National

Violence exists in Mesuji,
despite video controversies:
Kontras

The government should stay focused on the alleged series of killings in the Mesuji area in Sumatra despite controversies over the authenticity of video recordings already widely-published on electronic media, depicting people being brutally beheaded and mutilated. The videos were reportedly taken in Mesuji, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Haris Azhar said on Saturday.

“The videos are just tools to explain. If they fail to explain, this does not necessarily mean that the violence in Mesuji never occurred,” Haris said.

“The government should have addressed the case a long time ago, even without the videos. It would be a pity if the government fails to address this prolonged problem only because some parts of the videos were actually taken in Thailand,” he added.

The videos first shocked the public after they were played before members of the House of Representatives’ legal affairs commission on Wednesday during a meeting with Mesuji people and members of their advocacy team.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Saurip Kadi, one of the advocacy team members, claimed the brutal incidents took place in April in Mesuji district in Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra, amid clashes between local farmers and informal security forces working for palm-oil plantation company PT Sumber Wangi Alam (SWA).

Two villagers and five company employees were reported dead following the incidents.

Saurip also claimed at least 32 villagers had been killed in a series of similar clashes in the Mesuji area since 2008.

A CBS news’ report on Saturday alleged that some parts of the videos were likely made in southern Thailand.

The Jakarta Post obtained copies of the two shocking videos.

The CBS news report was likely referring to the second video where a man was shown beheaded by an unidentified man dressed in black. The assailants were seen toting rifles and wearing black masks.

CBS news reported that the assailants, thought to be National Police Mobile Brigade police officers, were actually members of a Pattani separatist group fighting the Thai government.

In the scene where the man dressed in black is seen carrying a decapitated head, a man was heard talking in a local language. The Post observed that the monologue included a phrase in Arabic, which means “Islamic Army Pattani Darussalam.” The message ended with a Malay phrase meaning “Independent Pattani Darussalam”.

When asked by the Post about the matter, some Mesuji people insisted the monologue had been spoken in local Mesuji language, while CBS news suggested that it had been spoken in Pattani Malay.

“In general, the saying meant ‘go away from our land’,” Mesuji villager Raja told the Post. He refused to interpret the monologue in detail.

Saurip also refused to comment when asked why an alleged killing in a land-dispute clash in Sumatra involved statements that contained words about an Islamic army in Pattani.

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