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Confusion reigns over missing activist

Agence France Presse - August 1, 1998

Jakarta – Mystery surrounds a missing student activist who apparently turned up alive and well in the southern Philippines, with officials and his family saying he may not be the man they are looking for.

The Indonesian military in Jakarta and consulate in the Philippine city of Davao said an Indonesian activist earlier reported as missing was being sheltered in the consulate. A consulate staffer said an activist identified as Herman Hendrawan was staying there. "But he's not here right now. Maybe he's downtown," he said.

Indonesian military spokesman Major General Syamsul Maarif said Mr Hendrawan had reported to the consulate in Davao on Monday. He said Mr Hendrawan had told a consular official that he had been in Davao for two months "to calm himself".

The Indonesian Legal Institute in Jakarta was trying to confirm the report with the consulate in Davao but failed to establish whether the man was the missing Mr Hendrawan they have been trying to locate.

Munir, deputy chairman of the Legal Institute's Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said he had spoken to the Davao Hendrawan on the phone yesterday but the person, although he had the same name, admitted that he was a "different Herman Hendrawan". "I am a kidnap victim but not the one you're looking for," Mr Munir quoted Mr Hendrawan as saying. "Please don't bother me." Mr Munir said the Mr Hendrawan in Davao claimed he was a Siliwangi University student from West Java, while the missing Mr Hendrawan on the commission's list was a student from East Java's Airlangga University.

The still-missing Mr Hendrawan, an Airlangga political science student, was last seen on March 12 at a press conference in the offices of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute in Jakarta. He disappeared with two other students, both of whom have since resurfaced.

[According to the People's Democratic Party (PRD), one of their members named Herman Hendrawan was disappeared in March. According to a August 1 report in Kompas, PRD member Feisol Reza (who was also kidnaped and later released by the military), who spoke with Herman, doubted it was him. Herman has admitted that he is also known by the name of another missing person the Kontras are still looking for, Hendra Hambali - James Balowski.]