Yudhoyono Urged to Set Up 1998 Human Rights Tribunal

Yudhoyono Urged to Set Up 1998 Human Rights Tribunal

Jakarta. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been asked to set up an ad hoc human rights court related to alleged rights violations, missing persons and abductions of activists.

A presidential advisory board member said setting up the court was necessary to resolving the cases.

“I promise that in line with my expertise, I will give it consideration and will report it [in my advice] to the president,” said Albert Hasibuan, a member of the presidential advisory board.

Albert’s statements were made following a visit by members of the Movement Against Forgetting (GML) that urged the Yudhoyono to set up the ad hoc court.

GML is comprised of several non-governmental organizations including the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Indonesia Corruption Watch and the Setara Institute.

“If we have to meet with the president first, it’s likely that he will never receive us until his term in office is over. That’s why, through Mr. Albert, we urge the president to set up the court,” said Hendardi, Setara Institute coordinator.

Hendardi said that the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) reported that most of the activists who were abducted in 1998 and were later released claimed to have seen some of the activists reported missing today, at Indonesian Army’s Special Forces — commonly known as Kopassus — headquarters in Cijantung, East Jakarta.

The founder, chief patron and presidential candidate of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) Prabowo Subianto was the head of Kopassus at the time .

“We urge President SBY to immediately solve the abduction case that has been put on hold for 15 years. The efforts to find the 13 missing activists is one of the most important things, especially for the victims’ families,” he added.

Albert said the abduction of activists, the Semanggi 1 and 2 cases, had to be solved and that he hoped the president could resolve the issue prior to the expiration of his term in October.

Activists have said Prabowo Subianto was one of the military officials responsible for the abductions.

Former Army Strategic Reserve Command chief of staff Kivlan Zein recently claimed to know the whereabouts of the 13 missing activists, saying he knew where they were executed and dumped.

Hendardi said that his raising of the issue was not related to the presidential election and that it was not meant to cast a shadow on Prabowo’s presidential aspirations.

“Hopefully, some light will be shed on this issue before Oct. 20,” Albert said. “Kivlan Zein’s statement can end this burden.”

Meanwhile, Gerindra has denied Prabowo’s involvement in the abduction, adding that the human rights issue was often used to discredit the party founder.

Gerindra politician Yudi Syamhudi Suyuti said it was clear the human rights issue was being used to attack Prabowo ahead of the July election.

“Most of those activists are my friends. We are in an election year and some of the activists are members of political parties,” Yudi said in a press release on Monday. “The human rights cases have been settled and Prabowo was not involved in them. A ruling has been issued.”

He called on the public to respect human rights and not to drag the issue into the presidential election.

“Gerindra has great regard for human rights, [and its members] include champions who continue to fight for humanity,” he said.

Yudi said the most important agenda right now is to overcome poverty so development can reach all levels of society.

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