Obama: Stop funding Indonesian torture of Papuans

November 4, 2010

Indonesia has admitted that the torturers in a recent video were its soldiers. © Survival

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Survival is asking President Obama, who is due to visit Indonesia next week, to suspend US military assistance to Jakarta until its forces stop killing and torturing the people of West Papua.

Obama’s visit comes shortly after the emergence of shocking video footage showing Indonesian soldiers torturing two villagers in the West Papuan highlands. The Indonesian government has admitted that the torturers were its soldiers.

Controversially, in July this year, the Obama administration lifted its ban on assistance to Indonesia’s notorious elite special forces, Kopassus. Kopassus had been barred from receiving US military aid for more than a decade because of human-rights abuses including killings, disappearances and torture.

The President, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, will make his first official visit to the country since taking office.

Survival has sent a copy of the torture video to President Obama. The video is one of many ‘trophy’ videos and photos taken by Indonesian soldiers, who have a long history of human rights abuses in West Papua.

Survival’s US director Tess Thackara has written to the President urging him to suspend military cooperation until the culture of killing and torture with impunity in West Papua comes to an end. The letter urges Obama to call on Jakarta to end the very serious human rights abuses in the region and to bring those responsible to justice.

Tess Thackara said today, ‘For decades, the tribal people of West Papua have suffered appalling violence at the hands of the Indonesian military. Instead of increasing US assistance, President Obama should be using his influence to put a stop to the abuse.’

Download Survival’s letter

Note to Editors:
A week after reporting on the Papuan torture video, Survival International was targeted by a massive cyberattack which knocked its website offline. A number of other organizations that had also hosted the video on their websites were also targeted.

Video footage of Indonesian soldiers torturing Papuan tribal people (disturbing)

Papuan Tribes