Subject: Megawati gets thumbs down from human rights groups

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Agence France-Presse December 31, 2001

Megawati gets thumbs down from human rights groups

Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri has scored a poor end-of-year report card from the country's human rights advocates, who accuse her of abandoning reforms and cosying up to figures from the former Suharto regime.

Two victims' advocate groups, Petisi 50 and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), accused Megawati of reconciling with powerful human rights abusers and ignoring their past records, the Jakarta Post reported Monday.

They cited her appointment of retired general Hendropriyono to head the National Intelligence Agency, overlooking his involvement in the shooting deaths of student protestors in Lampung in southern Sumatra in the 80s.

"Getting rid of the actors of the New Order is a must," Petisi 50 secretary Chris Siner Key Timu was quoted as saying.

The groups attacked Megawati's failure to address grievances over arbitrary killings, torture and kidnappings in the separatist-war afflicted provinces of Papua and Aceh, since she took over the presidency in July.

"The government has failed to show its commitment to seriously processing human rights violations," Kontras coordinator Ori Rahman was quoted as saying.

"The separatist problems in Aceh and Papua cannot be solved by imposing laws of... autonomy."

They said the failure to prosecute any of the suspects named for gross human rights violations during East Timor's move to independence in 1999 illustrated a lack of commitment to redressing rights grievances.

The rights advocates also pointed to the terrorisation of activists in 2001.

Papuan independence leader, Theys Hiyo Eluay, was killed in November by unknown assailants after leaving a military celebration in the capital Jayapura.

Rights activists in Aceh have been shot at, and early in the year the rector of Aceh's Syahkuala University, Dayan Dawood, was shot dead.

Last week a group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the Urban Poor Consortium and the Institute for Human Rights' Study and Advocacy (Elsham) said that under Megawati the military had strengthened, corruption had flourished, and law enforcement had weakened.

"The reform process that was expected to repair the situation has become stagnant," Johnson Panjaitan of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association, said.

Megawati's consideration of abolishing multimillion-dollar corruption charges against the sick former dictator Suharto was attacked as a backwards step in the fight against corruption.

"The plan to grant former president Suharto an abolition is a setback in law enforcement as such a move constitutes granting immunity," the NGOs said in a written statement.

Elsham's Ifdal Khasim said Megawati lacked the courage to deal with various criminal cases because her decisions were based on political considerations.

"Every move Megawati makes is based on political considerations because she prefers political stability to a commitment to bring about justice," Ifdal was quoted as saying by the Post.

On Saturday Megawati told soldiers celebrating Army Day not to fear being accused of human rights violations, but to stay firm in carrying out their duties.

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