Kopassus & Police Brutality

Jun 30th, 2009, in News, by

Two international reports on police and military brutality and abuses of human rights.

Police

An Amnesty International report, "Unfinished Business: Police Accountability in Indonesia", says beatings, torture, extortion, and even murder are still habitually carried out by Indonesian police, although some improvements have been made to police culture in recent years. amnesty.org

Dozens of case studies are looked at, such as that of Hartoyo, arrested with his male partner in Aceh in 2007 for unclear reasons:

Hartoyo said that around six or seven police officers beat him in the stomach, legs and feet. The police also allegedly forced him and his partner to strip naked and perform oral sex and other sex acts in front of them. At one point, a police officer allegedly pushed his rifle against Hartoyo’s anus. Hartoyo and his partner were then taken outside into a courtyard and were made to squat on the ground in their underwear. Police officers sprayed them with cold water from a hosepipe for around 15 minutes. When his partner asked for permission to go to the toilet, a police officer allegedly forced him to urinate on Hartoyo’s head.

Very poor often homeless criminals who "bolak balik" - repeatedly offend - are said to be sometimes summarily executed. One man tells

Iwan was 20 and he was my neighbour. We were very close. He was just a street kid. He had no parents or job, so he stole wallets. He often went in and out of jail. While I was in detention at Polres [District Police Station] … he came in as well. It was his fourth time. On the seventh day in detention, five buser [support staff from the Criminal Investigation Division] took him. They took him at 1am. They said, ‘I’m sick of seeing your face, get out’. He was handcuffed and taken away. He was shot at the back of the
Polres.....At 3am, he was returned to the cell. There were bullets in his head and chest, at the back. I saw the holes. They had used a small pistol. We were told to mop up the blood. The police said, ‘if you bolak balik [go in and out of jail] this will happen to you too’.

A 21 year old prostitute tells of one arrest

On the way to Polres East Jakarta, they were grabbing me and touching me saying, you’re so young, why aren’t you in school, you know, that kind of stuff. When we got to the station, they gave us a choice. They said we could get off if we paid one million rupiah or if we had sex with them. Three of the girls agreed to have sex with them. I point blank refused to do either. Our pimps have paid them enough already.

Kopassus

The second report, "What Did I Do Wrong?", by New York-based Human Rights Watch, details cases of brutality by Indonesian special forces - Komando Pasukan Khusus, Kopassus - in the town of Merauke in Papua.

Twenty people were interviewed, with six cases looked at in detail, all involving almost random, spur of the moment, acts of violence by Kopassus soldiers, not directed against Papuans thought of as separatists but for ordinary law and order matters, primarily public drunkenness, or other, obscure reasons, such as the case of Nicolaas.

In April of 2008 five Kopassus soldiers raided the home of Nicolaas, 27, apparently because he had held a party the night before, and took him and two of his friends, Andrew, 25, and Bert, 26, to the Kopassus mess hall. Thereafter the men claim they underwent a two hour ordeal:

They stripped us down to just our underwear. They immediately beat us, without saying anything. They used a water hose. They beat us till we bled and had cuts. Then they asked us to go to the tennis court. They forced us to face the sun and chew chilies... We were not allowed to spit. It was very hot. After eating the chilies, knowing that most people in Merauke are Catholics, they asked us to say “The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father in Heaven)” and “Hail Mary.” But I refused, saying that it is not a holy place, not a place to pray. My two other friends did pray. The Kopassus soldiers kicked me. They stripped Andrew totally naked. A Kopassus soldier took his picture with a cell phone camera. Many people saw us being tortured in the compound. One elderly Papuan lady cried when she saw us, helplessly, being tortured by Kopassus soldiers.

Afterwards the soldiers asked them to take a shower and offered to treat the cuts with lotion, but the men refused. They were then sent home.

