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Subject: JP - Habibie urged to release all political prisoners unconditionally
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 09:07:58 -0000
From: "Paula Carvalho Pinto" <>

Jakarta Post 29 Dec 98

Habibie urged to release all political prisoners unconditionally

JAKARTA (JP): Observers are appealing to President B.J. Habibie to grant amnesty to all political prisoners to signal a clean break from Soeharto's New Order regime.

Political scientist Muhammad A.S. Hikam of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) discussed in a seminar on Monday the "social death" suffered by political prisoners under Soeharto's regime from the alienation accompanying discriminatory labels.

Released communist prisoners, for instance, were treated as if they were disfranchised as citizens, Hikam said. "There's no (other) such regime in the world. "

He believed the pardon should extend to jailed East Timorese rebel leader Alexandre Xanana Gusmao and that Habibie should invite him to contribute to the search for solutions to problems in the former Portuguese colony.

"It (Habibie's regime) must free all political prisoners ... especially Xanana Gusmao ... to (show) it is not the continuation of Soeharto's regime," Hikam said. "Let him go and invite him to talk to find solution to the East Timor problem. "

Habibie must also revive all the rights of the political prisoners released, he said.

"What does it (Habibie's administration) have to lose anyway?" asked 77-year-old former political prisoner Suhario Padmodiwilyo. Better known as Hario Kecik, he was formerly commander of the East Kalimantan military command from 1959 to 1964.

Ken, a 65-year-old who was jailed for links to the outlawed Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) from 1965 to 197~, complained: "Even if we've been freed our rights are still shackled. "

The resident of Pasar Minggu in South Jakarta asked that he be identified only by his initials because he did not want his 17year-old son to find out he was an "ex-PKI", a stigma that he claimed he suffered without any justification.

"We've been victims of a crime we did not commit.

"Please help us in any way you can so our children won't have to suffer like us." he told The Jakarta Post.

Another speaker, Gustaf Dupe of the Action Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, pleaded to Habibie's "intellectuality, legal and political capacity as well as his conscience" to thoroughly solve the problem of political prisoners.

Oka Mahendra, who represented Minister of Justice Muladi in the discussion, said there were 232 political prisoners across the country.

Oka said Habibie's administration had freed 109 political prisoners since last May.


He added that the government was studying the plan to release 70 more political prisoners through various presidential leniency terms.

Hikam said Habibie's regime had no justification at all to keep political prisoners in jail.

Also speaking in the discussion attended by around 100 people was criminologist Mulyana W. Kusumah.

Mulyana described the "elimination of rights" as a typical of the military's desire for "total conquest" of their enemies.

"It's a policy," he said.

He cited how ex-political prisoners were still required to routinely report to military offices, while their ID cards carried distinguishing stamps.

Even political bills being deliberated by the House of Representatives continue the policy through articles barring ex-political prisoners and their families from holding elected office, Mulyana said.

He said the stipulation gave the military leeway to carry out its special security screening--notorious in the country as litsus--for legislative candidates despite it being ruled out of the bills. (aan)

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