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Army Chief of Staff: No armed forces member died in Pontianak riot

Kompas Online - February 15, 1997

Jakarta – Army Chief of Staff General R Hartono said that the security stability situation and condition in West Kalimantan, up to last week has been amenable to control. Although victims had fallen and considerable material loss suffered, there had been no loss of life of Armed Forces members.

"Of the Armed Forces personnel on duty there, only two members are listed as slightly wounded, while one member was seriously wounded by an attack with a local traditional weapon," said the Army Chief of Staff, responding to journalists after a goodwill meeting of the Armed Forces Commander with the entire array of senior officers of the Armed Forces Headquarters on Friday (14/2) in Jakarta.

The Army Chief of Staff said that until this moment the security forces have succeeded in confiscating hundreds of local traditional weapons used in the riots and other acts of violence.

"The Armed Forces continue their efforts to approach all parties in dispute over there. We hope that shortly these efforts will bear fruit, so a harmonious situation can again be created in West Kalimantan," he said.

He added, "The heartening thing is that until this moment the people in West Kalimantan are voluntarily surrendering the weapons they own to our agents."

Responding to questions by the journalists whether the security forces had also found a number of persons considered responsible as the instigators of the riots, the Army Chief of Staff said that his side had not yet found indications pointing that way. "I am not saying that there are instigators. But up to this moment we have not yet found any indications that way," he said.

Peace charter

The Chairman of the National Committee for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Munawir Sjadzali, who was sided by Secretary General Baharuddin Lopa, AA Baramuli and Clementino Dos Reis Amaral, based on agreement reached at the Komnas HAM coordination meeting last Thursday evening (13/2), according to plan will depart for Pontianak and witness the agreement, in the form of a mutual peace charter between the quarreling parties in the Sanggau Ledo Riot in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.

Asmara Nababan, one member of the Komnas HAM Fact-finding Team for the Sanggau Ledo Riot, disclosed this on Friday.

Separately, Komnas HAM Secretary General Baharuddin Lopa confirmed that the visit to Pontianak was to witness the Sanggau Ledo peace charter. "Departure for Pontianak is right but not this Saturday (15/2). Because last night (Thursday, 13/2 - Ed.), the commander of the VIth/Tanjungpura Military Region, Maj.Gen. Namuri Anoem send a message that the draft of the peace charter was not yet ready and still being improved," he disclosed.

According to Lopa, the Tanjungpura military commander in his talk further promised to the Komnas HAM that his side would quickly inform when the charter in question was ready for signing.

For the time being Lopa was of the opinion that the Komnas HAM perceived that differences in culture and lifestyle between the local community and newcomers, could be a point of reference for the Komnas HAM to study further the various riots which have taken place in the country.

To prevent similar riots, Lopa reminded the need for continual communication between community members and the respective traditional customs notables in perceiving various issues arising in the midst of the community. (*)