Subject: UN Rapp on Violence Against Women - Report on Indon and ET (Pt.3)
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 12:31:38 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Sharon R.A. Scharfe" <>

... continued from Part 2 ...



E/CN.4/1999/68/Add.3 21 January 1999

Original: ENGLISH

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS Fifty-fifth session Item 12 (a) of the provisional agenda


Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy

PART 3 ...


62. The ethnic Chinese make up 2.8 per cent of the Indonesian population and number around 6 million. / Leo Suryadinata, The Culture of the Chinese Minority in Indonesia, Times Books International, Singapore, 1997./ They are predominantly urban dwellers and, by all accounts, have, as a community, made a significant contribution to the Indonesian economy. The perception among average non-Chinese Indonesians is that the Chinese control the economy in collaboration with Indonesian power elites. Although the Special Rapporteur was repeatedly told that the Chinese were rich and wealthy, many of the victims she met, who had been raped during the May riots, appeared to be from lower-middle-class backgrounds. Some were single women living alone, striving to make ends meet. It appeared that the victims were in fact poor, ordinary women who had very little "control of the economy".

63. Since 1967, the Government of Indonesia has pursued a policy of assimilation with regard to the ethnic Chinese minority. It is important to highlight the framework within which the May riots took place (an issue the Special Rapporteur on racial discrimination will address in greater depth in his report (E/CN.4/1999/15)). The assimilation policy has been contained in government guidelines since 1967. Chinese Indonesians have been asked to change their names to Indonesian ones. Their language schools have been closed and replaced by schools, where Chinese is taught as an extracurricular language. The use of Chinese characters in public has been discouraged and Chinese festivals and rituals are to be celebrated only in the privacy of the home. Chinese Indonesians carry identity cards with special markings to show that they are of Chinese origin / On 16 September 1998, President Habibie issued a presidential decree requiring equal treatment for all Indonesians and banning the use of the words "pribumi" and "non-pribumi" in all welfare formulations, organizations and programmes, and in the implementation of government coordinated activities. "Pribumi", which means "indigenous" or "native" in the Bahasa Indonesia language is normally understood to exclude persons of Chinese descent. A further welcome development is the recent decision by the Ministry of Home Affairs to stop using special codes on identity cards for Chinese Indonesians./ and Chinese businessmen are encouraged to find "indigenous" Indonesian business partners. However, the Chinese are free to practise the religion of their choice, and many of them are Christians or Buddhists.

64. There are two categories of Chinese in Indonesia. The first, called "Peranakans", are locally born Chinese who have intermarried with Indonesians and speak Bahasa Indonesia. Some of them have become Muslims. The second category are called "Totoks". They are recent migrants who continue to speak Chinese and are more involved in education and business. Both categories of Chinese were targeted during the May 1998 riots.

65. With regard to the May 1998 riots, the Special Rapporteur spoke with victims, witnesses, members of the Chinese community, human rights defenders and NGOs. She also spoke with government officials and representatives of the military and the police. The following conclusions are based on these interviews.

66. On 12 May 1998, four university students were shot dead at Trishakti University during a demonstration. By 14 May, thousands of establishments had burnt to the ground. According to the Volunteers for Humanitarian Causes, 1,190 people were dead in Jakarta and 168 women had been gang raped. According to the police, only 451 people died and there were no cases of gang rape. The Joint Fact-Finding Team (TGPF) was able to interview 85 victims of sexual violence, of whom 52 were victims of rape.

67. The riots followed a pattern. Initially there were rumours threatening violence. Then a group of strangers, described as heavily built and in army boots and armed with crowbars, inflammable liquids and Molotov cocktails would come to a locality in jeeps and on motorcycles. They would incite the populace to riot, assisting them to break into buildings and loot the premises. They would also assist in arson. After some time, they would withdraw. Although both Chinese and non-Chinese died in the arson, the target of the riots was Chinese establishments. With regard to the cases of rape, again it was the Chinese who were the targets. Rape occurred in west and north Jakarta, where there was a concentration of Chinese.

