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Megawati supporters demonstrate

SiaR - July 29, 1998

Jakarta - The July 27 incident is already two years past, but the Minister of Home Affairs, Syarwan Hamid, continues to be asked to take responsibility for his involvement in engineering the overthrow of Megawati Sukarnoputri as chairperson of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). This afternoon on Wednesday, July 29, around one thousand Megawati sympathizers, coming together under the group called the Megawati Support Group (Kelompok Pendukung Megawati, KPM), demonstrated against Hamid at the Department of Home Affairs on Jalan Merdeka Utara, Central Jakarta.

Lead by Dr Ciptaning, KPM held an orderly action with number of posters and banners which criticised Hamid and supported Megawati's leadership. In their press statement, KPM asked for the July 27, 1996 incident be fully investigated and those responsible be questioned and tried. They also called on the present government to act immediately on the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) on the [July 27] tragedy.

"If the Habibie government does nothing it means that this government is an extension of Suharto, alias New Order Part Two. Mega's criticism is correct, that this reform is only skin deep", said one of the KPM members during their speech.

Demonstrators also criticised statements by the Minister of Political and Security Affairs, Faisal Tanjung and the former Minister of Home Affairs, Yogie S. Mamet, who they consider to have rewritten history. Last Monday (27/2), during the commemoration of two years since the July 27 tragedy, Tanjung told the press that Megawati herself knew she would loose [a leadership challenge] so she refused to attend the Medan Congress [which "elected" the government backed Suryadi as chairperson of the PDI - JB] in mid-June, 1996.

Mamet defamed [lit: blasphemed] a pro-Megawati PDI functionary, Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno as having "lost his mind" just because Soetardjo said that Mamet must also be held responsible for the tragedy which according to Komnas HAM, resulted in five deaths and 16 missing. "Try the Suharto, Tanjung, Mamet and Hamid quartet as the masterminds behind the July 27 tragedy", shouted the demonstrators.

Hamid's involvement in the engineering of Megawati's overthrow was especially transparent, furthermore the pro-Megawati PDI General Secretary, Alex Litaay, has said that Hamid repeatedly tried to persuade him to defect from the Megawati camp and join in the Suryadi camp in organising the Medan congress.

Chapter one of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute's annual report titled: "1996: A Year of Violence, a Portrait of Human Rights Violations in Indonesia", carries written documents – including correspondence – which clearly show involvement/intervention by the military in each district of each region in the form of intimidation of the chairs of pro-Megawati branchs in order to make them attend the Medan congress being organised by Suryadi. At that time, the head of the military's department of social and political affairs was Hamid and the armed forces commander was Tanjung.

[Translated by James Balowski. On July 31, the Jakarta Post reported that the Megawati faction will contest the elections next year under their old banner rather than establish a new party. At a press conference, PDI leader Roy B.B. Janis said he was confident Megawati would triumph if she was allowed to reach out to rural areas adding "I can say we have 40 to 50 million members and supporters nationwide".]