Families of disappeared activists say Yudhoyono must take action

Kompas – November 5, 2008
Justice and Human Rights Minister Andi Mattalatta (fajaronline)
Justice and Human Rights Minister Andi Mattalatta (fajaronline)

Kompas – The families of missing activists hope that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will not take conventional measures in completing the investigation of the forced disappearance of activists that occurred in 1997-98. Particularly given that 13 of those who disappeared have to this day still not returned.

The families of the missing persons, who are part of the Indonesian Association of the Families of Missing Persons (IKOHI), together with the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) met with Justice and Human Rights Minister Andi Mattalatta at the Department of Justice and Human Rights in Jakarta on Tuesday November 4.

IKOHI Coordinator Mugiyanto said that the forced disappearances that occurred in 1997-1998 represent a unique case because the victims are still missing, yet not one perpetrator of the disappearances has been has been sentenced by a court.

“Legal steps are not enough because the evidence has confirmed that the perpetrators are free while the victims who disappeared have still not been found. The president must uncover this case of forced disappearances”, he said.

According to Mugiyanto, the president has the authority to force the Indonesian military (TNI) headquarters to open up its documents. The commander in chief of the TNI has already said, if asked, that he is prepared to provide documents from Officers Honour Council. President Yudhoyono as once a member of the council, which took part in examining the offices allegedly involved in the abductions.

One of the basic things for the families of the disappeared is following up the recommendation by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), that the Attorney General continue to investigate the case, that the House of Representatives recommend the formation of an ad hoc human rights court and that the president be asked to continue searching for the missing victims.

Kontras deputy coordinator Indria Fernida however said that they were disappointed with the substance of a meeting with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights. During the meeting, said Fernida, Mattalatta based his comments on legal efforts such as returning the case to the Attorney General’s Office.

“We have yet to see any breakthrough by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights,” said Fernida. (VIN)

[Translated by James Balowski.]