Jakarta – At least 121 innocent people accused of being terrorists or involved in terrorist networks have died at the hands of the Detachment 88 Special Anti-Terror Unit (Densus 88) after being detained or during interrogation.
Lingkar Madani Executive Director Ray Rangkuti says that the pattern of arrests and interrogations of alleged terrorists carried out by Densus 88 is extremely dangerous. This according to Ray could threaten broader society because [anybody] could become a target for the elite anti-terrorist unit.
“These methods could endanger all of us. It’s disgraceful, history records that 121 people have died. Our spirit of reformasi [the reform process that began in 1998] will be questioned”, said Ray during a press conference titled “Seeking Justice for Suratmi” held jointly with the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) and other human rights observers at the offices of PP Muhammadiyah on Jl. Menteng Raya in Central Jakarta on Friday April 1.
The number of dead could continue to rise because there is no independent party that can audit the Densus 88’s performance. “What is the value of an Indonesian citizen’s life? Is it two wads of cash. An Indonesian citizen’s death resolved by two wads of cash. What is the relationship between a life and this money. If police gave the money because a person died, then (the cause of the death) was most certainly a state institution”, said Ray.
Ray also deplored the fact that an Indonesian citizen who was only an alleged terrorist and in good health was arrested immediately but then suddenly returned home as a corpse. Ray believes that there were no grounds for the arrest.
“On what basis is a person who is suspected arrested? What is the meaning of the two wads of cash given [to his wife Suratmi], it’s not enough for it to be handled by the national police’s Professionalism and Security Affairs division (Propam Polri), there must be an independent investigation team”, he asserted.
Because of this Ray is calling for Densus 88 to be disbanded and a complete evaluation of the national police system. Ray explained that the national police as an institution are no longer able to adapt to current developments.
“Disband Densus, why is Densus under the structure of our national police. Evaluate all of the national police’s systems, the national police should no longer be able to deal with drivers licenses or arrest people. The national police and Attorney General are institutions that have yet to be reformed or touched to this day. Return their focus to law enforcement and security only, other functions that are not in accordance with this must be abandoned”, he asserted. (AH/viva)
Siyono died while in police custody after he was arrested on March 8 by Densus 88. Siyono’s family and several human rights groups suspect that physical abuse led to his death. According to Indonesian media reports, on March 11 Siyono’s wife Suratmi was given parcel containing two wads of cash by the national police as an expression of condolence over the death of her husband. Police have declined to comment on the matter.
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was Ngeri!! Sedikitnya 121 Orang Tak Bersalah Meninggal Ditangan Densus 88.]