68. The TGPF could not conclude that the riots were systematically planned and instigated, but asked for further investigations, mentioning by name Lt.-Gen. Prabowo, the son-in-law of former President Soeharto, and Major-General Syafrie Syamsoeddin, the chief of army operations in Jakarta. According to witnesses, the perpetrators of the crimes committed were local criminals, some of whom have confessed that they were paid to riot. The witnesses also felt that individuals from the Indonesian army and from some political organizations also took part in the rioting. It is absolutely essential that the perpetrators be brought to trial after proper investigations so that such events do not occur in the future.

69. The Special Rapporteur was shown a video of the riots. She was appalled to see members of the armed forces wearing red berets stand by and watch as the looting and rioting continued. At one time they shared looted drinks with the miscreants, joking and laughing during the chaos. One victim described to the Special Rapporteur how she ran out of her house and asked a soldier to help her family. He just turned away. She watched her sisters suffer sexual violence, her brother killed and her house burn to the ground. This type of lawlessness gives impunity to criminal actors and allows for large-scale violations of human rights. All States have a due diligence duty to prevent, prosecute and punish private actors involved in violating the rights of others.

70. The Special Rapporteur asked members of the security forces why they had allowed such lawlessness to prevail. They argued that, after the shooting of the students, they had not wanted any more civilian casualties, so the soldiers had been reluctant to intervene. The inability of the security forces of Indonesia to distinguish between the exercise of the right to free speech and lawful assembly by the students and pure criminal activity by gangs of thugs and looters is extremely worrying and points to the need for intensive human rights training of the Indonesian security forces.

71. Throughout the Special Rapporteur's stay, government officials, as well as individual civilians, inquired whether the so-called mass rapes actually took place since no one was reporting the cases to the police. The Special Rapporteur is firmly convinced that there was mass rape, more often gang rape. It took place in homes, in public places and in workplaces. Although she cannot provide a definite number, the pattern of violence that was described by victims, witnesses and human rights defenders clearly indicated that such rape was widespread.

72. None of the victims with whom the Special Rapporteur spoke had reported their cases to the police. The reasons for this were manifold. Firstly, they had received death threats and anonymous letters warning them not to report the cases. Secondly, they had no confidence in the criminal justice system and were convinced that the police would not do anything to bring the miscreants to trial. Finally, they were afraid that the publicity would result in their being ostracized in their community, where rape carries with it a stigma that is hard to erase. The lack of confidence of the victims in the criminal justice system strikes at the heart of the integrity of the institutions that defend the rule of law. It is important that these institutions regain the confidence of this important element of Indonesian society.

73. The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned about the proliferation of death threats and anonymous letters after the May 1988 riots. These threats and letters have been targeted at victims, the families of the victims, doctors and human rights defenders. In the case of human rights defenders, the threat is directed against their children. The threats are delivered by telephone and by letter. In the case of rape victims, photographs of the rape are sent warning the victim that if she speaks the photographs will be circulated widely. This private thuggery has to be confronted and eliminated. The rule of law must prevail if the criminal justice system in Indonesia is to give relief to victims. There is a need for an effective witness protection scheme so that victims and witnesses come forward. In addition, the State must confront this phenomenon of thuggery at the highest levels. These kinds of threats should be outlawed and the police should take a proactive role in bringing the perpetrators to trial. Such a campaign should be endorsed at the highest level. Otherwise the legitimate process of politics and governance will always be subverted by shadowy forces who rule civil society through the use of terror.

74. Some of the officials the Special Rapporteur met were dismissive about these letters, regarding them as pranks by individuals. However, the death of Ita Martadinata Haryono has struck terror into the hearts of those who have received such letters. Ms. Haryono, a 17-year old ethnic Chinese woman, was brutally murdered in her home in Jakarta. Ms. Haryono and her mother were active members of the Volunteers for Humanitarian Causes; they had constantly received death threats and anonymous letters. Suddenly, Ms. Haryono was brutally murdered in her own home. The police claim that the murder was an attempted burglary by a neighbour who was a good friend of Ms. Haryono. The human rights community is convinced that she was murdered to silence those involved in human rights work. The two sides presented us with their evidence. Whatever the truth of this matter, the fact that Ms. Haryono and her family were recipients of death threats and anonymous letters casts a cloud over the case. Without understanding the context of the case, the police appear to have become combative, further alienating human rights defenders from the criminal justice system.


