Salem Radio Network News Sunday, September 26, 2021

World

Indonesia apologises for ‘excessive force’ against deaf Papuan man

By Kate Lamb and Agustinus Beo Da Costa

JAKARTA (Reuters) – The Indonesian government has apologised for the actions of two air force officers it said used “excessive force” to pin down the head of a deaf, indigenous Papuan man after a video of the incident was shared online, drawing widespread condemnation.

Tensions have long simmered between Indonesian security forces and the indigenous people of Papua, a remote and resource-rich region that was bought under Indonesian control after a controversial but U.N.-sanctioned vote in 1969.

The video, shot in the Papuan town of Merauke on Monday, shows an altercation between the Papuan man and a food stall owner that was broken up by two uniformed military officers.

One officer forces the man onto the pavement with his hands behind his back, while the other shoves his boot over the Papuan man’s head, the footage shows.

In a statement released on Wednesday, presidential chief of staff Moeldoko said his office condemned what it characterised as “a form of excessive force and unlawful conduct beyond the applicable standards and procedures”.

The statement also said the Papuan man was unarmed, did not resist and had been identified as a person with a disability.

In a separate statement, Indonesian Air Force spokesman First Marshal Indan Gilang Buldansyah also apologised, saying the two officers involved were currently being detained and the case was being investigated.

In 2018, a series of protests erupted across the region in response to perceived racism by Indonesian security forces toward Papuan students in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta, after the students were subjected to derogatory taunts.

Veronica Koman, an Indonesian human rights lawyer who shared the video on Twitter, drew a comparison between the Papuan man and the treatment of African American George Floyd, who was killed by a U.S. police officer in May, 2020.

“In 2016, a West Papuan student, Obby Kogoya in Yogyakarta, had his head stamped on by Indonesian security forces, but the court found him guilty instead,” she said.

(Reporting by Kate Lamb in Sydney and Agustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta. Additional reporting by Stanley Widianto in Jakarta and Fanny Potkin in Singapore; Editing by James Pearson)

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