Indonesian soldiers patrolling ahead of Obama visti
Tatan Syuflana  /  AP
Indonesian soldiers patrol Istiqlal Mosque ahead of the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama in Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday. Obama is expected to arrive on Tuesday.
By
updated 11/8/2010 7:20:26 PM ET 2010-11-09T00:20:26

President Barack Obama's next stop on a tour of Asian democracies is an emerging economic power but also a country where U.S.-backed military and police still stifle dissent.

Just ask Anggen Pugu Kiwo, who became a symbol of ongoing abuses in far-flung regions when a video appeared on the Internet showing him being tortured by men who were allegedly soldiers.

The 50-year-old was shown lying naked on the gravel as one of his interrogators stood roughly on his chest and another placing burning stick to his genitals.

"I thought I was going to die," Kiwo said softly, his voice shaking. "At one point I prayed they would just shoot me."

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Obama bypasses India's outsourcing capital

When Obama arrives in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, on Tuesday he will find a country almost unrecognizable from the one he knew as a child.

Since emerging from decades of dictatorship under Gen. Suharto in 1998, the nation of 237 million people has made tremendous strides toward democracy, scrapping repressive laws, freeing the media and allowing citizens to directly pick their own leaders.

Allegations of abuse
It also has one of the fastest growing economies in the region, thanks to a booming stock market, abundant natural resources, and consumers who are eager to spend.

But while its military has made tentative steps toward reforms, it continues to be accused of abusing citizenry in the sprawling nation's separatist-torn regions, like Papua.

Activists are regularly given lengthy prison terms for peacefully expressing their views, organizing rallies or for simply raising pro-independence flags.

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Foreign journalists, human rights workers and academics are denied access to the region, making allegations of abuse almost impossible to verify.

But increasingly videos, like that of Kiwo are surfacing online.

In August, footage emerged of another prisoner, Yawen Wayeni, lying in a jungle clearing moments after troops allegedly sliced open his abdomen with a bayonet, sending intestines tumbling from his stomach.

Using the little life he has left in him, he lifts his arm into the air, and says weakly, "Freedom! Papua ... Freedom!"

In both cases, the government has denied security forces were involved but promised to investigate.

The United States agreed under the George W. Bush administration to lift a trade embargo imposed over concerns about military human rights violations under Suharto — partially to reward the country's efforts to fight terrorism.

Ban on military help lifted
And in July, Obama decided to lift a decadelong ban on military assistance to a notoriously violent commando unit, known as Kopassus, as the administration sought to shore up influence in the region amid increasing challenges from China.

That has incensed rights workers and victims of abuse.

"Obama is rewarding Kopassus without requiring accountability," said Suciwati, the widow of slain human rights activist, Munir Thalib, who documented atrocities carried by the military.

He was poisoned to death in 2004 on a flight between Jakarta and Amsterdam. Though intelligence agents were brought to trial, no one has ever been held accountable.

"I fear that the Indonesian security services will again get away with murder," said Suciwati.

U.S.-trained forces at the core of Indonesia's anti-terror fight, Detachment 88, have also been accused of torturing pro-independence activists from the Moluccan islands in 2007 after they unfurled their flag at a ceremony attended by the president.

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The were beaten, forced to crawl on their stomachs over hot asphalt, whipped with an electric cable and hit on the head with rifle butts until their ears bled, according to Amnesty International.

That wouldn't surprise Kiwo, who appeared on a video made available Monday by Human Rights Watch, explaining the harrowing three days he spent with his torturers.

He said when soldiers initially stopped him at a checkpoint in Puncak Jaya last May and told him to get off his motorbike, he thought they were just going to ask for cigarettes.

Instead he was pulled behind their tiny shack, accused of being a separatist fighter.

The abuse didn't stop with the burning of his genitals, he said. Barbed wire was wrapped around his legs, cigarettes were stubbed out in his face, and he was beaten in the neck and back with a wooden stick until it broke in half.

When they finally let him go, he dragged himself to his family.

"They were afraid to approach me, shake my hands because they'd heard I'd been killed by the military," Kiwo trembled.

