Subject: Indonesia: Rights group attacks military chief over Talangsari case

Indonesia: Rights group attacks military chief

Jakarta, 12 Sept.(AKI) - An Indonesian human rights group has condemned remarks made by a top Indonesian military official defending violence committed by the military against alleged insurgents in 1989.

In February 1989, TNI soldiers raided houses in the Talangsari village located in the Lampung province allegedly killing about 246 people. Houses were reportedly burned and there were allegations of torture, demolition and widespread killings.

Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono defended the military's action after a meeting with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"The comments made by the Defence Minister, Juwono Sudarsono, have no logic or legal basis and it's a step back in creating a judicial mechanism that protects the people," said Usman Hamid, lawyer and representative of rights group Kontras in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

Sudarsono defended the actions of the military, or TNI, saying that armed men had attacked and killed police and military personnel at the time, thus justifying military retaliation.

"In that context, it was normal and valid to conduct such military action," said the minister at a media conference.

But Hamid rejected Sudarsono's remarks.

"Where is the proof that the villagers were armed? And what can the minister say about the women and the children found dead and burnt in the village after the raid?" Hamid told AKI.

Last week, the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights or Komnas HAM called the actions by the military a gross violation of human rights.

The motive for the attack by the military was to capture 'Warsidi', a religious teacher accused of having guided a movement that aimed to create an Islamic state and was against the rule of former Indonesian dictator Soeharto.

Hamid also said he supported the formation of a special tribunal to judge military personnel involved in the alleged killings.


Joyo Indonesia News Service

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