It is said that the complaints of ordinary people against Kopassus soldiers are ignored by the police, who in any case have no jurisdiction over Kopassus soldiers. Police are said to be fearful of retaliation should they report cases to military police. hrw.org


24 Comments on “Kopassus & Police Brutality”

  1. avatar Arie Brand says:

    And when will digital power ever make an end to this:

    Indonesian police accused of torture

  2. avatar ET says:

    From a testimony in Amnesty International’s report on violent police behaviour in Indonesia:

    “I was stripped and asked to perform oral sex on them. I was urinated on, and they pointed a pistol barrel at my anus,” he said.

    If an indonesian policeman would ask me to perform oral sex on him he will sing forever like a soprano.

  3. avatar diego says:

    ET,

    In the news you passed on to us, I couldn’t find that juicy part. Where is it?

  4. avatar Odinius says:

    ET gave the link to the wrong ABC article. It’s in this one

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/25/2608764.htm

  5. avatar ET says:

    Yes, sorry, the link I gave pointed to a report on Merauke abuses in which the Amnesty International report was linked as a related story.

  6. avatar Cukurungan says:

    And here is a story on a Papua murder cover up:

    http://www.theage.com.au/world/aussie-spy-data-points-to-papua-murder-coverup-20090627-d0iv.html

    Pak Arie Brand Yth,

    Please do not cry too much about innocent death of two US citizen, even FBI gladly help to cover up this murder because the price of two US citizen is still too cheap compare with US revenue from milking papuan, as you can see below:

    http://asiacalling.kbr68h.com/index.php/archives/130

  7. avatar andrey says:

    Like policemen in usa never beat up a black motorist??

    Policemen do this everywhere.. but this kind of report only came when it fit the overall “agenda”.

    If you look hard enough you are bound to find some misconduct.. but “polisi juga manusia” right?

  8. avatar madrotter says:

    i was always under the impression that they get body-snatched soon as they join the force…

  9. avatar Arie Brand says:

    “Polisi juga manusia” ? Which ordinary human being forces people to piss on the heads of others, or forces people to perform oral sex on them or summarily murders them when he is sick of seeing their faces?

    This systematic mistreatment of the vulnerable is not to be compared to occasional police brutality in countries where this force is kept under civilian control (I grant you that the USA is not the best example of that). I can’t understand why you are looking for excuses. I assume that you are an ordinary Indonesian citizen and would therefore have a vital interest in having a disciplined force around instead of a group of rogues in uniform. But you apparently go on the nationalist tour seeing these reports as an insult to the nation. Not a very intelligent reaction I dare say.

  10. avatar Arie Brand says:

    What do ‘Orang kecil’ talk about when they sit around. Well, about many things. But this is a small fragment of what Allan Nairn had to report on their talk about people in prison:

    “Duduk – Duduk, Ngobrol – Ngobrol. Sitting Around Talking, in Indonesia.

    Sitting around in a house in Indonesia over green agar-agar (seaweed gelatin) for diarrhea, the talk is of the “dog” POLRI police, the “sadis” TNI army, the local mob boss who likes to rape his servants (the servants are friends of this family), a framed son in prison due to lack of a well-timed payoff and his own culpable stupidity, …

    You never really own anything if you’re poor. Its just a matter of time. You accumulate a little property and, then, if you’re unlucky, somebody steals it, or the police escort a bulldozer in, and simply level the house. But if you’re luckier, you’re compelled to sell (or pawn) your property to pay a series of, say, important bribes for which you actually get something in return, in this case the right of that locked-up son to eat soft rice instead of hard rice so that, on the way down, it doesn’t get stuck in his throat and trigger his fits of fainting asthma. That payoff costs about 70 US cents per meal, in addition to garbage money, key money, do-not-break-his-nose-this-week money, let-your-mother -visit money, toilet visit money, and 11 other kinds of money, if I counted correctly.

    No soft-on-crime liberals, the family said that the kid deserved to do some time, though the offense was non-violent, nobody knew it was an offense, and the conviction flowed from a larger, fake, charge. The boy had screwed up, embarrassed the family, and now the predator state had its hooks in. These payoffs were bringing the family down. They were selling off everything.