"They thought it was just my shadow."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Obama tours Asia

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  1. Barack Obama waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return on Nov. 14, in Washington, D.C. Obama returns from a 10-day Asian tour where he held bilateral talks with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Barack Obama visits the Great Buddha statue in Kamakura, Japan, on the sidelines of the ongoing APEC Summit, Nov. 14. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Barack Obama, left, talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders retreat in Yokohama on Nov. 13. (Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. U.S. President Barack Obama is escorted to his position by Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his wife Nobuko Kan at the APEC Summit in Yokohama, Japan, Nov. 13. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, speaks with President Barack Obama during the opening plenary session of the G20 Summit in Seoul on Friday, November 12. (Andy Rain / Pool via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the G20 Summit in Seoul on Nov. 12. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. President Barack Obama gestures as he takes a seat at the G20 Working Dinner at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul on Thursday, Nov.11. Local beef and halibut from the Yellow Sea were on the menu as world leaders opened their G20 summit talks over a welcome dinner. (Yonhap / Pool via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. President Barack Obama is escorted to his position by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak as First Lady Kim Yoon-ok looks on during the official arrival for the G20 Summit working dinner at the National Museum in Seoul on Nov. 11. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. President Barack Obama lays a wreath at the Yongsan War Memorial during a Veterans Day event at the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul on Nov. 11, on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. President Barack Obama greets military personnel at a Veterans Day event at the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul on Nov. 11. (Jim Young / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. President Barack Obama steps off Air Force One as he arrives in Seoul, Nov. 10. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama listen as Grand Imam Ali Mustafa Yaqub gives them a tour of the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta on Nov. 10. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Members of the audience cheer President Barack Obama after he delivered a speech at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta on Nov. 10. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to deliver a speech at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta on Nov. 10. Obama said Muslim-majority Indonesia's national philosophy of unity bewteen people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds is an inspiration to the world. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama pose for an official photo with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Mrs. Yudhoyono at the State Palace Complex Istana Merdeka in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The two leaders began bilateral talks expected to focus on security and economic issues, on the second leg of Obama's ten-day Asian tour. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. President Obama walks with Michelle Obama along the red carpet with Indonesian officials upon arrival at the Halim Perdana Kusuma airport in Jakarta on Nov. 9. (Roslan Rahman / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. The official band runs to get out of the rain moments before the arrival of President Obama for an official arrival ceremony at State Palace Complex-Istana Merdeka on Nov. 9. in Jakarta. Obama made a much-delayed homecoming of sorts to Indonesia, seeking to engage Muslims and cement strategic relations on the second leg of his Asia tour. (Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. President Obama and the first lady arrive in Jakarta on Nov. 9. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. President Obama toasts alongside India's President Pratibha Patil, right, during a state dinner at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, on Monday, Nov. 8. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, right, argues with an official from the Indian Prime Minister's office after the travelling White House press pool was refused entry to the bilateral meeting between President Obama and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Nov. 8. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. The feet of President Barack Obama, right, and First Lady Michelle Obama, left, are seen as they participate in a wreath laying ceremony at Raj Ghat on Nov. 8. The Obamas were visiting the location where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. President Barack Obama reviews the honor guard during an official arrival ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, India on Monday, Nov. 8. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama sprinkle flowers after they laid a wreath at Raj Ghat, the Mahatma Gandhi memorial, in New Delhi, India, on Nov. 8. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Activists and survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy sit at a protest against visiting U.S. President Barack Obama in New Delhi, India, on Nov. 8, 2010. The 1984 gas leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal killed about 15,000 people and sickened some 500,000. (Gurinder Osan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greet each other after a press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, on Nov. 8. (Saurabh Das / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are welcomed by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gusharan Kaur as they arrive at Rashtrapati Bahavan in New Delhi on Nov. 8. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. President Barack Obama, right, and first lady Michelle Obama tour through Humayun's Tomb in New Dehli on Nov. 7. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Barack Obama bends down to shake hands with a young child as he tours through Humayun's Tomb in New Dehli on Nov. 7. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as first lady Michelle Obama and Gusharan Kaur, right, watch after arriving in New Delhi on Nov. 7. (Prakash Singh / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Barack Obama, left, watches on as first lady Michelle Obama dances with children during their visit to the Holy Name High School in Mumbai, India, on Nov. 7. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Barack Obama speaks during a town hall meeting with students at St. Xavier College in Mumbai on Nov. 7. (Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Barack Obama shakes hands with students at St. Xavier College in Mumbai on Nov. 7. (Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Michelle and Barack Obama view the 26/11 memorial Saturday at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, site of the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India. Obama flew into India's commercial capital on Saturday aiming to boost ties and seal big-ticket business deals to secure jobs and exports days after voters punished his Democrats in mid-term elections. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Activists of the Communist Party of India and members of various other organizations stage a demonstration Saturday against Barack Obama's visit in Mumbai. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. President Barack Obama waves to photographers through a window from backstage as he waits to deliver remarks at the U.S.-India business council and entrepreneurship summit Saturday in Mumbai, India. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. President Barack Obama greets members of the audience after delivering remarks at the U.S.-India business council and entrepreneurship summit Saturday in Mumbai, India. Obama announced $10 billion in business deals. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Handwritten notes by President Barack Obama, top, and first lady Michelle Obama are seen in the guest book during their Saturday tour of the Mani Bhavan Ghandi Museum, where Mahatma Gandhi resided on his visits to Mumbai. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. An Indian shopkeeper shows a cushion with a painting of Michelle Obama designed by Arpita Kalra, in New Delhi, India, Saturday. (Manish Swarup / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Michelle Obama plays a game while entertaining underprivileged children Saturday during her visit to the Mumbai University. (Solaris Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Indian micro-artist Ramesh Sah, 47, shows the nail of his thumb painted with a miniature image of President Barack Obama on Saturday in support of Obama's visit to India in Siliguri. (Diptendu Dutta / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Barack and Michelle Obama descend Air Force One as they disembark Saturday on arrival at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India. (Solaris Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Indonesian Muslims wear slippers during a protest against the planned visit of President Barack Obama outside the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sunday, Nov. 7. Obama is scheduled to visit the world's most populous Muslim nation next week. (Dita Alangkara / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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Video: Obama taps India's boom for American jobs

