Tempo: Papua Video: Blood in the Sweet Potato Garden
Aug 18, 2010 08:58 PDT
Responsibility for the article below rests with author and publication.
The contribution does not necessarily mirror the views of TAPOL
August 18-24, 2010
Blood in the Sweet Potato Garden
It is suspected that the Free Papua activist died from police
torture. The video of his arrest is posted on the Internet.
OVER the last few days Kalasum Ladari’s house at Serui, Yapen
Waropen Islands, Papua, was constantly visited by unknown
individuals. “They threatened Kalasum so that she would not talk
too much,” said Aston Situmorang, the activist who accompanied
Terror began to be felt by Kalasum, 33, a week after the arrest
video of her husband Yawan Menase Wayeni appeared on
YouTube.com. In the 7-minute video presumably made by the Police
Mobile Brigade member who arrested him, Yawan is lying helpless
on the ground while under “interrogation” by the police—with his
intestines disemboweled. “Oh God!” Yawan cries a few times in
pain. Instead of treating him, the policemen seen on the video
continue to question him.
This amateur video recording has become a topic of the
international mass media. The case is under the world spotlight,
as at the same time 50 US Congressmen ask President Barack
Obama to prioritize the handling of human rights violations in Papua.
Actually the arrest of the activist who staunchly voiced Papuan
independence took place last year when the Indonesian Police and
Military were after the members of the Free Papua Organization
(OPM) on Yapen Waropen Islands. On August 2, 2009, the Yapan
villagers saw the local Police Mobile Brigade troops passing
through their village in the dark of the night.
Police caught scent of the presence of Yawan in a jungle hut
near the village. They surrounded the hut in the middle of a
sweet potato garden, waiting for sunrise. The police began
pushing forward in the morning when Yawan and his wife and three
children were having a sweet potato breakfast. That was the last
time Kalasum saw her husband because she along with her children
were taken by the police to Serui.
Kalasum assured Aston that Yawan did not resist, let alone carry
a weapon. According to the report of the Commission for Missing
Persons & Victims of Violence (Kontras), during the raid the
police found only Yawan’s wife and children in the hut. Seeing
the police, Yawan’s children started crying, calling out for
Hearing the cry, Yawan returned to the hut. A few meters from
the hut, he was shot in the calf but kept walking. It was during
this moment when an assailant slashed his bayonet into Yawan’s
belly. According to Usman Hamid, Kontras coordinator, he
obtained this story a few months ago when investigating Yawan’s
death. “Kontras has got strong evidence,” said Usman.
Yawan died soon after he was brought to Serui General Hospital.
An eyewitness saw two policemen carrying a long wooden stick.
“Yawan’s two arms and legs were tied to the stick, just like
carrying a pig,” he said.
Police offered an excuse that when about to be captured, Yawan
resisted with a gun. The police’s return fire tore open Yawan’s
belly causing his intestines to come out. “Don’t look at the
picture as a kind of torture and so on, but look who he was,”
said Papua Police spokesperson, Sr. Comr. Wachyono.
Yawan was on the police blacklist as he was the personal
bodyguard of Chairman of the Serui Traditional Board, Yusuf
Tanawani, who staunchly fights for Papua’s separation from
Indonesia. Yawan was also a member of the Team of 100 who in
1999 met with President B.J. Habibie at the Palace to demand
independence for Papua.
Yawan, 39, was also a fugitive who escaped from Serui prison a
year after the court gave him a nine-year jail sentence. The
court viewed him as being involved in an armed raid against the
employees of PT Artha Makmur Permai and the military post at
About two months after Yawan’s death, his family received the
video recording. The family’s attorney Saul Ayomi said the video
was used as material evidence when reporting the matter to
Papua’s National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the
Papua Police, the Regent, and the Yapen Waropen Regional House
of Representatives. “But there has never been a serious probe,”
said the Director of the Serui Legal Aid Society.
The National Police Headquarters began to react after the video
recording was widely circulated. Head of the National Police HQ
Information Section Sr. Comr. Marwoto stated that the police had
sent a detective team to investigate Yawan’s death.
However, before the probe had even begun, the witnesses were
terrorized. “Police must investigate Yawan’s death and protect
his family,” said Chairman of the National Commission for Human
Rights, Ifdhal Kasim.
-- Oktamandjaya Wiguna, Maria Hasugian (Jakarta),
Tjahjono Ep. (Papua)