UA: Arbitrary arrests, torture and killings following violence at Yotefa Market

26 Nov 2014
TAPOL / KPKC GKI

Dear Mr Mendez

Indonesia: Arbitrary arrests, torture and killings following violence at Yotefa Market, Abepura

We are writing to you on behalf of TAPOL regarding a violent incident which occurred on 2 July 2014 at Yotefa Market in Abepura, Papua, Indonesia, after a policeman was killed while attempting to break up a dice game. Police conducted a sweep of the area making 40 arbitrary arrests, opening fire on a public bus and its passengers and torturing four men. During the police sweeping three students were killed in different locations near the market place by unknown masked assailants. All the victims were indigenous Papuans from the highlands.

These events took place in the context of ongoing conflict in West Papua in which state authorities and security forces take a hardline security approach and stigmatise the indigenous population as separatists, particularly those from the highlands region. We are concerned that this pattern will continue to worsen. We are also concerned that the victims’ right to remedy will not be fulfilled by the Indonesian government.

We believe that police conduct during this incident violated the jus cogens prohibition on torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as set out in the UN Convention Against Torture, the right to freedom from discrimination and equality before the law, as provided for in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the prohibition on arbitrary arrest and detention as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention and Imprisonment.

Issues: Arbitrary detention, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, discrimination, police violence.

Executive summary

On 2 July 2014, following the death of a police officer in Yotefa Market, police from Abepura carried out sweeping raids which resulted in the torture of four indigenous farmers by police and by migrant mobs with state-sanctioned impunity, as well as the arbitrary arrest and detention of forty people. While the raids were occurring, three indigenous Papuan students were killed by masked assailants in the same area.

This incident is part of an ongoing pattern of discrimination in West Papua, where indigenous Papuans, and particularly those from the highlands, are targeted by police for arbitrary arrest and detention and are subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and in some cases, extrajudicial killings. Indigenous Papuans are targeted because of their ethnicity, blamed for crimes and stigmatized as separatists, with a blanket assumption that they are connection to the independence movement. The situation is exacerbated by escalating racial tensions between indigenous Papuans and large communities of migrants from other parts of Indonesia living in Papua.

The actions of the police constitute violations of the most basic principles of international human rights law, including the peremptory norm prohibition on torture, the prohibition on arbitrary arrest and detention, the right to be free from racial discrimination and the right to equality before the law. To date, these gross violations of human rights law have not been fully or effectively investigated, the perpetrators have acted with impunity and the victims have not received any form of justice, reparation or remedy.

Facts of the case

At approximately 15:00 Eastern Indonesia Time on 2 July 2014, a group of people were gambling with dice in front of the public bus terminal in Yotefa Market, Abepura, in the coastal provincial capital of Jayapura. Two policemen approached the group and attempted to break up the game, but the situation escalated into a physical confrontation, with people from the marketplace intervening and attacking the policemen. According to local NGOs, the police regularly collect bribes in return for allowing illegal gambling to take place. On this occasion the gamblers denied the police their usual bribe, causing a confrontation. One police officer, Asriadi, was killed and his firearm was taken by an unknown member of the crowd. After the death of Asriadi the majority of stallholders and shoppers fled the marketplace, anticipating further violence.

While the men taking part in the dice game and the surrounding crowd were from a variety of migrant and indigenous backgrounds, including coastal and highlands people, police arriving later at the scene decided, without investigation or basis, that highlanders had been responsible for the death of their fellow officer and/or the theft of the weapon.

At approximately 17:00, police began a sweep of the marketplace and of several residential areas inhabited by the indigenous people originating from the highlands, including Kilo 9 in Koya and Tanah Hitam in Abepura. Police fired three warning shots in the marketplace, then opened fire on a public bus as it began to leave for Koya.

Two of the passengers on the bus, indigenous Papuans highlanders Meki Pahabol and Abis Kabak, were attacked. They are both farmers from Kilo 9, Koya, who had come to the market to sell their produce. After hearing the warning shots, they had boarded the bus to return to Koya for safety. Meki Pahabol tried to flee the bus but was set upon by non-indigenous migrant residents who beat him with fists, hammers and wooden planks as police watched without intervening. Meki Pahabol attempted to escape, but was chased, beaten and stabbed by a second group of migrants. He was taken to Bhanyangkara Police Hospital along with eight other men and was then taken to Abepura sub-district police station and held in custody until 7 July 2014.

