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[Joint Statement] Indonesia: Hold the Indonesian National Army accountable for committing torture against Papuan civilians 

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The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) alongside the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) strongly condemns the acts of torture committed by the Indonesian National Army against an indigenous Papuan man in the Gome district’s military post. 

Indonesian soldiers–who are reportedly part of the 300th Braja Wijaya Infantry Battalion from West Java–have allegedly taunted, beaten, and slashed the victim as he was placed inside an oil barrel. The incident was captured on video and became viral on social media in March 2024.

The incident itself, however, happened in February 2024. According to YLBHI, the torture occurred after the Indonesian Government extended its Cartenz Peace Operation, a joint operation by the army and the Indonesian National Police which enforces law and order among separatist groups in Papua. The incident raises questions on the way the peace operation is being conducted.

The army claimed that the victim–identified as Definus Kogoya–is a member of the West Papuan National Liberation Army (TPNPB) or officially referred to as Armed Criminal Group, the armed wing of Free Papua Movement. In addition, the army claimed that Definus was detained and tortured following a shootout involving him and two others, Warinus Kogoya and Alianus Murid. The army accused the three of planning to burn a public health center in Omukia village. 

Definus’ fate remains unclear. After admitting to the act of torture, the army issued an apology to Papuans and interrogated over 40 soldiers and detained 13 others suspected of involvement in the torture. 

The TPNBP denied its ties with the victims. Meanwhile, the families of Defianus and Alianius asserted that they were arrested at work–while they were fixing a client’s roof–and not during a shootout. 

Such claims from all parties involved, however, are yet to be independently verified. 


Call to action

Under international law, the prohibition against torture is absolute. There is no justification for torture. 

As Indonesia is a state party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights–both of which affirm the prohibition–the Indonesian Government is bound to prevent and punish any commission of torture in the country. 

We call on the Indonesian Government to conduct an independent investigation and to hold all perpetrators accountable. In addition, we urge the government to prevent future acts of torture, particularly in West Papua which has been subjected to the authorities’ longstanding violence and human rights abuses. The government must review its peace operation in Papua. Likewise, security forces must cease their violent militaristic approach. 

‘There will never be peace in Papua should the government continue to inflict generational trauma on the lives of Papuan people under the guise of security. The Indonesian Government must adopt a human rights-based approach to its peacebuilding strategy,’ said Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA 

‘YLBHI strongly condemns the practice of torture committed by TNI soldiers against Papuans. LBH-YLBHI urges Komnas HAM to immediately conduct an investigation; demand the perpetrators to surrender and be held accountable; and urge the TNI Commander to intervene to arrest the perpetrators,’ said Muhammad Isnur, Chairperson of YLBHI.

‘YLBHI also demands the President and the Indonesian Parliament to immediately stop the government’s security approach to resolving the Papuan conflict. The practice of various military operations outside of illegal wars–such as the Cartenz 2024 Peace Operation which is practiced with violence and torture–must be evaluated,’ Isnur added.