No Comment From McCully on Papua Torture Video
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced the launch of an Indonesia-New Zealand ‘Friendship Council’ just days
after the release of a video which shows Indonesian soldiers torturing priests in West Papua.
The video released by West Papua Media
on Monday appears to show Indonesian soldiers kicking, punching and using bayonets to threaten two West Papuan priests.
The footage also appears to show soldiers pinning one of the priests to the ground and burning his penis with a charred
stick. [WARNING: link features real and graphic violence]
McCully left for the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Tuesday night for trade talks, but a spokesperson for the minister
could not confirm whether he had been briefed on the situation.
The New Zealand-based Indonesia Human Rights Committee says it wrote to Foreign Minister Murray McCully and other
members of the Pacific Islands Forum Tuesday to demand a fact-finding mission to West Papua and ask that delegates raise
their concerns with the Indonesian government.
McCully’s press secretary said the minister left for Indonesia before the letter arrived and it was uncertain whether
MFAT officials had discussed it with him.
But Committee spokesperson Marie Leadbeater said she would be surprised if they had not briefed him even before the
The footage had gone around the world, she said.
“Al Jazeera’s picked up on it and they’re having a demonstration in London and it’s been in the Aussie papers and Aussie
“It’s absolutely a major; all the other western governments are having to comment on it – the Australian foreign
minister and so on.”
She said the news was especially “abysmal” because the New Zealand government had put so much effort into training
Indonesian police in West Papua.
“I think in the context of what happened, it’s really abysmal stuff.”
Leadbeater said McCully needed to demand an explanation from the Indonesian government as the video showed grave human
“It’s contrary to every international law on torture and anything else so he should certainly be demanding an
explanation on that.
“I think any government in the world has a right to that because it is such a grievous abuse of international human
Ideally the Government needed to immediately dissolve its military ties with Indonesia, she added, as it sent the wrong
“There has been democratic reform in Indonesia but there hasn’t been reform of the military.“
But Leadbeater said she did not object to McCully’s ‘Friendship Council’ as trade was a separate sphere.
McCully and his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa announced the launch of an Indonesia-New Zealand Friendship
Council earlier this morning.
McCully said in a press release the Council brought together key individuals in Indonesia “who will use their influence
to help strengthen our bilateral relationship.”
Indonesia annexed the western half of Papua New Guinea in 1963 under a heavily disputed referendum.
Papuan nationalist movements are outlawed in Indonesia and have reported ongoing civilian killings and human rights
violations by the Indonesian authorities since 1970.
Indonesia is New Zealand’s eighth largest trading partner.