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Central Java PPP asks rights body to probe Pekalongan riot

Antara - March 29, 1997

Semarang – The Central Java provincial branch of the United Development Party (PPP) is asking the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to probe alleged human rights violations in Monday's riot in the Central Java town of Pekalongan.

"From the reports we have received there are a number of human rights violations including destruction of houses, violent acts locals and shooting of three locals," deputy secretary of the party's provincial branch Harminto Agustono said Friday.

If the reports were true, the rights body should step in, he said.

The party leadership hoped the Armed Forces to take immediate actions against state apparatuses who were found guilty of being involved in the human rights violations, he said. "We must view the Pekalongan incident from its root," he said.

Meanwhile, Komnas HAM Chairman Munawir Sjadzali said the rights body was ready to send an investigation team to the town at the affected people's request although the riot was believed to have been politically motivated.

"Komnas HAM continues to receive any complaint from the people about human rights violation, although it is politically motivated,"Munawir said Friday.

But he said Komnas HAM would not race with the authorities in handling the Pekalongan riot because it would perform duties based on complaint from the people.

"Komnas HAM has so far been active and not proactive in performing its duties. Unless there is complaint from the people, we will not step in," he said.

The riot erupted Monday after the organizers of the planned Golkar gathering had taken down the flags of the three political groupings, Golkar's yellow flags, PPP's green flags and the Indonesian Democratic Party's red flags.

Some people said the incident erupted as supporters were upset that their parties' colors were being taken down while Golkar's yellow stage was being erected.

Chief of the Diponegoro regional military command Maj. Gen.

Soebagyo said the securities agencies were searching for the masterminds of the Pekalongan riot.

He said the securities agencies would not tolerate anybody found guilty of being involved in the riot.

It was reported that 60 shops were destroyed or burnt down, and two cars and a BRI branch office were set ablaze.

A total of 31 people were detained until Friday as the town began to return to normal.