Two years on, Yudhoyono still ignoring recommendations on abducted activists

Kompas – September 29, 2011
Protest at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle calling for justice for activists abducted in 1997-1998 (Tentik)
Protest at Hotel Indonesia traffic circle calling for justice for activists abducted in 1997-1998 (Tentik)

Jakarta – For two years now, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has ignored the House of Representatives’ (DPR) recommendations on the forced abduction and disappearance of 13 activists in 1997-1998. There were four recommendations issued by the DPR on September 30, 2009 in relation to the case.

The four recommendations were, first, that the president establishes an ad hoc human rights court. Second, that the president along with all government institutions and related parties attempt to find the 13 people declared missing by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM). Third, the government rehabilitate and provide compensation to the families of the victims. And fourth, the government immediately ratify the United Nations Convention Against Forced Disappearances.

“Now what about the president. We want the president’s answer, has [the case] been put on ice or will it be followed up”, said Effendi Simbolon, the former chairperson of the DPR’s Special Committee on the Forced Abduction and Disappearances in 1997/1998, in Jakarta on Wednesday September 28, 2011.

Utomo, the father of one of the victims, Petrus Bima Anugrah, said that the president has committed a breach of justice. Two out of the four recommendations have been forwarded to the president but to this day it is unclear how he has followed them up. The president is intentionally playing for time and blocking the victims and their families from finding the truth, obtaining justice and rehabilitation.

“The president is also a military man, and he knows if there was a justification for what happened, [he] could convey this”, said Effendi.

Because of this therefore, the DPR leadership is being asked to take action. Nasir Jamil, a member of the DPR’s Commission III on law and security affairs, is calling on the DPR leadership to take the initiative, including summoning the minister responsible for the issue.

Eva Sundari, a legislator from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said that the DPR has political options such as the right of interpolation or to declare an opinion. It should be that in accordance with Law Number 26/2000 on Human Rights Courts, an ad hoc human rights court to hear cases of gross human rights violations can be formed on a recommendation by the DPR to the president. “This relates to a constitutional mandate”, asserted Nasir.

The deputy chairperson of the special committee meanwhile, Darmayanto, said that the issue should not be politicised. All parties, including the government and the ruling party, must seek to resolve this human rights issue.

Ahmad Yani, also a member of the DPR’s Commission III, said that Komnas HAM should not relinquish its responsibilities in the case and oversee the matter after having released the results of its investigation, which found that gross human rights violations occurred in the forced disappearance of the 13 people in 1997/1998. Commission III has repeatedly asked the Attorney General’s Office about what progress is being made in the case. “The response however is always that it remains to be upgraded to an investigation”, he said.

Sipon meanwhile, the wife of abducted People’s Democratic Party (PRD) activist and poet Wiji Thukul, told about the daily discrimination that she faces. She has found it difficult to obtain employment and the process of dealing with her land certificate has been left up in the air for five years. (EDN)

The 13 Abducted activists

1. Petrus Bima Anugrah – Student activist/PRD
2. Herman Hendrawan – Student activist/PRD
3. Suyat – Student activist/PRD
4. Wiji Thukul – Artist and poet
5. Yani Afri – PDI-P supporter
6. Dedi Hamdun – United Development Party (PPP) supporter
7. Ismail – Dedi Hamdun’s driver
8. Noval Alkatiri – Colleague of Dedi Hamdun
9. Ucok M Siahaan – Student activist
10. Hendra Hambali – Student
11. Yadin Muhidin – Student activist
12. M Yusuf – Teacher
13. Sonny – PDI-P supporter

On September 29, 2009, the DPR made four recommendations to the government, but none of these have been followed up. The recommendations were:

1. Requesting that the president form an ad hoc human rights court.
2. Requesting that all government institutions and related parties conduct an immediate search for the 13 activists that are still missing.
3. Rehabilitate and provide compensation to the families of the victims that disappeared and ratify the UN Convention Against Forced Disappearances as form of support from the government.
4. End the practice of forced disappearances in Indonesia.

Source: Kompas Research and Development/YOH, prepared by the Indonesian Association of the Families of Missing Persons (Ikohi) and “Kompas” news reports.


In 1999 Lieutenant General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was a member of the Officers Honour Council that examined the officers from the Army Elite Special Forces (Kopassus) who were involved in the abductions and is therefore believed to have key information on case.

Source: Korban penculikan: Sudah Dua Tahun Presiden Abaikan Rekomendasi DPR – Kompas. Kamis, 29 September 2011

 [Translated by James Balowski.]