An Indonesian human rights court Friday indicted a retired Indonesian Army officer for his role in a 2014 massacre in Papua, according to Human Rights Watch. Retired Major Isak Sattu is charged with crimes against humanity for the 2014 killing of five teenage protestors and the injuries of 17 more in Papua, Indonesia.
Indonesia’s Human Rights Court is a little-used, specialized court established in 2000 to hear cases involving “gross violations of human rights,” like genocide and crimes against humanity. Sattu is charged with crimes against humanity and of violating his “command responsibility” by failing to prevent his men from arming themselves. Sattu is not alleged to have fired into the protestors himself.
On December 7, 2014, a brawl broke out between primary school students decorating a Christmas tree and Indonesian Army Battalion 753. The Battalion assaulted children as young as 12 years old. The following day, 800 protesters gathered in front of a local police station and military command site to demand an explanation for the attack. Reportedly, “[t]he police ordered the protesters to disperse and then struck them with batons and sticks when they refused to comply.” Eventually, security forces began firing live ammunition on the protesters. On December 28, 2014, President Joko Widodo promised a full investigation of the matter.
Violence between Papuans and Indonesian military forces has increased significantly since the West Papua National Liberation Army issued a Declaration of War against Indonesia in 2018. The history of violence between the Indonesian government and Indigenous Papuans goes back much farther, and is likely far greater in scope than currently understood; Indonesia has essentially refused human rights monitors and foreign journalist entry into Papua since 1967. Earlier this month, six Indonesian soldiers were arrested for killing and mutilating indigenous Papuans.