Subject: Human Rights in Indonesia Threatened

also Vote against 'human rights abusers


Human Rights in Indonesia is Threatened

Friday, 1- May, 2009 | 12:31 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: Human rights activists said that a presidential candidate who has a background on human rights violation in the past will hurt the democratic process in Indonesia. They mentioned Prabowo Subianto from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and Wiranto from the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) as candidates with this background. Prabowo is allegedly related to the riot on May 1998 while Wiranto with the Semanggi tragedy.

"It will make the democratic process recede. We will need two or three more periods to rebuild it," said economist Faisal Basri at a press conference yesterday. "Their candidacies will trigger authorization," he added.

Cultural observer, Goenawan Mohamad, suggested voters to consider a candidate who can unveil the Semanggi and Trisakti riots, the murder case over activist Munir, and one who is anti corruption. Suciwati, Munir's wife, said that she has not seen any candidates with a willingness to uncover human rights violations in the past.

Hanura's secretary general, Yus Usman Sumanegara, objected with a statement that Wiranto is related to human rights violations in the past. "That's a misleading campaign," Yus said.


Vote against 'human rights abusers'

The Jakarta Post , JAKARTA | Fri, 05/01/2009 10:14 AM | National

A coalition of civil society groups and human rights activists called on voters not to support candidates accused of committing human rights violations in the past.

Among the activists gathering at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) in Central Jakarta on Thursday were Suciwati, wife of the late human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, Sandyawan Sumardi, a humanitarian, Goenawan Mohamad, a noted columnist, Choirul Anam from Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) and Fikri Jufri, a senior journalist.

Maria Catarina Sumarsih, mother of Bernardinus Realino Norma Irawan, a student demonstrator shot dead in 1998, also attended.

"We gather here now to remind everybody to be aware of these human rights abusers, Wiranto and Prabowo Subianto, who have parties that will likely nominate them for the next president and vice president," Sumarsih, the winner of the 2004 Yap Thiam Hien Award, said.

Prabowo established the Great Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) as a vehicle to run for presidency while Wiranto founded the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) for the same purpose.

Officials from both Gerindra and Hanura quickly dismissed the activists' appeal, with Gerindra spokesman Haryanto Taslam telling The Jakarta Post that the comments were nothing more than slander.

"I would never cover up any past human rights violations committed by any member of our party. All of the cases they mentioned have been tried," he said.

Mahfud Siddik, one of the Hanura deputy chairmen, suggested the activists should learn the true meaning of human rights violations.

"If they understood the concept, they would know that Wiranto is not a human rights abuser," he said.

Sumarsih claimed that if either leader won they would damage democracy and revert Indonesia to a militaristic and authoritarian era of rule.

"We have collected evidence of Wiranto's and Prabowo's human rights violations in the past," she added.

The activists accused Prabowo, former chief of the Army Special Force Command (Kopassus), of the kidnapping and murder of anti-Soeharto activists during the turmoil of 1998.

His deputy, Muchdi Purwoprandjono, former deputy-chairman of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), was put on trial for the murder of human rights campaigner Munir, but was declared innocent last January.

Meanwhile, Wiranto, as the supreme military commander from 1998 to 1999, was accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor (now Timor Leste).

He was also in command during the 1998 May Riot, in which thousands of men and women died on the streets of Jakarta.

However, neither Wiranto nor Prabowo have ever faced trial.

"We will definitely not vote for human rights abusers like Wiranto and Prabowo, whom we believe are guilty of murder and kidnapping. What they have done has hurt us greatly," Suciwati said.

Economist Faisal Basri said that if Wiranto or Prabowo led the country, it would damage not only democracy and human rights, but also the economy.

"I have convincing information that they don't pay their taxes properly. If they don't fulfil their state obligations, how can they lead this country?" he said. (bbs)

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