Adhyasta Dirgantara, Jakarta – Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician and 1998 activist Budiman Sudjatmiko says that Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) Chairperson Prabowo Subianto claimed in 2002 to have repatriated all of the activists that were abducted in 1998.
Prabowo said however that he does not know the fate of the abduction victims who never returned home or were declared missing. At least 13 of the victims of the 1997-98 abductions are still missing to this day.
This was conveyed by Sudjatmiko during a Gaspol! talk-show program broadcast on the Kompas.com YouTube channel on Wednesday July 26. Sudjatmiko explained that he and one of the other abductees, who was also returned home, Nezar Patria, interviewed Prabowo in 2002.
"Yeah, why not? Why not if one day we could talk about it with Pak [Mr] Prabowo? So in 2002 I asked about it. But I forgot to convey it in 2002 when Nezar and I interviewed [Prabowo]", said Sudjatmiko on the program.
Sudjatmiko then disclosed Prabowo's response during the interview. According to Sudjatmiko, Prabowo admitted that he had indeed abducted the activists, but that he had returned all of the victims to their respective homes.
Meanwhile with regard to the other activists whose whereabouts are still not know to this day, Prabowo claimed not to know their fate.
"(Prabowo said) 'The ones I took were all returned. I returned all of them. I don't know why some of them never returned home. But the ones I took were all released'. That was his admission", said Sudjatmiko.
Sudjatmiko said that the meeting in 2002 was the first time that he met with Prabowo.
During the abduction of pro-democracy activists in 1997-98, Prabowo was still the commander of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus). Kopassus is known to have formed a small team called the Rose Team (Tim Mawar), which carried out the operation to abduct the activists.
During the New Order era, Indonesia's second president Suharto did everything possible to hold on to power. He silenced any and all criticism aimed at him, even by means of violence. A number of activists were abducted. Some were released, but some have never returned to this day.
The Rose Team was formed by Kopassus because of the July 27, 1996 affair. At the time, street thugs supported by the military took over and attacked sympathisers of then opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, who were hold up at the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) office on Jalan Diponegoro in Central Jakarta.
The Rose Team was tasked with detecting radical groups, perpetrators of riots and terrorism.
On January 18, 1998, a bomb exploded at the Tanah Tinggi apartments in Central Jakarta. The incident made the Rose Team more influential in security affairs. The Rose Team then put together a plan to arrest the activists who were suspected of being involved in the Tanah Tinggi explosion.
Budiman Sudjatmiko is the former chairperson of the leftist People's Democratic Party (PRD), who along with several other PRD activists was arrested on August 11, 1996 and accused of being the masterminds behind the July 27 riots at the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) offices in Central Jakarta. In April 1997, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for subversion and insulting the government. He was released on December 10, 1999, more than one-and-a-half years after former President Suharto was forced to step down, after being granted amnesty by President Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid. In December 2004, he joined the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and was later elected to parliament for two periods in 2009-2014 and 2014-2019.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tanyakan Isu Penculikan ke Prabowo, Budiman Sudjatmiko: Beliau Bilang Sudah Dikembalikan Semua".]