Once Meki Pahabol had been set upon, police then dragged Abis Kabak from the bus and beat him severely. The policemen then delivered him to the group of migrants, who beat him again with fists, hammers and wooden planks until he fell unconscious. Once again, police witnessed the violence and did not intervene. Abis Kabak was eventually taken to the Bhanyangkara Police Hospital with eight other injured men, including Meki Pahabol, where the police continued to attack him. While still in Bhanyangkara Hospital, Meki and Abis were forced to stand up facing the wall so they could not see their torturers’ faces. They were kicked in the head by officers wearing heavy boots. One officer struck Abis on the right temple with an iron stand used to hold infusion bags for drips. The wound caused by the blow required stitches. Abis also required jaw surgery following the attack and was unable to eat solid food for four weeks. An injury which had been inflicted on his left eye was stitched at the hospital without antiseptic or anaesthesia, causing long-term damage and impairing his sight. Doctors at Abepura public hospital subsequently recommended that the wound be reopened and re-stitched because of the poor quality of the treatment provided at the Bhanyangkara Police Hospital. The men were subsequently taken into custody at Abepura police station, along with 17 other men who had been arbitrarily arrested in the marketplace. Despite his injuries, Abis Kabak was held in custody until 8 July without charge. On 8 July he was taken to Dian Harapan Hospital for further treatment, where he was denied access to family and visitors, and was finally released at approximately 12:00 on 11 July 2014.

Three indigenous students from the highlands region became victims of mysterious killings at the same time as the violence in the marketplace was escalating. Demi Kepno, a 28-year-old student at STIKOM YAPIS University in Jayapura, was kidnapped at 16:30 in front of a supermarket in Tanah Hitam, Abepura, by several men in plainclothes driving a grey Toyota Avanza minivan. The kidnapping was witnessed by his girlfriend, who provided testimony to the civil society investigation. Kepno’s dead body was taken to Bhanyangkara Police Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds to his back and torso, a large knife wound to the right shoulder and extensive facial bruising due to blunt force trauma.

Yenias Wandikbo, a student aged 20, was returning from Enggros beach on 2 July 2014 when when he was struck on the back of the head and on the forehead by an unknown assailant and was killed. The attack occurred in front of the YAMAS campus, just 100 metres from Yotefa Market.

Sabusek Kabak, aged 24, was a law student at Umel Mandiri University in Jayapura. On the afternoon of 2 July 2014 he was on his way to Kilo 9, Koya from Liboran student Dormitory in Abepura. He was killed in front of a branch of Bank Papua located near Yotefa Market. Like Demi Kepno, his body was taken to Bhanyangkara Police Hospital.

On the day following the violence in the marketplace, police conducted a connected raid on a house at Kilo 9 in Koya, allegedly seeking the stolen firearm. Residents of the house fled the approaching police, but Urbanus Pahabol and Asman Pahabol were unable to escape in time. The men were held at gunpoint, handcuffed, blindfolded and then forced to enter a police truck. Once they exited the vehicle, they were beaten and kicked by police officers in turn whilst being questioned about the missing firearm of the officer who had been killed in the marketplace the day before.

Asman suffered injuries to his wrist and elbow which caused such severe pain that he wet himself. His left eye and his back were injured with a wooden club and he was kicked four times in the ribs by officers wearing heavy boots. Finally, he was hit in the head with a hammer that the police had taken from Urbanus’ house. Urbanus was beaten, then forced to climb into a cold water basin, where he was kept for five hours before being dragged out and forced to march by police. He was also stabbed in the leg with a police bayonet blade.

The two men were taken to the police station at approximately 15:00. On the way to the station they were whipped with a white electricity cable. Urbanus’ injuries were so severe that he had to be diverted to Bhanyangkara Police Hospital and given twelve stitches before finally reaching Abepura police station. On their third day in custody, the two men were interrogated about their involvement in the dice game in the marketplace and their involvement in the Free West Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, OPM). When Asman denied involvement he was forced to squat in the station while officers beat him with fists and boots and tortured him with a knife to force him to confess.

Both men were released on 7 July 2014, along with Meki Pahabol and 19 other men who had been detained in connection with the marketplace violence. Three of the men were from Sentani, 12 were from Abepura and four from Kilo 9 in Koya.

Aside from the arbitrary detention and torture, property was seized by police without a warrant and was not returned to the lawful owners. The property taken included IDR 1,400,000, a mobile phone, a laptop, three machetes and two cartons of cigarettes.

It is notable that each of the victims of torture, arbitrary detention and mysterious killings was a native Papuan highlander and that they were targeted specifically because of their ethnicity. Other individuals were exempted from attack because they were not of highland origin and the mob who attacked Meki Pahabol and Abis Kabak in the marketplace was made up of migrants from other islands in Indonesia. Police did not intervene when the men committing assault were migrants, but targeted native Papuans from the highlands for arrests and further violence, without having carried out any investigation of the incident at the market. 

