Subject: JP: Indon human rights activists targeted in terror attacks

The Jakarta Post March 14, 2002

Human rights activists targeted in terror attacks

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Human rights activists were cautioned on Wednesday of what they called an escalation of terror against them after dozens of people attacked the office building of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) on Jl. Mendut in Central Jakarta.

One Kontras staff member, Edwin Partogi, was beaten by the attackers, who also vandalized property belonging to the human rights organization. Kontras founder Munir was inside the office when the sudden raid took place, but he managed to escape unhurt.

Edwin was rushed to nearby St. Carolus hospital.

Police came minutes after the incident took place, capturing seven key suspects in Pondok Kopi, East Jakarta, in an ensuing chase. The suspects face charges of causing damage to personal property.

Rights activists gathered at the Kontras office later in the day to lend moral support to Kontras members. They said the "act of terror" would not hamper their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.

"This has not been the first crime aimed at terrorizing human rights activists in the country. Other human rights organizations have fallen victim to these crimes, which have never been thoroughly investigated," the chairman of the Indonesian Human Rights Research and Advocacy Association, Hendardi, read out in a joint statement.

Also present were lawyers Todung Mulya Lubis and Johnson Panjaitan, political observer Arbi Sanit, rights activist Karlina Leksono of Kalyana Mitra and chairperson of the National Commission on Human Rights for Women Kemala Chandra Kirana.

Kontras has become the target of violence over the past few years. In 2000 a grenade blast damaged several cars parked in the front yard of its office. Last year unidentified men placed a bomb at Munir's family residence in Malang, East Java. Also in 2001, the car belonging to Jhonson was shot, while it was parked at the Kontras office.

In the latest attack, the mob smashed eight computer terminals and four printers and looted boxes of dried food, instant noodles, milk and mineral water. The basic needs were to be donated to flood victims.

Prior to the incident, some 200 people claiming to be relatives of four members of the military-backed Muslim vigilantes (Pamswakarsa) who were lynched by a mob protesting the Special Session of the People's Consultative Assembly in November 1998, came to protest "Kontras' systematic discrimination at the expense of Muslims".

They said Kontras paid too much attention to the shooting of dozens of students and residents in 1998 and 1999, known as the Trisakti, Semanggi I and II incidents, which allegedly involved the military and police top brass, including former Armed Forces chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto.

"We cannot tolerate Kontras who has terrorized Pak Wiranto," one of the people yelled before breaking in the office and smashing windows and glass panels.

Separately, Wiranto denied his involvement in the incident and said he would sue those who accused him of masterminding it.

Wiranto is one of several officers summoned for the inquiry probing the Trisakti and Semanggi incidents.

The parents of the victims came to pick Wiranto up at his Simprug home on Monday to face the inquiry, but he was not there.

"I've been told that a demonstration took place at my house. I heard it was organized by Kontras. Many legal experts deplored this, when legal issues become a personal matter. I've told my friends not to make exaggerating reactions regarding this," he said after visiting detained House of Representatives speaker, Akbar Tandjung, at the Attorney General's Office.

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