News / Asia

Human Rights Groups Urge Indonesia to Stop Torture

On June 29, 2007 Johan Tererisa was arrested by Indonesian security officials for unfurling a banned flag that symbolizes Papua independence
On June 29, 2007 Johan Tererisa was arrested by Indonesian security officials for unfurling a banned flag that symbolizes Papua independence

Multimedia

Audio
Brian Padden

Human-rights advocates are calling for the Indonesian government to release more than 100 imprisoned political activists and to end its use of torture. Human Rights Watch says it has documented abuse being used to silence peaceful advocates for independence in the Papua and Maluku regions of the country.

Rights activists criticized the Indonesian government for what they say is the arbitrary arrest and torture of political activists in Papua and Maluku.

In a recent report, Human Rights Watch says it has found more than 100 cases of wrongful imprisonment and several cases of prisoners being beaten and injured.

Phil Robertson with Human Rights Watch says that in the cases they documented, the people arrested were independence activists, but were not advocating violence against the government.

"In many cases they took actions like raising a flag which happened to be banned or give a public speech," Robertson said. "Human Rights Watch takes the position that these are not actions that people should be arrested for. They are not actions people should be tortured for. And they are certainly not actions that people should be locked away for anywhere from five to 15 years for."

He says Indonesia has made great progress in building democratic institutions and protecting human rights in most of the country. But, he says, the government's conduct in the Papua and Maluku regions is a stain on the country's reputation.

The Indonesian government denies abusing prisoners and has announced plans to release some Papua independence activists.

For decades pro-independence movements have existed in both Papua and the southern Maluku islands. In addition to non-violent organizations, there is also an armed guerrilla movement in Papua and there have been incidents of sectarian violence in the Maluku region.

The human rights advocates say the Indonesian government has used treason laws to persecute peaceful activists displaying a separatist flag. And Human Rights Watch talked to one prisoner who said police from the anti-terrorist unit Detachment 88 beat him with iron rods, stones and slashed him with a bayonet.

In addition to being a violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Robertson says suppressing the moderate voices of peaceful activists will only increase support for extremists.

"A local official or a local policeman saying if you raise a flag it's automatically going to cause conflict, Robertson added. "What is quite clear if you arrest that person or put those people in jail, the people who are content to just waving a flag will be out of the picture leaving space for more radical elements to come in."

Human-rights groups urge the Indonesian government to not only release political prisoners and end all abusive practices, but to also prosecute officials involved in torture.

You May Like

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs