Subject: SBY Fails to Protect Human Rights, Indonesia Activists Say

The Jakarta Globe December 11, 2009

SBY Fails to Protect Human Rights, Indonesia Activists Say

by Camelia Pasandaran

Thousands of human rights activists converged in Central Jakarta and the State Palace on Thursday to mark International Human Rights Day and lambasted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for what they said was his failure to address past and continuing human rights abuses.

Suciwati Munir, the wife of murdered human rights campaigner Munir Said Thalib, told the Jakarta Globe that the government could not claim that the protection of human rights had improved while past violators remained free, and in some cases have become some of the nation’s most powerful political figures.

Muchdi Purwoprandjono, a former deputy at the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), was controversially acquitted of orchestrating Munir’s murder to avenge his ousting from the top post of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) in 1998.

It was alleged that Muchdi believed Munir’s criticisms of the kidnapping of students and activists by the elite Kopassus unit had cost him his career.

Yudhoyono has promised that Munir’s killers will be brought to justice, telling Suciwati the case will be “the test of our history.”

Speaking on Thursday, Suciwati said human rights were violated as much today as they were under former dictator Suharto.

Human rights enforcement is not something to only dream about there should be real implementation,” she said.

Muchdi is now the deputy chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), which is headed by Prabowo Subianto, a former son-in-law of Suharto who was also dismissed from the military after men under his command were found guilty of kidnapping pro-democracy activists during the 1997-98 unrest.

Thirteen activists from that period are still missing and feared murdered. One body has been recovered.

Yudhoyono was the head of the military’s influential Social and Political Affairs Unit at the time of the violence.

Prabowo is also accused, along with Gen. (ret.) Wiranto, chairman of the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), of human rights violations during Indonesia’s withdrawal from East Timor in 1999.

Both ran as vice presidential candidates in July’s presidential elections.

Ridha Saleh, a member of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said human rights abuses had increased in the past year, and the government had failed to act.

In 2008, we received 4,482 reports. In 2009, the number increased to 4,900 reports,” he said. “Most of the cases are related to unfair law enforcement, in which some people have been abused by police or other law enforcers.”

The majority of cases never make it to the courtroom, he added.

We have reported many human rights violations to law enforcers, but no real action has been taken,” he said. “This is mainly because the government has never been serious about protecting human rights.”

Usman Hamid, coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), urged the president to issue a decree to establish an ad hoc tribunal in connection with the disappearance of 1997-98 pro-democracy activists.

During a plenary session in September, the outgoing House recommended that the president form a human rights court to bring the abduction cases to trial.


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