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We saw soldiers use torture, say PNG police
4 January 2001
Sydney Morning Herald
Papua New Guinea police on patrol along the border with Irian Jaya say they were horrified to witness a West Papuan rebel being tortured by Indonesian soldiers.
A member of Lae's mobile squad 13 stationed in Vanimo and the border area said the rebel was repeatedly slashed with a knife and forced to swallow cups of hot chilli soup.
"It was torture at its worst," the police officer said of the alleged Indonesian interrogation at the border last Thursday.
"It's something we have never seen before."
Indonesia is refusing to allow independence for Irian Jaya, also known as West Papua, despite demands from the indigenous population.
PNG and Indonesian troops on the border talk to each other daily, and PNG officers are occasionally invited by their counterparts for drinks or food.
PNG police usually hide their weapons when they approach the Indonesians, out of respect and courtesy, while the Indonesians are always seen carrying their weapons.
The West Papuan rebel was allegedly being held in a small makeshift cell. When he was not answering questions to the liking of the Indonesians they would slash his body and make him swallow more chilli soup.
PNG's Post-Courier newspaper, which visited the West Papua rebel commander, Mr Mathias Wenda, at his hideout in jungle near Vanimo on Saturday, was introduced to a woman who had lost all five fingers on one hand. The Indonesians had allegedly cut off her fingers one at a time because she was the wife of a Papuan commander.
She was lucky to have escaped death, but many others never came out alive from torture camps in Irian Jaya, the paper was told.
A mother had also died hours before the paper visited the rebels' hideout, and was carried in a bush stretcher to another campsite for burial. She had died from severe malaria, which the rebels said she contracted while escaping from the Indonesians.
Mr Wenda has warned that his men will launch fresh attacks against Indonesian troops in the new year in their continued fight for independence.
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Forwarded from International Action for West Papua (IAWP)