Elga Hikari Putra, Gambir – In the aftermath of his meeting with Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson and the party's presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician and former People's Democratic Party (PRD) chairperson Budiman Sudjatmiko has been labeled as disreputable by his former colleagues from the Suharto's New Order regime era.
The former PRD activists, who have now joined the Democratic People's Front (Front Rakyat Demokratik, FRD) for Justice for the Victims of Forced Disappearances, said that Sudjatmiko has totally betrayed their struggle to win reformasi – the political reform process that began in 1998.
"He not only betrayed the struggle of his friends, but also betrayed his own struggle having been arrested and imprisoned along with his pro-democracy friends [in the fight] to win democracy and bury the Suharto dictatorship", said former PRD secretary general for the period 1996-2002, Petrus H Hariyanto, at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) offices in Menteng, Central Jakarta on July 27.
Hariyanto cannot stop thinking about Sudjatmiko's move to openly praise Prabowo. Yet in the eyes of pro-democracy activists, Prabowo is known to have committed gross human rights violations during the New Order period.
Moreover based on data from the Indonesian Association of the Families of Missing Persons (IKOHI), to this day there are 13 activists that were abducted by the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), then under Prabowo's command, who have still not been returned.
"And that is precisely what he (Budiman) is now straddling, namely forming a coalition with his abductor. We criticise, deplore Budiman's move", said Hariyanto.
According to Hariyanto, Sudjatmiko's maneuver will also bring with it a negative effect for activists who are still consistently demanding justice and an investigation into past human rights violations.
"People will think that when activists grow up and become politicians they will change the values of the activist struggle. I think this connotation will become the object of ridicule", he said of Sudjatmiko's stance.
Regardless of Budiman's attitude, which he considers to have gone astray, Hariyanto emphasised that he and scores of other former PRD activists are still standing firm in their struggle for past human rights violations to be processed through legal channels.
"Today we want to restore the dignity [of activists] by saying that not all of us are like Budiman. There many of us who are still concerned and even pledged ourselves [to ensure] that past problems are revealed, including the case of the abductions carried out by Prabowo who today has become a presidential candidate", said Hariyanto.
"We want to restore the values of activists who prioritise honesty, prioritise human rights and humanity", he explained.
Hariyanto asserted that that resolving cases of past human rights violations are a precondition for building national unity.
"Without resolving past human rights cases, there is no substantial unity. Because of this, the nationalism that we put forward is the humanitarian nationalism as was put forward by [Indonesia's founding president] Sukarno", said Hariyanto.
As has been reported, Sudjatmiko visited Prabowo's private residence on Jalan Kertanegara IV in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, on the evening of Tuesday July 18.
Following the two-hour closed meeting, Sudjatmiko praised Prabowo saying he regards him as a figure who deserves to become a leader in the future.
"I hope that Pak [Mr] Prabowo is healthy, continues his tasks, completes his tasks, and I think that the Indonesian people deserve to get the best person, one of which is Pak Prabowo", said Sudjatmiko.
Aside from this, Sudjatmiko admitted to having many similar views on leadership with Prabowo who has been declared as a potential presidential candidate for the 2024 elections by the Great Indonesia Awakening Coalition (KKIR).
One of the similarities is that both of them want Indonesia to rise up amid the current economic turbulence.
"I appreciate him and feel that Pak Prabowo represents a view of political leadership that suits me in the sense of a nation that wants to rise in the midst of turbulence", he said.
Between 1997 and 1998 as many as 23 pro-democracy activists were abducted by members of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus). After extended periods of detention – in many cases the victims were severely tortured – most were released although 13 remain missing and are presumed dead. Former Kopassus commander Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto who was at the time President Suharto's son-in-law, has admitted to ordering the abductions but denies ordering their torture and claims they were all released alive and well. In April 1999, 11 low-ranking Kopassus officers were tried by a military court for the kidnappings and given sentences of between a year and 22 months in prison, although six of them were allowed to remain in the army. Prabowo himself was discharged from the military for ordering the abductions but has never been tried in court.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Buntut Bertemu Prabowo, Budiman Sudjatmiko Dicap Rekan Aktivis Khianati Perjuangan Reformasi".]