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Reports on rape of Chinese need evidence

Antara - July 31, 1998

Jakarta - Reports on the rape of Chinese Indonesian women during the widespread rioting last May have been baffling the people as these reports lack proof, an observer here has said.

Without evidence, these reports will only reflect systematic efforts by certain quarters to discredit the Indonesian government and people, Eddy Noor said Wednesday. They could also mean vengeance for losses suffered by the people as a result of the riots, he added. Noor said he is thus urging the government to gather proof from the people, including non-governmental organizations (NGO), in response to demands for a probe on the alleged rapes.

Reports on the rape of many Chinese Indonesian women at the height of the May 13-14 riots emerged several weeks after the incident that led to the downfall of former president Soeharto. The rapes reportedly occurred as rioters damaged, burned and looted buildings, including banks, offices, department stores and traditional markets.

Noor warned that the reports on the rapes could not be completely true and that they could be used by certain parties who could exaggerate them. "It could be a setup by parties who want to take revenge as a result of the riots. These parties could be using the mass media to achieve their mission and disrepute the government and the nation," he said, stressing that the reports have not been supported by credible evidences.

Legislator, Lukman Harun (Golkar), shared Noor's opinion, saying that the Indonesian and foreign press could have been trapped into exaggerating issues on the May riots to discredit the country in the international community. "If a rape case really exists and evidence shows it, the case must obviously be handled and people who committed the rape must be punished. But we cannot ignore the need to get evidence. We need evidence to prove (the rapes)," Lukman said.

Both Noor and Lukman said the reports sounded exaggerated to them as the rapes reportedly occurred on streets, in taxis and stores. "In fact, at the time when the riots were happening, people were uproarious and were crowding everywhere. So how could a person have an urge for sex?" he said.