|Subject: 3-day action in Jakarta counters
public sympathy for Suharto
========= I N D O L E F T - News service > > ======
Three day action in Jakarta counters public sympathy for Suharto
Kompas - February 12, 2008
Jakarta -- Hundreds of activists from Jakarta and 13 other provinces across Indonesia camped overnight at the Proclamation Monument in Central Jakarta on Monday February 11. The action will continue until Wednesday and is being held to pressure the government to resolve cases of human rights violation that are believed to involve the late former President Suharto.
To support the action, around 40 tents were setup along with hundreds of wooden "tombstones" with the names of the human rights victims during the period of Suharto's New Order regime. A stage named the People's Testimonial Stage was also setup alongside the statues of Indonesia's founding President Sukarno and Vice President Mohammad Hatta, who declared Indonesia independence in 1945.
Jimmy Matitaputty from the committee coordinating the event said that on Tuesday 10 groups of human rights victims would use the stage give testimonies on human rights violations. They include victims from the September 30 1965 affair to incidents that occurred in the lead up to Suharto's resignation in 1998.
"We are holding this action to counter the strength of opinion [in support of] forgiving Suharto. The public must realise that forgiving Suharto will save his cronies. Whereas, many of the problems occurring at the moment are partly a consequence of their actions when they were in power. The government's choices at the moment are very minimal because we are trapped in debt incurred during the New Order period. Our national wealth is also starting to disappear because it was depleted by the New Order", said Jimmy.
After the action ends on Wednesday continued Jimmy, representatives from the 13 provinces that attended the event plan to hold similar actions in their respective regions. The provinces represented include Aceh, North Sumatra, South Sumatra, Banten, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, Bali, East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan and South Sulawesi.
Sahlan, a victim of the attack on the Indonesian Democratic Party headquarters in Jakarta on July 26, 1996 said he would use the People's Testimonial Stage to give a detailed testimony about the attack. "The incident still upsets me to this day. There are a number of friends whose fate is still unknown", he said. As a result of the attack, he was sentenced to four months and three days in jail.
Speaking separately, Rafendi Djamin from the Human Rights Working Group said that Suharto's death disqualifies the various accusations of human rights violations that have been made against him. This however is not the case for his cronies who are also suspected of being involved.
"As was experienced by Yunus Yosfiah in Australia as a result of the Balibo Five case in East Timor in the early 1970s could also befall other former New Order officials. So, although no charges [have been laid] by domestic courts, those who are suspected of being involved in human rights violations will still have to be careful overseas," he said. (nwo)
[Translated by James Balowski.]
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