Subject: Election News: Candidate Prabowo, a violator of human rights,now declares his c

Abridged in translation with background information added by TAPOL

SINDO, 3 June 2009

A proposal by Komnas HAM, the National Human Rights Commissi, for presidential candidates to take part in a debate about human rights has been responded to by Megawati's team mate Prabowo, who is now chair of a party, Gerindra, set up a year ago. He declared that this was indeed a national problem and all candidates must be fully committed to upholding human right

He declared that he was committed to upholding human rights. And with regard to past charges against him for violating human rights, he said that the people would be able to assess this.

To put his commitment to human rights into context, here is a report by AFP in February this year about his actions in East Timor and in the final days of the Suharto regime and his recent description of the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists many of whom disappeared, as 'preventative detention'.

While his abysmal record on human rights has led the US to bar him from entering the country, in Indonesia he is able to stand as a candidate for the second highest political position in the Republic. Megawati who has taken him on as her team mate is either oblivious of his appalling cord or she simply does care and hopes his recent conversion to solving economic problems and ingratiating himself with impoverished peasants will win her thousands of extra votes.

Indonesia President Hopeful Unrepentant on Rights Abuse

JAKARTA, Feb. 21 (AFP) - A former son-in-law of Indonesian dictator Suharto running for president said Friday his "conscience is clear" over human rights abuses he committed as a senior army general.

Prabowo Subianto, a former commander of the notorious Kopassus special forces, told foreign reporters he was unrepentant over the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists in the dying days of Suharto's regime.

"In a certain administration we could say it was preventative detention, and if the regime changes, then we say it's kidnapping," said Prabowo, who is running in a July poll against opponents including incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, also an ex-general.

"I served with honour, my conscience is clear, I took responsibility. I consider myself a warrior, I consider myself an officer," he said.

Prabowo, once considered heir apparent to Suharto before the 1998 fall of his 32-year regime, was found guilty by a court of honour of "exceeding orders" and forced to retire over his confessed role in the kidnappings, over a dozen victims of which were never seen again.

He also stands accused of involvement in human rights abuses in East Timor, then under a brutal 24-year Indonesian occupation, and of orchestrating riots and mass rapes of Chinese women in Jakarta in 1998.

Prabowo has denied these accusations but said he remains barred from travelling to the United States since first being refused entry on human rights grounds in 2000.

Despite this chequered reputation, Prabowo said he is a committed democrat and is pinning his hopes of unseating the liberal Yudhoyono on a platform of reining in the free market and overcoming poverty by promoting agriculture.

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