Police officers arbitrarily arrest two Papuans and a baby in Sentani – both men subjected to torture during detention

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The Association of Human Rights Lawyers for Papua (PAHAM Papua) has documented another case of arbitrary arrest and torture in the town of Sentani, Jayapura Regency. Police officers of the Sentani District Police arrested Atison Bahabol (20 years), Eki Balingga (20 years) and his 13-months-old son Namu Balingga on 5 April 2019, at 7.13 pm, at the Soloikma Dormitory, which is located in the Ceria residential area of Sentani. Prior to the arrest, a political activist named Basoka Logo had posted pictures of Atison Bahabol and Eki Balingga with his family holding a leaflet with the slogan ‘Mobilisation for Referendum – Rally for Referendum - Boycott the elections on 17 April 2019’ on Facebook (see top image). According to PAHAM Papua, the police officer did not show arrest warrants as they conducted the arrests.

Atison PahabolAtison Bahabol, Eki Balingga and Namu Balingga were brought to the Jayapura District police station in Doyo Baru, where the police officers tortured the two Papuan men in an attempt to extract information from them. Police officers threatened to execute Atison and Eki if they refuse to provide the information regarding the whereabouts of Basoka Logo. Moreover, the police gave the order to Atison Bahabol and Eki Balingga to confess in front of the camera that Basoka Logo had forced them to hold the leaflet. The officers collectively punched Atison Bahabol and Eki Balingga into the face, pushed them against the wall and hit them with a hammer on the head. Both men sustained bruises under the eyes and on the head as well as cuts on the inside of the lips (see images on the right and bottom). Eli was forced to swallow the blood from a cut in his lip because police officers prohibited him to spit out the blood. Atison’s and Eli’s jaws and chin were swollen - Eli was not able to chew food for one day as a result of the torture.  

Eki BalinggaEki Balingga was holding his son Namu in the arm during the torture because the police repeatedly refused Eki Balingga’s request that the baby may be picked up by relatives although the baby was allegedly crying for several hours. Eki Balingga claimed, that Namu’s head got jogged around and was banged against the chair as Eki was punched by an officer. On 6 April, the head of the Soloikma Dormitory came to the police station at 12.00 am. The police officers did not permit him to visit Atison Bahabol, but was finally allowed to bring back Namu Balkingga home to his mother. Namu Balingga who still depends on breast milk, was not able to access food for almost 18 hours during the detention.

On 8 April 2019, a PAHAM Papua lawyer came to the police station and was able to meet Atison Bahabol and Eki Balingga. They were released without criminal charges on 9 April 2019 at 4.00 am. The police officers prevented Atison and Eki to access medical treatment throughout the period of detention.