Indon police killing, raping civilians in Papua
Police chief deny abuses.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Indonesian security forces are killing, raping and beating people in operations against separatists in Papua province, Human Rights Watch alleged in a report released Thursday.
Indonesia's police chief denied any abuses were taking place in the isolated region, where mistrust between indigenous people and security forces runs high after years of bloody military crackdowns.
"The police have undertaken many reforms," said Gen. Sutanto. "The human rights situation in Papua is getting better." Like many Indonesians, Sutanto goes by a single name.
The allegations of abuse contained in the report hinged on interviews with alleged victims and witness, all of whom spoke anonymously due to fears of reprisal, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.
The group's 96-page report covered investigations of eight alleged killings by police and military officers in the province's central highlands since 2005, and several bloody beatings.
"I was beaten with the end of a gun on my back, and with fists to my face. My mouth and eyes were smashed and bleeding," said one alleged victim.
The group also recorded two cases of rape -- one of a 16-year-old girl by a soldier and another of a married woman by police who accused her of supplying food for the rebels -- in the same region.
It said that only one officer -- a low-ranking soldier who received an 8-month prison term for killing a 16-year-old boy -- had faced prosecution over any of the abuses.
Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a UN-sponsored ballot of tribal leaders, which has since been dismissed as a sham.
A small separatist insurgency has raged ever since in the mostly Christian region in Muslim-majority Indonesia. Tens of thousands have died as a result of military action by Indonesian forces, rights groups say.
The Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank said in a report last year that the human rights situation had improved in province since it was granted more power under autonomy laws, but serious violations still occurred.
Human Rights Watch said the abuse was deepening mistrust of the national government and risked fueling separatist tensions in the region, which occupies the western half of Papua New Guinea island.
Since 2002, foreign journalists, diplomats and human rights workers have required permission -- which is often denied -- to visit the region. Once there, strict limits are imposed on freedom of movement and association.
Human Rights Watch urged the government to open Papua to independent observers, and to allow independent and transparent investigations of rights abuses.
"By keeping the region closed to outside scrutiny, officials in Jakarta are receiving biased and partial accounts of what is taking place," said Joseph Saunders, the group's deputy program director. "Reliable information is essential if officials are genuinely interested in identifying problems and finding lasting solutions."
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