldiers had reason to believe the Papuan villagers they caught were dangerous.

"The excessive actions that we have seen in this video, which has been spread on the internet, and on YouTube, show unprofessional conduct by members of our military in the field.

"But the soldiers suspected that the Papuan men they had caught are members of groups who have committed violent actions before in Papua. They found weapons on them when they were caught," he said.

But human rights groups say the Papuan villagers who were tortured were farmers.

Elsewhere in the video a group of soldiers kicks and taunts a group of men kneeling on the ground. In another segment a man is kicked and a knife held against his face. At the end of the video soldiers are shown repeatedly putting a plastic bag over a man's head as they interrogate him.

The video was posted earlier this week and quickly became something of a sensation. The video can be seen at the Asian Human Rights Commission website, just a warning, even though it's been edited somewhat, it's still pretty graphic.

The Indonesian military has long been accused of human rights abuses in Papua. There is a large military presence on the island because of a number of separatist groups. Some Papuans claim that even though home to the world's largest gold mine, their province doesn't benefit from those resources.

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