Prabowo camp says better to violate human rights than let county disintegrate

CNN Indonesia – December 27, 2018
Former TNI chief Djoko Santoso (okezone)
Former TNI chief Djoko Santoso (okezone)

Jakarta – The head of the Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno presidential election campaign team (BPN), Djoko Santoso, says that that it is better to violate human rights than allow the country to disintegrate.

Santoso said this in relation to a question on potential attacks against Prabowo over the issue of human rights by his opponents during the upcoming presidential debate on January 17. In the first round of the debate, one of the issues that will be covered is human rights.

“I don’t (worry). For me, if I’m ordered to, I’ll violate human rights, for five years I was asked this question, [would you] violate human rights or let the country be destroyed or disintegrate? Better to violate human rights. If (I violate human rights) then it’s just me that gets punished, (but) the country’s still intact. This is the thinking of a person who has served in conflict areas”, said Santoso in Tebet, Jakarta, on Thursday December 27.

“So (attacks on the issue of human rights) will definitely come out, that’s certain. It’s just that now days the (punishment) for violating human rights is heavier. The accusations against Prabowo were during a period of transition. Now, at the moment it’s a normal period, it’s dangerous now if you’re accused of violating human rights”, he added.

Santoso also touched on the issue of attacks over human rights when Prabowo was paired up with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairperson Megawati Sukarnoputri in the 2009 presidential election. At the time, said Santoso, there was not one person who touched on the issue of human rights that Prabowo is said to have committed.

“Before when Pak [Mr] Prabowo was Bu [Mrs] Megawati’s vice presidential running mate, he wasn’t attacked (over human rights). It was just passed over”, exclaimed the former TNI (Indonesian military) commander.

Santoso said that the issue of human rights is actually being recycled and has now come up again. Specifically that Prabowo stands accused of human rights violations during the transition from the New Order (Orba) regime of former president Suharto to the era of reformasi (the political reform process that began in 1998).

“The human rights (issue) is being recycled, now it’s Pak Prabowo that’s being accused of violating human rights during the transition period”, said Santoso. “But for us now, we have democracy, before it was the transition from the Orba to reformasi, that’s over”, he said.

In relation to the presidential and vice presidential debate which will be held on January 17, the Prabowo camp has prepared for a number of contingencies both in terms of materials as well as the preparedness of the two candidates.

Santoso also said that he hopes that all the television stations will be able to broadcast the debate live. “We have proposed that all of the TV [stations] be allowed to broadcast it live, so they can each cover it. If he is strong in one TV [broadcast] in Jakarta but not strong in other regions then other TV [stations] can cover it”, he asserted. (tst/arh)


Between 1997 and 1998 as many as 23 pro-democracy activists were abducted by members of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus). After extended periods of detention – in many cases the victims were severely tortured – most were released although 13 remain missing and are presumed dead. Former Kopassus commander Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto who was at the time President Suharto’s son-in-law, has admitted to ordering the abductions but denies ordering their torture and claims they were all released alive and well. In April 1999, 11 low-ranking Kopassus officers were tried by a military court for the kidnappings and given sentences of between a year and 22 months in prison, although six of them were allowed to remain in the army. Prabowo himself was discharged from the military for ordering the abductions but has never been tried in court.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Ketua Timses Prabowo Pilih Langgar HAM daripada Negara Runtuh”.]