75. East Timor, Irian Jaya and Aceh all have Military Operation Area or Daerah Operasi Militer (DOM) status which limits access by outside observers, who are required to obtain a permit (surat jalan) either through the Director-General of the Social and Political Affairs Department or the region's military commander. Once in the area, visitors must report to military checkpoints in the villages they visit. In further restricted "Red Zone" areas, local people are required to carry passes, obtained from the village head or from the local military commander, in order to go in and out of villages, including to hunt and garden. / Munir, Coordinator, Kontras, "Military operation area (DOM) within the Framework of the Politics of Violence", October 1998./ The inaccessibility of East Timor, Aceh and Irian Jaya has allowed human rights abuses to go unreported and perpetrators to act with impunity. The Special Rapporteur requests the Government to allow human rights monitors full and unrestricted access to military operation areas in order to monitor and report on the human rights situation in inaccessible areas where people are most at risk.

76. The resignation of President Soeharto was seen by many East Timorese as a turning point, creating the possibility of a solution for East Timor and the end to years of human rights abuses. On 5 August 1998, the United Nations brokered an agreement between Indonesia and Portugal, in which both sides committed themselves to working towards an agreement on "wide-ranging autonomy". Indonesia agreed to drop its insistence that a precondition of negotiations must be acceptance of Indonesian sovereignty, although it continued to reject the idea of a referendum on independence. / Human Rights Watch Report 1999./

77. Although there is now greater freedom in East Timor, and gestures of good will have been offered by President Habibie, the serious and systematic abuses that prevailed in the territory continue to create a climate of distrust and suspicion. Women are particularly vulnerable to gender-specific human rights violations, including rape and sexual harassment. Rape is often unreported because of fear of retaliation.

78. Before May 1998, rape was used by the military as a method of torture and intimidation against the local population. Relatives of political opponents were raped by the military as a form of revenge or to force their relatives out of hiding.

79. In East Timor, "almost everyday there are persons who force their way into houses of the population and rape the women, it is these accursed actions which sow hatred and traumatize the East Timorese". / Bishop Belo, De TAK Magazine, 16 July 1998./

80. Rape continues even after the fall of Soeharto, but the Regional Army Commander assured the Special Rapporteur that he would not tolerate violence against women by the armed forces. It is still too early to ascertain whether he will implement his assurances.

81. While the Special Rapporteur was in Dili, East Timor, she was able to meet with victims of gender-specific violence, the majority of whom had allegedly been targeted because of their assumed relationship with the resistance movement. Furthermore, rape was used as a form of intimidation and torture against the female community when the military could not find male family members. Meetings with victims were arranged through Women's Forum, a non-governmental organization established on 5 July 1998, which provides a place for victims of violence to receive counselling and support. The events in most of these cases occurred before May 1998. The Special Rapporteur cannot reproduce all the testimonies for lack of space; however, the following few testimonies give a sense of the violations that took place.

82. On 10 June 1980, X was arrested during a meeting in the village office. She was held at a military post for an hour and then taken to a former boarding house of the military (now a maternity clinic). She was interrogated and tortured all night: beaten, burned with cigarettes and given electric shocks in her ears. When questioned about her friend Beatrice, she told her interrogators that she knew nothing. She was stripped naked and told to walk around outside, then they put her in a water tank and pushed her (with their boots) under the water numerous times. They taunted her that perhaps she could find her friend at the bottom of the tank. When she could not support the torture any longer, she told them where they could find Beatrice. They told her to put on her clothes and go with them to Beatrice's house. They surrounded the house and told her to knock on the door and ask for her friend. They arrested Beatrice and took both of them to the command post, where she and Beatrice were stripped and tortured in the ways described above. X was then raped by Captain Jambrot; she was only 16 years old. Marilina (another inmate) was also raped. Another inmate was stripped and told to get in the water tank. / Case interview, Jakarta, November 1998./

83. The Special Rapporteur heard testimonies from women in regard to the Craras village massacre, which occurred in the 1980s. All the men of the village above the age of 12 had reportedly been killed by the Indonesian military. The massacre was allegedly in retaliation for the killing of one soldier by the guerrillas. The residents of the village had been moved to another village, Kampung Janda, commonly known as "widows' village".

