On Friday February 19, there was something different taking place at the Army’s Special Forces or Kopassus headquarters in Cijantung, East Jakarta.
The Kopassus headquarters, which is known as being “angker” (ghostlike, eerie, terrible), was visited by around 30 protesters. They were family members of the victims of forced disappearances in 1997-1998 accompanied by activists from the Indonesian Association of the Families of Missing Persons (Ikohi) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
Riding in an executive bus, they arrived at the elite forces headquarters carrying a woven basket filled with snacks that they planned to share out among their friends and family members who are still missing and believed to be held at the headquarters. “The last time I met with Petrus Bima (one of the missing victims) was here,” said Ikohi chairperson Mugianto, who was also a victim of the abductions and finally released.
In addition to Mugianto, also visiting the Kopassus headquarters was Sipon, the wife of Widji Thukul, Petrus Bima’s father Utomo, Yani Afri’s mother Tuti Koto and several other family members of the victims.
Kopassus headquarters detachment commander infantry Lieutenant Colonel Kartika Adi Putranta and Kopassus Deputy Assistant for Intelligence Lieutenant Colonel I Nyoman Suparta refused to accept the basket of food.
They claimed not to have serving at Cijantung in the period 1997-1998 so they did not know the whereabouts of those who are missing. “They came here meaning well, and we received them accordingly also,” said Kopassus Deputy Commander Brigadier General Wisnu Bawa Tenaya.
The action ended peacefully, but with the protesters leaving the Kopassus headquarters without any assurances. But they will not tire of searching.
They are also still awaiting the issuance of a presidential decree to shed light on the case. “I’ve waited for 13 years now. The president must implement the DPR’s recommendations”, said Tuti Koto.
In late 2009, the House of Representatives (DPR) recommended the formation of an ad hoc human rights court, a search for the 13 people declared still missing by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the rehabilitation of and the provisions of compensation to the families of the disappeared and the ratification of the UN Convention on Forced Disappearances.
Kontras coordinator Usman Hamid said that the important thing is seeking certainty about the fate of the missing people, whether they are alive or dead. Hamid also confirmed that he had met with the president’s special staff member for social affairs, Andi Arief. “We spoke about a planned presidential regulation on the search for the missing people and planned compensation”, said Hamid.
In the eyes of the victims however, material assistance is not the priority. Mugianto insisted that he would not pawn justice for the sake of material compensation... (EDN/AIK)
[Translated by James Balowski.]