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

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.


In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

Updated 04 July 2020

In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

  • The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths

LA PAZ, Bolivia: The rising toll of COVID-19 deaths is overwhelming the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, where desperate relatives of one apparent victim of the new coronavirus left his coffin in the street for several hours on Saturday to protest difficulties in getting him buried.
Neighbor Remberto Arnez said the 62-year-old man had died on Sunday and his body had been in his home ever since, “but that’s risky because of the possible contagion.”
After a few hours, funeral workers showed up and took the coffin to a cemetery.
Police Col. Iván Rojas told a news conference that the city is collecting “about 17 bodies a day. This is collapsing the police personnel and funeral workers” in the city of some 630,000 people.
“The crematorium oven is small, that that is where the bodies are collecting,” said national Labor Minister Óscar Mercado, who told reporters that officials were preparing 250 new burial plots in the city’s main cemetery.
The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths.