Asia-Pacific

Indonesia confirms Papua torture

Indonesia has admitted that the men seen torturing Papuan villagers in a video uploaded on the internet earlier this week are members of the military.

The minister for security said the soldiers' actions were excessive and unprofessional. He added that the soldiers would be punished.

An investigation is continuing.

The graphic video has caused international outrage and raised concerns about the US's recent decision to renew ties with Indonesia's army.

The grainy and badly-shot footage, uploaded on the website of Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, shows two men dressed in military uniforms, kicking and abusing indigenous Papuan villagers.

The men are seen interrogating the villagers, and accusing them of having links to rebel groups and separatists.

The second part of the video shows a Papuan man tied up on the ground, being tortured by a group of unidentifiable men.

A man holds a knife to the victim's face and neck as he is repeatedly kicked and questioned.

'Grave abuses'

The video momentarily shows his genitals being scorched with a burning stick.

The rest of the footage is edited out because, according to a statement on the website, the images are too disturbing.

Djoko Suyanto, the Indonesian Co-ordinating Minister for Security, said that the soldiers had reason to believe the Papuan villagers they caught were dangerous.

"The excessive actions that we have seen in this video, which has been spread on the internet, and on YouTube, show unprofessional conduct by members of our military in the field.

"But the soldiers suspected that the Papuan men they had caught are members of groups who have committed violent actions before in Papua. They found weapons on them when they were caught," he said.

But human rights groups say the Papuan villagers who were tortured were farmers.

They add that this video is evidence of the grave abuses committed by the Indonesian military in Papua, where a small group of rebels have waged a low level war for independence for decades.

There is a significant military presence in Papua, which the government says is necessary to maintain security in the province because of the existence of separatist groups.

The military has consistently rejected allegations that it is guilty of human rights abuses in Papua.

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