Families of missing activists still not being given voice...

Kompas – September 30, 2010
Photographs of activists abducted in 1998 (Tribune)
Photographs of activists abducted in 1998 (Tribune)

M. Hernowo – On September 28, 2009, a House of Representatives (DPR) plenary session decided to accept the recommendations of the Special Committee on Missing Persons on the results of an investigation into the forced disappearances of activists in 1997-1998.

In order to commemorate the decision which was made exactly one-year old on Tuesday September 28, human rights activists together with victims and their families visited the DPR building in Jakarta to demand the implementation of the DPR special committee recommendation. They included, among others, Mugiyanto (an abduction victim who was later released), Toeti Koto (the mother of Yani Afrie, an abduction victim still missing), Nurhasanah (the mother of Yadin Muhidin, still missing) and Utomo Rahardjo (the father of Petrus Bima, also still missing).

They were accompanied by members of the DPR’s Commission III for Legal Affairs T. Gayus Lumbuun and Ichsan Soelistio (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle faction), Nasir Djamil (Justice and Prosperity Party faction) and Ahmad Yani (United Development Party faction).

Two DPR members from the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) faction, who were also victims of the abductions but later released, Pius Lustrilanang and Desmond J. Mahesa, were not present.

Mugiyanto said that the DPR’s recommendations on the missing persons case is in fact complete. The recommendations were to form an ad hoc human rights court, find the 13 activists that are still missing, rehabilitate and provide compensation to the victims and ratify the UN Convention on Forced Disappearances.

“In the short-term the step we are waiting for is finding our 13 colleagues who are still missing”, said Mugiyanto. The abducted activists who are still missing are Yani Afrie, Yadin Muhidin, Sony, Herman Hendrawan, Dedi Hamdun, Noval Alkatiri, Ismail, Suyat, Petrus Bima Anugrah, Wiji Thukul, Ucok Munandar Siahaan, Hendra Hambali and Abdun Naser.

“For 12 years we have fought for truth and justice, but have not yet obtained it. We hope that the DPR will continue to monitor what follow up actions are taken by the government on the special committee’s recommendations”, said Utomo.

Lumbuun said, “We respect and understand your presence. However, our time is limited because we have to take part in the selection of Supreme Court justices at the DPR III commission”.

“I won’t be able to speak?” asked Koto. Lumbuun answered, “Please, but just for a moment because our time is limited”.

Koto, who is 75-years-old, finally spoke. “This [issue] must be fully resolved. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) must resolve it. He is the Number 1 person here. Don’t be afraid!”

Lumbuun explained that the DPR does not have the authority to execute the recommendation. However the DPR would continue to monitor the recommendations of the special committee on missing persons.

“The president might as well just respond, will he or will he not respond to the DPR’s recommendations. We hope of course that he will”, said Djamil. A similar view was expressed by Ahmad Yani and Soelistio.

Journalists’ questions for the victims’ families however were cut off by Ahmad Yani who immediately closed the meeting because there was another agenda pending at Commission III, namely the selection of Supreme Court justices.

One year after the DPR’s recommendations the situation remains up in the air...

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Missing Persons: They still find it hard to speak...”.]