Detachment 88 ‘tortured
prisoners’: Report

Indonesian anti-terror squad Detachment 88, which is partially funded by foreign nations, cooperated with prison guards and police to torture political prisoners, says an international watchdog group.

The allegations were made in Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s recent report, which is based on interviews with more than 50 political prisoners conducted between December 2008 and May 2010, said representatives at a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.

“Detachment 88 [has] tortured activists for peacefully waving banned symbols,” said Phil Robertson, HRW Asia division deputy director, when quoting the report.

The report alleges that anti-terror squad members, police and prison guards tortured people in collusion and independently.

HRW said that Johan Teterisa, an alleged organizer of the Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM), was tortured by Indonesian authorities.

The school teacher was convicted of treason and sentenced to 15 years in prison for unfurling a flag in support of the South Maluku Republic (RMS) in front of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a traditional dance in Ambon, Maluku, on June 29, 2007.

“Teterisa was beaten repeatedly with sticks and kicked by Detachment 88 officials until he lost consciousness,” said Panjaitan, a representative of  the Advocacy Team for the People of Maluku.

 Police beat Teterisa almost continuously for at least 12 hours every day for 11 days after he refused to sign a statement supporting the FKM’s dissolution, Panjaitan said.

Teterisa said police and Detachment 88 officers demanded that he sign the statement, said the report.
Candran Listiyono, spokesman for the Directorate General of Prisons, said that he was not aware of any mistreatment of inmates and promised to investigate, as reported by the Associated Press.

HRW asked all benefactor countries, including Australia, the Netherlands and several European Union countries, to stop funding Detachment 88 until there is an impartial independent investigation of its activities, Roberston said.

Detachment 88 was created under the aegis of the National Police in August 2004 after a series of terrorist attacks.

Unit officers previously said that they were watching Indonesia’s hot-spots for terrorists who may
use internal conflicts to launch attacks. (ipa)

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