Papuans claim Australian link to death squad

2 hours 3 minutes ago

An elite counter-terrorism unit trained and supplied by Australia is being accused of acting as a death squad in Indonesia's troubled West Papua region.

The group, known as Detachment 88, receives training, supplies and extensive operational support from the Australian Federal Police.

But there is growing evidence the squad is involved in torture and extra-judicial killings as part of efforts by Indonesian authorities to crush the separatist movement in West Papua.

The AFP were contacted by 7.30 and outlined their involvement with Detachment 88 - read here.
Read the Indonesian Government's response to the 7.30 coverage here.
The ABC's Hayden Cooper and Lisa Main went undercover in West Papua to meet with many who say an Australian Government-funded anti-terrorist team is waging a bloody campaign against activists.

On June 14, popular independence leader Mako Tabuni was gunned down as he fled from police on a quiet street in the Papuan capital.

The men who killed Mr Tabuni, was was deputy chairman of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB), were allegedly part of Detachment 88.

Trained in forensics, intelligence gathering, surveillance and law enforcement by officials from the US, the UK and Australia, the unit was established in the wake of the Bali bombings and has played a crucial role in Indonesia's counter-terrorism efforts.

They are ruthless, often killing suspects, and their anti-terrorism mandate is now creeping into other areas like policing West Papuan separatists.

In December 2010, Detachment 88 killed militant Papuan activist Kelly Kwalik.

Mr Kwalik was a leader from the Free Papua Movement (OPM), a violent independence group with a record of attacking military and civilians, and Detachment 88 publically claimed responsibility.

'Gentle way'

But KNBP's current leader, Victor Yeimo, say unlike OPM, KNBP is non-violent and instead pursues a political solution.

PHOTO: Mourners during the funeral of West Papuan independence leader Mako Tabuni (Papua Cooperation Forum: AFP)
"Mako was a good man. If someone was angry, Mako wouldn't answer them," he said.

"Even if people were angry, if he was being questioned by the police, they'd speak to him but he'd just laugh.

"His way of fighting back was by doing interviews and press conferences, it was gentle.

"People say he had weapons and so on but I was often at his house and I never saw a pistol and nor did my friends."

According to eyewitnesses, after being approached by plain-clothed police in unmarked cars, Mr Tabuni attempted to flee.

The witness said police opened fire on the activist as he ran down the road.

"He got free, he ran across the road, he ran about two metres alongside the taxi rank," one witness said.

"He ran along the taxi rank and tried to climb down into a gully, a drain, under the bridge.

"He was shot in the leg, he was shot but still tried to escape, then they shot him in the torso."

Bleeding heavily, Mr Tabuni was taken not to the nearby Catholic hospital, but to a police hospital at least 20 minutes away, where another witness saw the authorities bring him in.

"When he came in, I was shocked. I didn't know what had happened and it was a shock," he said.

"They brought him in and all they did was wash off the blood."

'No evidence'

The man says the police were from Detachment 88, based on their distinctive masks often worn in operation.

"I could tell just from the way they looked. And when they brought him in, the people carrying him were wearing masks," he said.

Gustaf Kawer, Mr Tabuni's lawyer, also believes Detachment 88 was involved.

"They used an ordinary car and also a ute. Usually, when the police make an official arrest they wear police uniforms and use police vehicles," he said.

"But they acted as if this was not an ordinary case, as if they were dealing with terrorists."

They used an ordinary car and also a ute. Usually, when the police make an official arrest they wear police uniforms and use police vehicles.

But they acted as if this was not an ordinary case, as if they were dealing with terrorists.

I think it's all a scenario created by the security forces so they could shoot him.
Mako Tabuni's lawyer Gustaf Kawer
The Indonesian police report claims Mr Tabuni had a gun when he was shot, and that he grabbed another weapon off one of the officers.

They also claim he was involved in seven violent offences before his shooting.

But Mr Kawer, who is respected internationally, says there is no evidence for any of the claims.

"I think it's all a scenario created by the security forces so they could shoot him," he said.

"At the present time the police are only holding two of the people who are alleged to be involved with him. They're still being held by the police.

"Witness testimony points to their being involved but there's not enough evidence against Mako."

Without restraint

VIDEO: Rare look inside West Papua independence movement (7.30)
The activist's death is just one of many examples of Detachment 88 operating with impunity.

A leaked video surfaced last year showing Indonesian police after they had reclaimed a remote airstrip from militant separatists.

The trophy video, taken on a mobile phone by the police, identifies Detachment 88 officers, who are often embedded with other units, and dead Papuans lying on the ground, including pictures of teenagers tied up with ropes.

And witnesses say Detachment 88 was among the security forces that opened fire on civilians at the Papuan National Congress last October.

To Papuan activists like Mr Yeimo, Australia's support and training for Detachment 88 is galling.

"You give money for Indonesia to kill people in West Papua - you are the perpetrators of violence in West Papua," he said.

"[The] Australian Government and American government, they are actors of violence in West Papua.

"Because they find them, they train them and then with the gun they kill people, they kill us like animals."

Mr Tabuni's death has sparked the attention of the Australian Government, with diplomats in Jakarta raising concerns about the killing with Indonesia on August 7.

And the Federal Government says it is asked Indonesia to conduct inquiries into human rights abuses and killings in the province of Papua.

Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr says he does not know if the reports are true, but he says he has spoken with his Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, about the issue.

"Well we think the best way of clarifying the situation is for an inquiry. We've never hesitated to raise human rights issues in the two Papuan provinces and we'll continue to do it," he said.

But Australia's response is little comfort to the independence leaders in the divided and dangerous region.

Mr Yeimo says his people have little faith that the world really cares about their plight.

"The world is behind Indonesia now, it means they all compromise with Indonesia to kill West Papuan people," he said.

And he knows that he too is now in the firing line.

"The three days after Mako Tabuni was killed by Indonesia, they sent a text message to me, they said to me that 'after Mako Tabuni's dead, you'll be next'."

VIDEO: Bob Carr responds to West Papua accusations (7.30)
Statements from the Australian Federal Police and Indonesian Embassy below:

How much money does the AFP provide annually for Detachment 88 – either through training or other measures?
The AFP does not provide a regular and ongoing annual funding allocation to Detachment 88 or the Indonesian National Police (INP).

Any allocations we do make to the INP are solely intended to increase the capacity for counter terrorism purposes.

Between 2010 and 2012, in support of Detachment 88 counter terrorism efforts, the AFP has gifted assets including motor vehicles, office and telecommunication supplies and computer equipment. The value of these assets is $314,500.

Exactly, what training does the AFP provide Detachment 88?
The AFP provides capacity building assistance in support of the Indonesian National Police (INP), including Detachment 88.

This capacity building includes the provision of support to a range of INP initiatives implemented by the AFP, such as investigations support and forensic assistance including post bomb-blast analysis.

The AFP has also supported the INP in establishing and developing forensic and bomb data centres, the introduction of a Case Management and Intelligence System database and the provision of equipment in support of counter terrorism operations.

The AFP is not involved in INP counter terrorism tactical resolutions. AFP engagement with Detachment 88 is undertaken with its Executive and headquarters members in Jakarta, Indonesia.

We understand that Detachment 88 is involved in targeting independence leaders in Papua and West Papua. Is this a concern to the AFP? If so what measures has the AFP taken to investigate the allegations.
Detachment 88 is a specialist counter terrorism unit within the Indonesian National Police, however it should be noted that Indonesian law does not differentiate between terrorism, separatism and insurgency.

The AFP is not aware, nor been informed, that Detachment 88 is specifically targeting independence leaders in Papua and West Papua.

The AFP is aware of media reports which allege human rights abuses have been perpetrated by Detachment 88 members.

While the AFP is unable to comment directly on the recent allegations, it should be noted that human rights allegations have been made against Detachment 88 members previously, some of which have been unfounded or misreported.

The AFP does not have a mandate to investigate allegations made in relation to the conduct of foreign police forces in a foreign, sovereign country.

Will the AFP question the Indonesian Police on the activities Detachment 88 undertakes in Papua and West Papua?
The AFP has no mandate to investigate the conduct of police forces in a foreign country.

Further, the AFP does not have a mandate to question the operational taskings of the INP. Any investigation into the conduct of INP or Detachment 88 officers is a matter for the Indonesian authorities.

Further information: Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC)
The JCLEC is an academic training facility, through which operational support and capacity building assistance including training to regional law enforcement agencies and non-government agencies in responding to transnational crime, including terrorism is undertaken.

To date the JCLEC has provided training to over 12,000 regional law enforcement students, from 55 countries who have participated in over 498 training programs.

The JCLEC training undertaken by the Detachment 88 members has included crime investigation, response to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear events and post bomb-blast management.

The principles of human rights are embedded in JCLEC programs and police accountability is incorporated into scenario-based activities.

Response to 7.30 from the Australian Federal Police
The recent unrest in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua –especially the loss of life– is regrettable and is receiving attention from the Indonesian people, the media, and the President of the Republic of Indonesia himself. The Indonesian Government has taken steps to restore law-enforcement in the Papuan provinces.

There are several points to remember while peace is being restored to the Papuan provinces: Firstly, that Indonesia's sovereignty and territorial integrity should not be called into question. The world, including Australia, has acknowledged support for Indonesia’s territorial integrity.

Secondly, it is every country’s right to create and maintain peace within its own borders within the basic principles of Human Rights. In this regard, the Indonesian Government deploys law-enforcement officials in all parts of Indonesia, including the Papuan provinces, to ensure stability and peace in all aspects of public life.

Thirdly, every excessive use of violence by authorities is processed according to the prevailing laws. Previous cases have seen Indonesian law-enforcement personnel demoted or imprisoned for breaches of human rights, including in cases that were not covered by the media.

Fourthly, every country has procedures in place regarding foreign journalists wanting to visit to produce a program, so countries including Australia and Indonesia reserve the right to determine entry by foreigners into its own territory, whether they are tourists or asylum-seekers or journalists.

In response to the ABC's 7.30 program (27 August 2012), it should be known that Australian journalists and production crews have been officially visiting the Papuan provinces in the last few years. Additionally, Red Cross offices are always located in each host country’s capital city, while the host country opens branches in the regions, as does the Indonesian Red Cross in the provinces of Papua and West Papua.Thank you for your continued interest in Indonesia. As is expected of Indonesia’s vibrant journalistic media, we also invite more researched and balanced reporting by Australian media

Response to 7.30 from the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra


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