Attached to this Urgent Appeal are photographs documenting the injuries suffered by Abis Kabak, Meki Pahabol, Urbanus Pahabol and Asman Pahabol, as well as photographs of the corpses of Yenias Wendikbo, Sabusek Kabak and Demi Kepno.

Name

Age and sex

Work

Wounds

Instruments used

Perpetrator

Yenias Wandikbo

 

20, male

Student

Killed on the afternoon of 2 July 2014 after being struck on the forehead and back of the head in front of Yamas Campus in Tanah Hitam, Abepura.

Blunt instrument

Unknown

Demy Kepno

28, male

Student, STIKOM YAPIS University Jayapura

Kidnapped at 16:30 in front of Multi Grosir in Tanah Hitam, Abepura by men in plainclothes driving a grey Toyota Avanza. His body was taken to Bhanyangkara Police Hospital. Prior to his death he suffered

multiple gunshot wounds to his back and torso, a large knife wound to the right shoulder and extensive facial bruising.

Gun, knife, blunt instrument / fists

Unknown

Sabusek Kabak

24, male

Law student, Umel Mandiri University Jayapura

Killed on the afternoon of 2 July 2014 in front of Bank Papua in Yotefa Market, Abepura, while travelling to Kilo 9, Koya from Liboran Dormitory in Abepura.

Unknown

Unknown

Meki Pahabol

 

14, male

Farmer

Severely beaten by a migrant mob on 2 July 2014 with fists, hammers and wooden planks as police watched without intervening. Chased, beaten and stabbed by a second group of migrants without police intervention. Beaten and kicked in the head by police at Bhanyangkara Police Hospital.

Fists, hammers, knives, boots and wooden planks.

Police from Abepura sub-district police station (Polsek) under the command of Yulius Yawan, Head of Abepura sub-district police station (Kapolsek) and migrant mobs with police complicity

Asman Pahabol

 

17, male

Farmer

Severely beaten by police on 3 July 2014. Suffered injuries to his wrist and elbow which caused such severe pain that he wet himself. Left eye and back injured with a wooden club, kicked four times in the ribs by officers wearing heavy boots. Whipped with a white electricity cable and hit in the head with a hammer.

Fists, wooden club, boots, white electricity cable, hammer

Police from Abepura sub-district police station (Polsek) under the command of Yulius Yawan, Head of Abepura sub-district police station (Kapolsek)

Yan Urbanus Pahabol

35, male

Farmer

Severely beaten on 3 July 2014 by police following a raid on his home. Stabbed in the left leg with a police bayonet blade. Tortured by police with immersion in cold water trough for five hours and forced marching. Whipped with a white electricity cable. Required twelve stitches.

Police bayonet, fists, boots, cold water trough, white electricity cable

Police from Abepura sub-district police station (Polsek) under the command of Yulius Yawan, Head of Abepura sub-district police station (Kapolsek)

Abis Kabak

20, male

Farmer

Severely beaten on 2 July 2014 in Yotefa Market, at Bhanyangkara Police Hospital and Abepura Police Station, suffered injury to jaw requiring surgery and extensive treatment, injury to left eye impairing sight, exacerbated by poor medical treatment at Bhanyangkara Police Hospital.

Fists, hammers, tools, sticks, iron stand used to hold infusion bags for medical drips, boots

Police from Abepura sub-district police station (Polsek) under the command of Yulius Yawan, Head of Abepura sub-district police station (Kapolsek) and migrant mobs with police complicity

 

Need for an urgent independent investigation

To date, no disciplinary action has been taken against any of the police involved, according to the local organization investigating the case, the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Evangelical Christian Church (Keadilan, Perdamaian dan Keutuhan Ciptaan, KPKC, Gereja Kristen Injili, GKI). Two of the surviving victims, Abis Kabak and Urbanus Pahabol, have been accompanied to visit the Headquarters of the Police of the Republic of Indonesia, the Police Complaints Commission and the National Human Rights Commission, where they were able to tell their stories. The National Human Rights Commission subsequently promised to carry out an investigation of the Yotefa incident, however this action has not yet been taken. The victims were accompanied by local human rights organization, the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Evangelical Christian Church (Keadilan, Perdamaian dan Keutuhan Ciptaan, KPKC, Gereja Kristen Injili, GKI).

Right to remedy

Under international law, the surviving victims have a non-derogable right to an effective remedy and reparation, which is comprised of restitution, compensation,[i] rehabilitation and satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.[ii]

Full restitution (restitutio in integrum) involves not only compensation for damage to property, including the property unlawfully confiscated by police, but also restoration of the victims to their prior situation, reparation of the consequences of the violation and indemnification for the damage caused by the crime, including emotional harm.[iii] Following an investigation, the victims and their families should be compensated by the state for the harm inflicted by its representatives.

