3 June 2014 Budi Hernawan was in Leiden. He is an Indonesian Franciscan Friar, an acedemic and peace activist. He is now working in New York as part of an NGO lobbying for peace in Papua. At KITLV, the Leiden academic institute for Indonesian Studies he presented aspects from the first part of his doctoral dissertation: Torture in Papua as a Theatre: reconstructing abject citizenship of Papuans was the title of his lecture. [His dissertation can be found on the internet. The second part is about peace-building]
Budi Hernawan gave a quite dry, sober and analytical survey about the processes of torture in Papua. The players: police seeking OPM weapons and suspects. They do not speak a local language, while OPM members very often cannot speak Indonesian.
Budi mentions aspects of torture: it is like a ritual, a theatre, is public, spectacular, painful. He has identified 431 cases of torture. In all these cases only 2 OPM leaders/activists had weapons, all others were unarmed civilians. He analyzes the 'perpetrator factors': they follow orders, especially members of the army; they deny the cruelty or defend their actions ('the suspects defended themselves, attacked'), some like it and do it for fun. In all cases is the victim no longer considered a human being.
There are also various elements to be analysed among the spectators.
He asked that he considered it impossible that this was government policy after the Soeharto regime fell in 1998? He was a very eloquent and honest yong man. Nico Schulte Nordholt remarked to me 'that is a good diplomat!'
Budi Munawar answered in a calm way that there are double instructions: about the goal of the policy and about the mild/restricted use of violence but the lack of control and the impossibility to bring any government official, let alone the army to court. Only in one of the 431 cases there was a judicial case, but not torture, but inobedience was the 'crime' of the military.
The debate then turned more general to the monopoly of violence of the government and the practice of premanism or the use of criminals for political goals. In the movie The Act of Killing there was Jusuf Kalla as prominent member of Pemuda Pancasila (and Vice-President at the time) who defended the wild and criminal actions of these militia members against any opponents of the government.
Anton van der Ploeg asked why the violence in Papua has been worse than in Aceh of East-Timor: is it racism? Are Papuans the lowest on the scale of Indonesian civiliazation, at least in the eyes of the superior ethnic group? Are they not seen as common Indonesian citizens?