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Reinvestigate Tanjung Priok bloodshed: Kontras

Jakarta Post - June 24, 2000

Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has demanded the national rights body reinvestigate the 1984 Tanjung Priok bloodshed.

Amid protests that the rights body be dissolved, Kontras also demanded on Friday that the reinvestigation be conducted by a different set of people representing the National Commission on Human Rights.

Munir, the coordinator of the Kontras' board, told a news conference that the report from the investigation team should be retracted, echoing earlier demands from protesters and other activists. The rights body has been "busy seeking justifications and excuses for forgiveness for the rights abusers," he said.

Kontras stated earlier that the National Commission had committed a "political and legal scandal" following the investigation team's meeting with officers at the military headquarters in Cilangkap. The meeting reportedly stressed concessions which Kontras charged would affect the investigators' neutrality. The investigation team's recommendations, Munir said on Friday, "contrast with the obligation [of the team] to push for legal accountability".

On June 16, National Commission chairman Djoko Soegianto reported to the legislature that the team which was formed to investigate the 1984 shootings found no evidence of intentional mass killing. The rights body also said it had no legal power to conduct a further investigation, and said the report would soon be submitted to the central government, the military chief and the House of Representatives.

However, Munir said, "Legally, it is the National Commission on Human Rights which should conduct a [further] investigation." A new law on the national rights body gives it more power than it previously had.

Munir added that the investigation into the 1984 incident made "fatal" and "substantial" mistakes because the National Commission failed to base inquiries on conventions regarding crimes by the state. The use of conventions on ordinary rights abuses contrasted the commission's claim that it was investigating "severe" human rights abuses, he added.

Munir said the commission should have included conventions on war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide. The international conventions used by the commission included the code of conduct for law enforcement officials and the declaration of basic principles of justice for victims of crime and abuse of power.

Munir cited statements in the investigation report which he said were irrelevant. "[The report] said severe human rights abuse done by the masses included provocation," Munir said. "There is not one international convention which states provocation is a human rights abuse." He also cited a statement in the report on one of the causes of rights violations which refers to the negligence of security officers, which it said led to excessive reaction.

"This would simply mean that there was no human rights abuse, because negligence only leads to inaction, it cannot induce overreacting," Munir said.

The report said 33 lives were lost, including nine killed by the masses, and 36 others were tortured by soldiers in the September 12, 1984 incident. The results showed that the national rights body, Munir said, "does not know what should be investigated from a crime by the state through to its elements".