Subject: Families of 1997-98 Missing Students and Activists Increase Pressure on Yudhoyono to Form Ad-Hoc Tribunal

The Jakarta Globe February 19, 2010

Action Urged on 1997-98 Missing Students Case

by Markus Junianto Sihaloho

photo: Family members of missing persons attending a plenary meeting at the House of Representatives last year. JG/Yudhi Sukma Wijaya

The families of students and activists who disappeared during the 1997-98 political unrest stepped up pressure on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday to form an ad-hoc tribunal to hear the cases.

They said that the formation of the tribunal had been suggested last year on recommendations by the House of Representatives.

Mugiyanto, chairman of the Indonesian Association of Families of the Disappeared (Ikohi), speaking at a press conference in Jakarta, criticized president Yudhoyono for failure to act on the proposal.

He said that the September 2009 recommendations contained four points that the government should have followed up on, but so far none of them had been carried out.

"Until now the government has done nothing," Mugiyanto said. "At least, please establish the ad hoc tribunal."

Besides pushing for the establishment of an ad hoc court to hear cases related to the disappearances, the House also directed the government to order state officials to continue the search for the missing students, to compensate their families and to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons From Enforced Disappearance.

Mugiyanto said that the House's proposal was the only option remaining to the families of the missing activists in their search for justice and effort to determine the true fate of their loved ones.

Suyandi, whose brother Suyat went missing during the volatile period, said, "we have a weapon and it is the only one: the House's recommendation."

He said Yudhoyono or whoever else might in the future hold the presidency could not shirk the responsibility to resolve the cases.

"We will always keep pressure on the government to discover the fate of our family members who are still missing. It is the responsibility of the state, the president's responsibility," Suyandi said.

During the troubled last years of the long rule of former President Suharto, at least 22 pro-democracy activists disappeared. Nine of them resurfaced with harrowing accounts of torture at the hands of the military, but 13 still remain missing.

Military spokesman Air Vice Marshal Sagom Tamboen, responding to the House recommendation, had already said that the Armed Forces would wait for direction from the president and would abide by his decision.

Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha could not be immediately reached for comment on the case, and text messages sent to his mobile phone were unanswered.

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