Lani Diana Wijaya, Jakarta – The government is being asked to ascertain the fate of the activists who disappeared after being abducted in 1998. The request came from the families of 13 activists who are still missing who met with Presidential Chief of Staff retired General Moeldoko at the Bina Graha building at the palace complex in Jakarta on Wednesday March 13.
Indonesian Association of Families of Missing Persons (IKOHI) representative and abduction victim Mugiyanto said that the families need certainty as to whether the missing activists are alive or dead.
"Moreover there has already been a recommendation from Komnas HAM [the National Human Rights Commission] and the DPR [House of Representatives to investigate this]", said Mugiyanto in a written press release on Wednesday evening.
Mugiyanto conveyed several other demands on behalf of the families of the victims who are asking that the government immediately issue an official document on the status of the missing activists.
The other demands are for compensation to be given to the families of the victims to cover their living costs, healthcare and education. The final request was that the government accelerates the ratification of the International Convention on Forced Disappearances. "Only one convention is left to be ratified", said Mugiyanto.
Moeldoko responded by pledging to forward the families' demands to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
Between 1997 and 1998 as many as 23 pro-democracy activists were abducted by members of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus). After extended periods of detention – in many cases the victims were severely tortured – most were released although 13 remain missing and are presumed dead. Former Kopassus commander Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto, who was dismissed from the military in 1998 over the abductions, has admitted to ordering the abductions but denies ordering their torture and claims they were all released alive and well. The issue resurfaced on March 11 after presidential advisor former Kopassus commander retired General Agum Gumelar claimed that he knows the fate of the missing activists and that Prabowo should be held accountable for the disappearances.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Keluarga Minta Pemerintah Pastikan Status Orang Hilang 1998".]