    Imagine, someone said, if they were really poor people, because in local terms, they weren’t, yet. The women rise at 4 am to make and sell mini cakes in the traditional market, on a good day hoping to clear a profit of 2 dollars 70 US cents. The men, when there’s work, sell durian fruit by the roadside or do pickup construction. That makes them “rakyat kecil,” literally, society’s small people; essentially, regular folks. But not really “orang susah” — people with woes. Those are the poor people, one family member had explained, when we met years ago.

    But today, in the house, as we all talked, the one they really felt for was the poor washerwoman down the alley who makes $18 a month and couldn’t pay the bribe to get her son a cell — a room about the size of an American kitchen, which accommodates 30 guys. So the authorities locked him, squatting, in the toilet — a very slippery hole in the floor. That’s where he’ll live until she comes across. He’ll have a lot of visitors.”

  11. avatar andrey says:

    ari dont kid your self,
    it is only “structural” and “organized” when it is not happening in a western country.
    so we never talked about “organized abuse” by us military in baghdad, for example.

    as for the hidden agenda.. you only need to open the website of Radio New Zealand.
    From the name, this must be a publicly funded agency.. but try read some of their papua related news.. nothing less than OPM Press Release distribution central.

  12. avatar David says:

    “I was stripped and asked to perform oral sex on them. I was urinated on, and they pointed a pistol barrel at my anus,” he said.

    That was the ABC report, actually in the Amnesty report it was

    The police also allegedly forced him and his partner to strip naked and perform oral sex and other sex acts in front of them. At one point, a police officer allegedly pushed his rifle against Hartoyo’s anus.

  13. avatar madrotter says:

    i’m afraid that arie tell’s it like it is, you wouldn’t believe some of the things that happens in these little interrogationrooms

  14. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Andrey, I already granted you that the USA doesn’t provide the most shining example of civil liberties but to come with the Iraq situation as representative for their usual practices at home is of course nonsense.

    And aboout Papua: to claim that the bad news from there is all based on OPM press releases is even more egregious nonsense. I had first hand information about the situation there from the Australian film maker Mark Worth who was married to a girl from Biak. I say ‘was’ because, five years ago when he was only forty five, he came in a mysterious way to his end in a hotel in Sentani (not far from Jayapura) after he fell sick on a plane back home and had to be taken off. You can read my suspicions about this by googling on his name, ‘pacific media watch’ and mine.

    In his film “Land of the Morning Star’, which was commissioned by the ABC, much bad news was suppressed because otherwise the ABC would have never accepted it.

    Indonesian misbehavior in the territory was there right from the start. I know because I was there (yes, I am that old). But you don’t have to take my word for it. Listen to Eliezer Bonay who was the first Papuan Governor of the territory after the Indonesian take over and no doubt chosen for that office because intially he was deemed to be solidly pro-Indonesian. In an interview given in 1981, when he was in exile in Sweden, he declared:

    “As soon as the Indonesians arrived in our country, totally unexpected things began to happen. There were numerous brutalities, theft, torture, maltreatment, many things that had not happened before … When the Indonesians came, they took literally everything … even air conditioners firmly installed in walls. All of them, officials and soldiers, behaved in the same way. Our people looked on, and laughed to themselves, thinking: “Is this how they are going to run things here, taking down mirrors, wallfixtures, dismantling everything and taking them away?”( See Budiardjo, C. & Liem Soei Liong (1983), West Papua; The obliteration of a people, London: Tapol pp.27-28).

  15. avatar DumadiSatrio says:

    @andrey
    “so we never talked about “organized abuse” by us military in baghdad”

    Who’s we? I do… so has like every news paper in the world.
    Bringing things into the open and discussing them are a great step in correcting problems

  16. avatar andrey says:

    Ari, you are quoting the few papuan the dutch prepared for their puppet regime after they left which was in contravention of what was agreed in the new york round table agreement. They are nothing less than dutch collaborator, enemy of the people, people who benefit from the occupation, selling the soul of their nation.

  17. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Andrey, mouthing slogans won’t shield you from the facts. Eliezer Bonay was chosen by Indonesia, not the Dutch, to become its first Governor in the province. No doubt Jakarta had good reasons to believe that he was solidly pro-Indonesian – which, in fact, he might have been at first until the horrible facts became too obtrusive.