  1. Closed captioning of: Obama taps India's boom for American jobs

    >>> president obama is preparing to head to indonesia tonight after spending the last several days in india . the president wants to tap into that country's growing economic power to create jobs back home, while walking a tight rope between two neighborhood adversaries who are both u.s. allies, india and pakistan . our own lee cowan is traveling with the president in new delhi tonight.

    >> reporter: all the colors of india were on diplomatic display this morning. the president was welcomed at india 's presidential palace , before they paid their respects at a memorial to ghandi. the white house bills this visit as a job hunting mission and the today the president was quick to point to recent trade deals that he says are proof that india is no longer just a destination for u.s. outsourcing.

    >> i want to be able to say to the american people , when they ask me why are you spending time with india , aren't they taking our jobs? i want to be able to say they just created 50,000 jobs.

    >> reporter: india 's trillion dollar economy has made it a global power . enough that it now wants a permanent seat on the u.n. security council . an idea the president endorsed while addressing india 's parliament.

    >> in the years ahead, i look forward to a reformed united nations security council .

    >> reporter: but dogging him throughout the trip has been pakistan , a u.s. ally but bitter rival of india . the president called for dialogue, but india 's prime minister says not until pakistan cracks down on terrorist safe havens .

    >> you cannot simultaneously be talking and at the same time be terrorists as active as before.

    >> reporter: the remark was aimed directly at pakistan .

    >> the pakistan government is not strong enough to be able to take an agreement with india into the public domain and sell it politically.

    >> reporter: since his arrival, it's been a hectic mix of culture and policy. he was reluctant to take to the dance floor over the weekend. but first lady michelle obama has been dancing, even hob scotching her way from one indian venue to another. the next stop, the president's boyhood home of indonesia, then korea and japan for economic summits. lee

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