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Still no justice for survivors, victims of the May 1998 tragedy

Tempo - May 14, 2019

Ahmad Faiz Ibnu Sani, Jakarta – Both of his hands are permanently physically impaired, two of his earlobes damaged, his entire body holds visible burn scars.

"I was nearly burnt alive," said Iwan Firman, one of the survivors of the May 1998 mass-riots when he recalled the horrific incident on Monday, May 13, commemorating 21 years since the May 98 tragedy.

The 60-year-old man retold the story of being burned alive by 20 men without any particular reason. The men appeared to be well-built and short-haired. He encountered the horror that would have a lasting scar while heading home to his house at Tanah Tinggi in Central Jakarta.

This morning, as the years before, Iwan arrived at Citra Plaza in Klender together with other survivors and victims' families to pay respect to the people who were burned alive inside the shopping center that used to be known as Yogya Plaza.

These people constantly demand the government to reveal the mastermind behind the large-scale riots that killed thousands of people in Jakarta and other Indonesian regions.

"If I ever meet Jokowi, I will reveal all of it. I would tell him how miserable my life has become," said Iwan while looking at both of his hands.

Meanwhile, in the May tragedy commemoration, Maria Sanu could not let go of her son's photograph Stevanus Sanu, who was burned alive at the Yogya Plaza. She pressed for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who she openly voted for, to solve the case and bring justice to her son and other victims' families.

"So he would open his heart, eyes and care for the families of the victims who had their human rights violated," said Maria.

The government-formed joint fact-finding team (TGPF) in its report mentioned that the riots that took place on May 13-May 15, 1998, were closely related to the public's socio-political dynamics at the time.

The riot was closely related to a number of events that happened earlier such as the 1997 general elections, activist kidnappings, economic crisis, up to the shootings of Trisakti University students.

The TGPF found it difficult to know the exact number of victims in the 1998 riot. In Jakarta alone, the team found that their final data had conflicting numbers with the volunteer team stating the major riots killed 1,190 people while the Police reported deaths only up to 451 people.

"The perpetrators [of the riot] vary, they include people who were initially passive but then turned into active rioters, provocateurs, up to members of the authority," states the TGPF report,

Amnesty International Indonesia Campaign Manager Puri Kencana Putri said that the 21-year commemoration of the "Reformasi" era coincides with the 2019 general elections and is the reason why Puri urges the government to solve the case.

Puri reminds that the Indonesian government is required to fulfill the rights of the May 1998 riot victims and survivors that include the right to proper justice, truth, and state-funded rehabilitation. "They have the right to know who is responsible for the past human rights violations."

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1205286/still-no-justice-for-survivors-victims-of-the-may-1998-tragedy