Indonesia police admit using snake to terrorize Papuan man

A mobile brigade policeman patrols near an armoured vehicle at the Mobile Police Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in Depok, Indonesia, May 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 10 February 2019
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Indonesia police admit using snake to terrorize Papuan man

  • Police in Indonesia’s Papua region apologized but also attempted to justify the officers’ actions
  • The spread of the video had forced police into a “very rare” apology

JAKARTA: Indonesian police have acknowledged officers terrorized a Papuan man with a live snake after a video of the incident circulated online showing the man screaming in fear and his interrogator laughing.
Police in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua region apologized but also attempted to justify the officers’ actions by saying the snake was not venomous and that they hadn’t resorted to beating the man, who was suspected of theft.
Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said Sunday that the interrogation methods were torture and violated police policies as well as several laws. She said it was only the latest of several reports of police and military using snakes to terrorize Papuan detainees and symptomatic of a culture of racism against indigenous Papuans.
Sam Lokon, a member of the West Papua National Committee, which advocates for independence from Indonesia, was put in a cell with a snake and also beaten after being arrested in January, Koman said.
Police indicated the incident with the alleged thief happened recently, during a crackdown on petty crime in Jayawijaya district.
The spread of the video had forced police into a “very rare” apology, Koman said, while also criticizing the attempt to provide a justification.
The one minute and 20 second video shows the dark brown snake, at least two meters long, wrapped around the handcuffed suspect’s neck and waist and an officer pushing its head into the man’s face as he becomes increasingly hysterical.
Officers appear to be asking how many times he’d stolen cellphones.
Jayawijaya police chief Tonny Ananda Swadaya said the officers had been disciplined by being given ethics training and moved to other locations.
The events are likely to further inflame tensions in the region where an insurgency has simmered since the early 1960s when Indonesia took control of the western half of the island of New Guinea, formerly a Dutch colony.
Police and military have carried out a sweeping crackdown on independence supporters after rebel fighters in December killed 19 people working on a construction site for the trans-Papua highway.
A Polish man who is being held in a Jayawijaya prison while on trial for treason said earlier this week he’d been assaulted by police officers visiting the prison as guards looked on.


US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

Updated 19 April 2019
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US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

  • A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend
  • The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group

KABUL: The US envoy for peace in Afghanistan expressed disappointment on Friday after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed some of the deep divisions hampering efforts to end the war.
A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend. The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.
“I’m disappointed Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, said on Twitter. “I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.”
The collapse of the meeting before it had even started, described as a “fiasco” by one senior Western official, laid bare the tensions that have hampered moves toward opening formal peace negotiations.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-born diplomat, has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives but the insurgents have so far refused to talk to the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.
The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the US-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.
President Ashraf Ghani’s office blamed Qatari authorities for the cancelation, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans.”
“This act is not acceptable for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Friday.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Qatar, which had been facilitating the meeting, said there was no disagreement about the agenda.
“Rather, there is insufficient agreement around participation and representation to enable the conference to be a success,” he tweeted.
Preparations had already been undermined by disagreements on the government side about who should attend, as well as by suspicions among rival politicians ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September.
The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party.” Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend.
The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.