    You are talking about the New York Agreement. Have you ever looked at it? I had good reason to look at it many times when I served in the UNTEA transitional government that had to implement some of its provisions. About my experiences during that period, and the whole pre-history of the matter, you can read here :http://webdiary.com.au/cms/?q=blog/417

    The New York agreement provided, among other things, for a free and fair plebiscite in which the original population of the region could decide whether to join Indonesia or to become independent. There is international agreement that this so-called ‘act of free choice’, organised by Indonesia in 1969, was a sham and a fraud even though the UN was conned in approving it.

    The Indonesian record in Papua is absolutely disastrous. According to a report in the New Statesman of 13th March 2006 more than 100,000 Papuans have died at the hands of the Indonesian military – and this is a modest estimate.

    These things will not be forgotten in the province itself. People have long memories when it comes to murder and mistreatment. The classic case of historically long memories is Ireland. British mistreatment over the centuries still determined people’s attitude until recently. If your country ever wants to come to grips with the problem the first step has to be acknowledgment of the horrible things that have happened and are still happening. Mouthing ‘nationalist’ slogans will not impress anybody, least of all the people concerned.

  18. avatar BrotherMouzone says:

    @Andrey

    Like policemen in usa never beat up a black motorist??

    Policemen do this everywhere.. but this kind of report only came when it fit the overall “agenda”.

    When abuses like this happen in the US, the UK, or Australia – they make the headlines because they are the exception. In Indonesia, these cases are the norm.

    To illustrate; a gay friend of mine was pulled out of a bar in Bali last year by police and tortured; beaten and cut then soaked with chilli-water and sewage. He was one of a number of people treated in the same manner. In the US this would be a national news headline; here? My friend didn’t even think about reporting it – it would have just got him into more trouble.

  19. avatar Odinius says:

    BrotherMouzone said:

    When abuses like this happen in the US, the UK, or Australia – they make the headlines because they are the exception. In Indonesia, these cases are the norm.

    While I tend to agree with your general thrust, don’t forget that there are plenty of examples of police brutality in those countries that do not get reported. However, there is still a key difference. I think it’s the sense of moral outrage that emerges when police brutality is reported. In democratic, developed countries, people expect the security forces to abide by certain limitations, and view the government as accountable to the citizenry. That leads to demands–often successful–placed on security forces to not exceed their mandate.

    In ex-authoritarian, developing world countries like Indonesia (also Thailand, Mexico, etc.), I think people expect the police to be brutal and inefficient keepers of the peace, and don’t expect government to be held accountable. Thus there’s little outrage when police brutality emerges in the news. Without that outrage, there’s no concerted thrust to keep the police honest.

    Just my Rp200…

  20. avatar BrotherMouzone says:

    @Odinius

    In ex-authoritarian, developing world countries like Indonesia (also Thailand, Mexico, etc.), I think people expect the police to be brutal and inefficient keepers of the peace, and don’t expect government to be held accountable. Thus there’s little outrage when police brutality emerges in the news. Without that outrage, there’s no concerted thrust to keep the police honest.

    Agreed – it is what people expect; that’s the problem. I suspect that all of those countries with (relatively) professional security forces reached their own tipping points at some stage over the last 50-100 years where they stopped accepting goonish behavior from public employees.

    As somebody mentioned earlier in this thread; the advent of new technologies (most of the population now has a working video camera in their handphone) should accelerate this. I know many Indonesians that are frustrated with the situation but you’re right when you say there is not yet any real public outrage. Yet.

  21. avatar royal says:

    no one should tolerate crimes, violence, and tortures. Look at objectively. Dont potray it on ur vested interests. Look Abu Grhaib scandals, Guantanamo prisoners, and Iraq invasion, etc. Look the exploitation in Freeport, HR violations in East Timor, please look in your humanity insights.

    Let’s improve the situation by love and peace, not by hatred. Lucky those who share the suffering of humanity.

    may peace prevail on earth

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