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Arrest of disabled man in Indonesia sparks outcry

Two military policemen held after video footage allegedly showing them abusing deaf Papuan goes viral

Konradus Epa, Jakarta

Konradus Epa, Jakarta

Published: July 28, 2021 07:02 AM GMT

Updated: July 28, 2021 02:53 PM GMT

Arrest of disabled man in Indonesia sparks outcry

This photo appears to show two Indonesian soldiers mistreating a disabled man in Merauke, Papua, on July 26. (Photo supplied)

Two military policemen have been detained in Indonesia’s Papua province after video footage allegedly showing them beating a disabled man went viral on social media.

The incident, during which the head of the man was trodden on, took place in the city of Merauke on July 26 and drew swift condemnation from Catholic Church and rights groups.

The video, uploaded on July 27, showed the Papuan man, who is deaf, arguing with two youths. A few minutes later, two air force policemen appeared and accused the Papuan man of being drunk.

While leading him away, they forced him to the ground and one of the military policemen trod on the head of the arrested man.   

Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Merauke said he was shocked by the incident, calling it a wanton and unnecessary act of violence. 

“We condemn any act of violence against anyone. No one should be treated this way,” said the prelate on July 28.

The incident is a clear human rights abuse because it shows inhumane punishment

“Military personnel should love, respect and protect Papuan people. Law enforcement is needed but must be carried with respect and without violence.”  

Emmanuel Gobay, director of the Legal Aid Foundation in Papua, called the incident shocking and degrading.

“The incident is a clear human rights abuse because it shows inhumane punishment,” Gobay told UCA News.

Indonesian security forces are often accused of mistreating and abusing Papuans. There have been at least 95 human rights cases, including killings, allegedly committed by security forces against civilians in Papua since 2010, according to rights groups.

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Gobay called on Indonesian military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto to ensure the perpetrators receive the appropriate punishment.

Theo Hesegem, executive director of the Papua Justice and Human Integrity Foundation, called the actions of the military policemen shameful.

“They literally trampled on the dignity of the disabled victim, his family and the Papuan people,” Hesegem told UCA News.

The National Commission of Human Rights also condemned the incident and said it would monitor the case after Tjahjanto vowed that the two servicemen would be dealt with.

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