Rehabilitation includes medical and psychological care, as well as legal and social services.[iv] The victims must be provided with counseling and legal assistance to cope with the trauma of their ordeal. Several of the victims require ongoing medical care as a result of the injuries suffered during the incident. The costs of this care should be paid by the state with the assistance of Indonesia’s Witness and Victim Protection Agency (Lembaga Perlindungan Saksi dan Korban, LPSK), following a full and conclusive investigation.

Satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition involve public acknowledgement of the violation in recognition of the victims’ right to truth and a fair and equitable investigation.[v] Non-repetition also requires that the perpetrators are identified, removed from their positions and punished for their crimes. All staff should be trained by the state regarding international and domestic law on torture and the consequences of acts like those carried out in Yotefa Market on 2 July 2014 to prevent further attacks.

It is also vital that the victims and their families are protected from reprisals and guaranteed safety while assisting authorities with the investigation. TAPOL urges the UN Special Procedures to encourage Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission to monitor the status of the victims and ensure that they are not endangered as a result of their participation in the investigation. 

The role of intervention in ensuring right to remedy

Indonesia’s national legislation specifically states that police must “refrain from instigating or tolerating any act of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” under Regulation No.8/2009 of the Chief of the National Police regarding the Implementation of Human Rights Principles and Standards in the Discharge of Duties of the Indonesian National Police.

However, detainees in Papua are frequently beaten, tortured then denied medical care and attention. There were two cases during 2013 in which detainees were beaten so severely that they experienced mental health issues and authorities were forced to release them (Boas Gombo and Yohanes Boseren). In both cases the right to remedy was denied and there have been no reparations, restitution or compensation, nor have the perpetrators been punished. There have been no effective steps taken to ensure that these actions were not repeated, as evidenced by the torture of Alfares Kapisa and Yali Wenda on 2 April 2014, which we drew your attention to earlier this year, and now the torture of Meki Pahabol, Asman Pahabol, Urbanus Pahabol and Abis Kabak.

Previous experience suggests that the rights of the victims to remedy, reparation, restitution, compensation, non-repetition, and punishment of the perpetrators are unlikely to be fulfilled by the government of Indonesia without intervention. In some isolated cases, interventions have appeared to have had a positive effect, encouraging government institutions to take steps towards fulfilling their obligations. However, these cases have been rare and the positive effects minimal.

Sources

The information in this appeal letter is based on: the report ‘Violent Incident at Yotefa Market Abepura Ends with Arbitrary Arrests, Torture and the Deaths of 3 Papuan men’ by the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Evangelical Christian Church (Keadilan, Perdamaian dan Keutuhan Ciptaan, KPKC, Gereja Kristen Injili, GKI); TAPOL interview with Pastor Dora Balubun, 19 July 2014; and email and mobile telephone correspondence with the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Evangelical Christian Church (Keadilan, Perdamaian dan Keutuhan Ciptaan, KPKC, Gereja Kristen Injili, GKI).

Petition

The arbitrary arrests of 40 people, the torture of four indigenous farmers, including the involvement of migrant mobs with police complicity, and the mysterious killings of three indigenous Papuan highlanders and are part of a worsening pattern of arbitrary arrest, police violence, public torture and discrimination against indigenous Papuans, in particular those from the highlands. TAPOL therefore urges the UN Special Procedures to expedite communications with the government of Indonesia, calling for a swift and independent investigation of the Yotefa incident and stressing the need for fulfillment of the right to remedy, reparation, restitution, compensation, non-repetition, and punishment of the perpetrators.

Yours sincerely

 

Esther Cann                                                                   

Campaigns Coordinator, TAPOL         

 

cc.          Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

              Mr Mutuma Ruteere, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

              The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention



[i] ICCPR article 9(5), ECHR article 5(5), UNCAT article 14(1).

[ii] This was set out in many instruments, including the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (adopted by GA Resolution 40/34 of 29 November 1985) and the Set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through Action to Combat Impunity, but has now entered into customary international law; The right to restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for victims of gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, Final report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. M. Cherif Bassiouni, submitted in accordance with Commission resolution

1999/33, E/CN.4/2000/62, 18 January 2000.

[iii] UNDeclaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Abuse of Power paragraph 33(c).

[iv] Principle 24, Final report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. M. Cherif Bassiouni, submitted in accordance with Commission resolution 1999/33, E/CN.4/2000/62, 18 January 2000.

[v] E/CN.4/RES/2001/70, 25 April 2001, 8.