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.


Pentagon chief says keeping some troops in north Syria under discussion

Updated 37 min 21 sec ago

Pentagon chief says keeping some troops in north Syria under discussion

  • Esper said that while the withdrawal from northeastern Syria was under way, some troops were still with partner forces near oilfields
KABUL: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday that keeping some US troops in parts of northeastern Syria near oilfields with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to ensure that the oil did not fall into the hand of Daesh or others was one of the options that was being discussed.

Speaking with reports during a trip to Afghanistan, Esper said that, while the withdrawal from northeastern Syria was under way, some troops were still with partner forces near oilfields and there had been discussions about keeping some of them there.

Esper said he had not presented that option yet, but the Pentagon’s job was to look at different options.