Allegations on violence against visitors and negligence at the Siriwini General Hospital in Nabire

The ICP received credible information on various cases of human rights violations at the Siriwini General Hospital in the city of Nabire, Papua Province. The Papuan Tabernacle Church has raised concerns over new policies at the public hospital which have resulted in multiple civil rights violations. In addition, human rights defenders raised a case indicating the neglect of minimum health quality standards. An alleged neglect caused the death of a four-year-old child in June 2018.

The director of Siriwini General Hospital, Dr. Johni Ribo Tandasau, has introduced visitor cards (see image on the left) for relatives and friends who come to the hospital to visit the patients. Visitors have to purchase the cards for IDR 50.000, approximately € 3,30. The director has justified the policy, claiming that too many visitors and repeated confrontation under the influence of alcohol disturb the recovery of patients and have allegedly resulted in an increased mortality rate at the Siriwini hospital.

According to eyewitness reports the hospital is heavily guarded by members of the police and military, which have been deployed to enforce the new visitor policy and maintain public order at the hospital. Military personnel allegedly carry out other tasks of hospital employees, for example transferring the bodies of patients who died in the Siriwini Hospital to the relatives of the deceased. Since January 2019, all persons coming to the hospital are being asked by security force members regarding the purpose of their visit. Human rights defenders claim, that members of the military repeatedly tortured indigenous Papuans who came to Siriwini Hospital to visit sick friends or relatives without purchasing the visitor card. Especially indigenous Papuans, who look back on a 50-years-long history of violence are afraid and traumatized by the military – many do not dare to come to the Siriwini Hospital since the heavy military presence.   

The policy is of highly discriminatory nature, particularly affecting poor people and indigenous Papuans whose kinship system is based on clans. Clans can consist of several core families, which are still considered as close relatives. Moreover, human rights defenders have reported that the quality of healthcare services is very low. The hospital is chronically understaffed, hence sudden drops of the physical condition of patients remain unrecognized and often unaddressed so relatives permanently need to look after the patient. As a result of these developments, many indigenous Papuans have returned to traditional forms of treatment – even for serious diseases – because the Siriwini Hospital has a particularly bad reputation for the low quality of its health services. The death of four-year-old Selinda Tenouye is emblematic for the negligence of minimum health standards at the Siriwini Hospital. In this case, the prescription of inadequate intravenous medication caused the death of the patient only 15 minutes after the infusion was administered.             
Cases of alleged civil rights violations at the Siriwini General Hospital

•    On 3 March 2019, 53-years-old Anton Muyapa went to visit his son, Son Kadepa, who was just admitted to the infirmary for children of Siriwini Hospital after experiencing strong headaches and vomiting. The entrance door to the examination room was guarded by a member of Denzipur 112 military unit. Anton Muyapa told the officer that he wanted to visit his son and was permitted to enter. After five minutes the military officer came in and announced that all persons without visitor card need to leave the room. Anton Muyapa asked the military officer to stay longer with his son for several minutes. Thereupon, the military officer allegedly slapped Anton Muyapa multiple times in the face, causing him to fall on the ground. Hearing the noise from the examination room, eight military members rushed into the room and collectively kicked Anton Muyapa with combat boots to the head, on the chest and the back until he fainted. The incident was witnessed by his son and several of his relatives.

Subsequently, the military members dragged him outside the hospital on the street where they left Anton Muyapa lying on the road. The military members told the relatives who witnessed the torture to lift up Anton Muyapa and bring him to the emergency unit for treatment. The relatives brought Anton Muyapa to the emergency unit, where Anton regain consciousness after a nurse had poured water over his head.

Anton MuyapaThe military members seized the mobile phones of all patients and visitors, including Anton Muyapa’s relatives. They also told the told Anton Muyapa’s relatives to bring thirteen-year-old Son Kadepa back home, although the child had just been admitted to the hospital and only received an initial treatment. The family, including Anton Muyapa and his sick son left the Siriwini hospital on the same day, in fear of further reprisals. Anton Muyapa sustained multiple injuries as a result of the torture: Both of his lips burst, his right temple as well as the forehead were bruised and his nose was bleeding. He sustained swellings on both cheeks, above the left eye and a bleeding wound on the back of the head (see image on the right). Anton Muyapa stated that he felt a strong pain in both shoulders and the chest after the attack.

•    On 22 February 2019, around 3.00 pm, 22-years-old Naftali Yogi went to the Siriwini Hospital to visit one of his relatives who was undergoing medical treatment. Shortly after he entered the hospital room, a member of Denzipur 112 came to the room and asked Naftali Yogi “Where is your card?” Not knowing the hospital’s new visitor policy, Naftali asked the military officer “What card?”. Without making any further attempts to inform Naftali Yogi about the obligatory visitor card, the military officer began to punch Naftali in the face and kick him with combat boots to the legs. Furthermore, the officer beat Naftali Yogi’s body and head with a rattan stick. Naftali Yogi’s mouth and nose were both bleeding as a result of the torture. Several elder men who witnessed the torture instantly intervened the beating and brought Naftali Yogi to the emergency unit. After receiving medical first aid, Naftaliinstantly left the Siriwini hospital.

John Kamandirai•    On 22 March 2019, at 9.00 am, 34-year-old farmer Jhon Kamandirai went to the Siriwini Hospital to look after his sick in-law, because his wife had to leave the hospital to take care of the children. Before entering the hospital, Jhon Kamandirai asked a military officer guarding the entrance gate for permission to enter the hospital. The military officer denied Jhon Kamandirai to access the hospital because he did not have any visitor card. Thereupon, Jhon went around the building and entered an unguarded door at the backside of the hospital. As he saw that his in-law was currently sleeping, he decided to leave the hospital again. When he wanted to exit the hospital parking space on his motor cycle, two members of the Denzipur 112 Infantry Unit approached him and punched him to the face. Subsequently, the two military officers struck Jhon Kamndirai four times with a rattan stick on both shoulders and twice to the back of the head. John Kamandirai managed to escape with the motorcycle. He sustained a swelling on the left side of his forehead (see image on the right). After the incident he experienced headache and pain in both shoulders as a result of the blows with the rattan stick.

Death of Selinda Tenouye at the Siriwini General Hospital

Amino Infusion•    On 9 June 2018, four-year-old Selinda Tenouye was examined at the Siriwini Hospital. Doctors suggested that she would have to come to the hospital once a day to receive medication, she parents brought Selinda every day to the Siriwini Hospital, where she received medical infusions. After a few days, the parents stated that Selinda’s condition already improved.  On 13 June 2018, a doctor examined Selinda Tenouye and prescribed an infusion of Aminofusin Paed (5% Amino Acids Solution for Pediatrics). After the infusion was attached, Selinda Tenouye suddenly got high fever and died approximately 15 minutes later. A video which the parents recorded shows that the liquid inside the infusion bottle was unusual cloudy (see image on the right), indicating that the Aminofusin Paed was no longer suitable for prescription.