Subject: Activists' Families Warn Major Parties of Mixing With Rights
The Jakarta Globe
Friday, April 24, 2009
Activists' Families Warn Major Parties of Mixing With Rights Violators
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Families of activists missing since 1997 have called on candidates hoping to run in the July presidential election to avoid cooperating with parties led by individuals linked to past human rights violations.
Sipon, the wife of Wiji Thukul, a poet who has been missing since antigovernment protests in 1997, said at a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday that some political parties had demonstrated their intentions to resolve all past human rights violations.
We have seen that during the 2004-2009 parliamentary period, parties like the PDI-P and PAN have supported our cause," Sipon said, referring to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and the National Mandate Party, respectively.
PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri, who has publicly announced her plan to run in the July 8 presidential election, has been holding meetings with Wiranto and Prabowo Subianto, both former military generals, about a possible coalition. Both Wiranto, who was a military chief when the antigovernment protests started, and Prabowo, former commander of the Army's feared Special Forces, or Kopassus, have also held talks with PAN.
Thursday's press conference was also attended by Tuti Koto, the mother of Yani Afri, who has been missing since 1997; Sumarsih, the mother of missing student Wawan; Suciwati, the widow of prominent human rights campaigner Munir Saib Thalib, who died of arsenic poisoning on a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam in 2004; and Maria da Silva, a victim of human rights violations in East Timor.
Sipon said the families were worried about PDI-P's political motives, including the meetings with Wiranto and Prabowo. Wiranto is chairman of the People's Conscience Party, or Hanura, and Prabowo is chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra.
It is a fact that Prabowo and Wiranto have been linked to past human rights violations, particularly to the kidnapping of student activists and pro-democracy activists in 1997 and 1998, and human rights violations in East Timor," Sipon said.
They also criticized President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, which has held coalition talks with the Nation Functional Party, or PKPB, headed by former Army chief Hartono.
When all the coalitions are brought to the parliament, it means all efforts to settle past human rights cases are back to square one," Sipon said.
Reacting to the appeal, Tjahjo Kumolo, a member of PDI-P's central board, said on Thursday that despite its political ties with Gerindra and Hanura, his party was committed to supporting the victims of past human rights violations.
Tjahjo said that everyone, including the families of the victims, should separate legal cases from the political motives of parties.
However, he also said that none of the former generals has been found guilty of human rights violations by a court of law.
So when such figures come to your house, as a host, how can you reject them?" Tjahjo asked, defending Megawati's meetings with Prabowo and Wiranto at her house.
Asked if the PDI-P would consider such political figures as potential vice presidential candidates in the July election, Tjahjo said it would be decided at the party's special national meeting scheduled for Saturday.