84. M (36 years old) from Viqueque was arrested, interrogated and raped in the 1980s whenever there was a clash between the military and the guerrillas, because her relatives were involved in the resistance movement. She testified that in 1981 she was raped on many occasions. In 1982, M and her family were exiled to Atauro island. For a whole year they were fed only with rotten corn; many people suffered from malnutrition, including her father, who died as a result. The family spent five years, from 1982 to 1987, on Atauro island. Finally, the ICRC came to the island and ensured that they were given proper food, and for that reason she survived. / Case interview, Dili, December 1998./

85. B (32 years old) from Craras, Viqueque was told, after her husband disappeared, that if she wanted to see him again she would have to serve 100 soldiers at Pos Lalarek Mutin military post. For three months, she had to obey all orders and accede to all the needs of the post during the day and was raped at night. When she went to look for wood in the forest she was accused of meeting with the guerrillas and she was raped in front of her family as punishment. She continued to search for her husband, until finally she received news that he had been killed. As a result of the rape she has a seven-year old daughter. B is afraid to go to the authorities and file a complaint out of fear of retaliation against her and her family. / Case interview, Dili, December 1998./

86. D (38 years old) from Viqueque was arrested and raped on many occasions during the period 1975-1991. She was forced to serve different soldiers who were stationed near her village. She has five children, all of them allegedly the result of rape by soldiers. Reportedly, those who fathered her children were officers in the Military District Command KODIN and the Nanggala Kopassus Unit. Her church has helped her to support her children but she wants Indonesia to take responsibility for her and the children. / Case interview, Dili, December 1998./

87. The following cases are alleged to have taken place after May 1998.

88. It is reported that at 11 a.m. on 1 May 1998 Ms. Rosita Gomes Pereira was raped in her home in the hamlet of Darnei in the village of Poetete, Ermera district, by members of the Indonesian military. It is reported that the perpetrators were from the Lulirema military post, located in the village of Coliate in Hatolia, Ermera district. A report of the incident was made to the ICRC and the local Catholic Church.

89. It is reported that on 6 May 1998 Ms. Filomena da Costa (24) was raped by a member of the Special Intelligence Unit at night while in detention at the Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) headquarters, Baucau, Rumah Merah.

90. On 27 May 1998 Ms. Jacinta Soares (16) was allegedly raped by Sergeant II Restu, the local Babinsa, military head, of Laline village, RT I/RK IV, Lacluta sub-district. It is reported that the perpetrator had targeted another woman who had been a sex slave but, because she was pregnant, Restu asked her to find another woman. The pregnant woman contacted her cousin, Jacinta and invited her to come to the house for a meal. When she arrived she was taken to a room where she was raped by Restu, despite her protests. / Case interview, Dili, December 1998./

91. On 24 September 1998, Ms. Anastacia de Assuncao (21) from the village of Assalimo in Los Palos, was allegedly raped and killed by a member of a paramilitary unit, Team ALPA, linked to Kopassus. She is believed to have been taken into custody by a member of the armed forces and her body was found later by the side of the road. Her brother is suspected by the armed forces of being involved with the armed resistance movement, the National Army for the Liberation of East Timor (FALINTIL).

92. The Special Rapporteur had a very fruitful meeting with Colonel Tono Suratman, the Territory's Regional Commander. She was impressed with his desire to break with the past and to have intensive human rights training for his troops. During the meeting he agreed to declare publicly that violence against women would not be tolerated within the military, and perpetrators would be severely punished. He released a statement to this effect the day after he met with the Special Rapporteur. It was carried as headlines in all the East Timor newspapers. Furthermore, he agreed to raise the possibility of setting up a compensation fund for rape victims, and children born of rape, with his superiors in Jakarta. The Special Rapporteur mentioned the large number of widows in East Timor and requested that they be provided with the same service as that provided under the Minister for Social Affairs widows' programme in Aceh. The Special Rapporteur also asked the Colonel to investigate the cases, referred to above, which had been brought to her attention.

... Continued in Part 4 ...

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