House targets target former generals over 1997-1998 abductions

Kompas – October 18, 2008
National Human Rights Commission - The TNI must be held liable (tribunnews)
National Human Rights Commission - The TNI must be held liable (tribunnews)

Jakarta – In the lead up to the 2009 general elections, the House of Representatives (DPR) Special Committee on the 1997/1998 Abduction of Activists has been revived again. Moreover, within a short time, the special committee plans to summon Wiranto, Prabowo Subianto, Sutiyoso and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who are alleged to be involved in the case.

At the time of the abductions, retired General Wiranto was the chief of the Indonesian military (TNI), retired Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto was the commander of the army’s special forces (Kopassus), retired Lieutenant General Sutiyoso was the Jakarta military commander and General Yudhoyono was the assistant to the TNI’s chief of staff for social and political affairs.

“We’re not just trying to dig up dirt on these people, but because it is based on a recommendation by Komnas HAM (the National Human Rights Commission)”, said the DPR Special Committee for Missing Persons chairperson Effendi MS Simbolon from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle faction when speaking to the press on Friday October 17.

According to Simbolon, the Komnas HAM recommendation also mentioned the name of late President Suharto, who at the time was still leading the country.

The committee plans to begin summoning victims and the family members of abduction victims on Wednesday and Thursday next week. The summoning of various figures is expected to be done during the next sitting of the house. “If the victims stated that they are involved, yes, we’ll summon them,” he said.

When contacted separately, committee deputy chairperson Hilang Yorrys Raweyai from the Golkar Party faction confirmed that the committee has been revived by the certain factions in the DPR. The stand of the Golkar faction however, is to oppose the plan. “I have already asked the central leadership board. We don’t want to look to the past,” he said.

Komnas HAM conclusions

Komnas HAM concluded that there was prima facie evidence of gross human rights violations in the forced abductions of activists in 1997-1998. This conclusion was based on an investigation and the testimonies of 58 victims and community members, 18 active and retired members of the national police and a retired TNI officer.

There were 23 victims of the forced abductions in 1997-1998. The fate of as many as 13 of these people remain unknown to this day. They are Yani Afrie, Sony, Herman Hendrawan, Dedi Hamdun, Noval Alkatiri, Ismail, Suyat, Petrus Bima Anugrah, Wiji Thukul, Ucok Munandar Siahaan, Hendra Hambali, Yadin Muhidin and Abdun Naser.

Ten others meanwhile, who were also arrested and detained, were later released. The are Mugiyanto, Aan Rusdianto, Nezar Patria, Faisol Riza, Raharja Waluyo Jati, Haryanto Taslam, Andi Arief, Pius Lustrilanang, Desmond J. Mahesa and “St”.

On December 22, 2006, Komnas HAM asked the DPR to urge the president to deploy and mobilise all law enforcement officials to investigate the case. On February 7, 2007, DPR speaker Agung Laksono also asked President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to order Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh to carry out an investigation based on Komnas HAM’s findings and resolve the case of the 13 abducted activists. (sut)

[Translated by James Balowski.]