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Thirteen elite troops in Indonesia have been arrested for their involvement in a video showing the torture of an indigenous Papua man believed to be a member of a separatist group. The video, which surfaced on social media, depicts soldiers kicking, beating, and dunking the man in a barrel of water. The incident took place at a border security task force post in Central Papua province on Feb. 3. At least five men are seen in the video beating the victim, taunting him with racist slurs, and slicing his back with a machete.

The military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Kristomei Sianturi emphasized that the actions shown in the video are a violation of the law and will be dealt with according to the applicable laws and regulations. The suspects have been detained for further investigation at the military police’s maximum security detention center in West Java. The abuse started after a skirmish between security forces and suspected separatist rebels. One man died from injuries sustained when he jumped from a car with his hands tied behind his back. Another man, identified as Definus Kogoya, was captured and tortured at a military post in an attempt to extract information on others.

Indonesia has seen an outcry from the public and rights activists due to the video showing the brutal torture of the indigenous Papuan man. Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, condemned the incident as a cruel act that undermines justice. The conflict between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces is common in the resource-rich but impoverished region. Papua, a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea, was annexed by Indonesia in 1969 following a controversial U.N.-sponsored ballot.

The Papua region has been plagued by a low-level insurgency since its incorporation into Indonesia, with conflicts escalating over the past year resulting in numerous casualties among rebels, security forces, and civilians. Sebby Sambom, a spokesperson for the West Papua Liberation Army, the military wing of the pro-independence Free Papua Organization accused of burning a public health facility, called on the United Nations to intervene and condemned the actions of the Indonesian military and police as barbaric. The video has raised concerns about the treatment of indigenous Papuans and the actions of the military in the region, calling into question the government’s claims of a humane approach to handling issues in Papua.

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