Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says it deplores a statement made by ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Budiman Sudjatmiko who said that Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) Chairperson Prabowo Subianto does not need to be held hostage (digunduli, left hanging) by past human rights issues.
According to Kontras Impunity Monitoring Division Head Jane Rosalina, the statement has hurt the families of victims of the 1997-98 forced disappearances of pro-democracy activists.
Rosalina said that it is clear from the investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) Pro-Judicial Team that there are indications of Prabowo's involvement in the abductions.
Lieutenant General Prabowo, who at the time was the commander of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), was proven to have ordered the abduction of 23 activists. Rosalina said that nine of them were released and returned safely."Meanwhile the whereabouts of 13 other people are unknown to this day and one person has been found dead", Rosalina told Kompas.com on Thursday July 20.
So, according to Rosalina, it is as if the statements by Prabowo and Sudjatmiko are attempting to bury the dark past of crimes allegedly committed by those who perpetrated the forced disappearances at the beginning of reformasi – referring to the political reform process that began in 1998.
"In fact, if this situation continues to be perpetuated by the state, of course, again and again the state is repeatedly providing legal impunity to the perpetrators of human rights violators in Indonesia", she said.
"While the families of victims of the forced disappearance in 1997-98 are still waiting for clarity in the case and there is today's generation that also needs guarantees of protection from the state", added Rosalina.
Earlier, Prabowo and Sudjatmiko met in Jakarta on Tuesday evening, July 18. As reported by tribunnews.com, Sudjatmiko stated that the current situation is different and he and Prabowo have agreed let the past be the past.
"Now, the situation is better for the nation, [we're more] mature with one another, talk about differences, so we will remember the past as the past, the future is not for us but for the nation", Sudjatmiko said.
Sudjatmiko is therefore giving his support to Prabowo so that he does not continue to be held hostage by the past. Moreover he believes that the former Kopassus commander is a good national figure.
"Therefore, I appreciate him, I invite Pak [Mr] Prabowo, come on, keep going, hopefully we can give our support, so that the nation's good people like Pak Prabowo will not continue to be held hostage by the past", he explained.
On the other hand, Sudjatmiko added that Prabowo and himself want to remember the past as something sweet, and he does not want to continue owing a debt to the past.
"I think, I will remember my past and Pak Prabowo will remember Pak Prabowo's past sweetly, yeah. Moreover, we owe it to the future, not owe a debt to the past", he concluded.
Budiman Sudjatmiko is the former chairperson of the leftist People's Democratic Party (PRD), who along with several other PRD activists was arrested on August 11, 1996 and accused of being the masterminds behind the July 27 riots at the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) offices in Central Jakarta. In April 1997, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for subversion and insulting the government. He was released on December 10, 1999, more than one-and-a-half years after former President Suharto was forced to step down, after being granted amnesty by President Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid. In December 2004, he joined the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and was later elected to parliament for two periods in 2009-2014 2014-2019.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Budiman Sudjatmiko Sebut Prabowo Tak Perlu Diganduli Masa Lalu, Kontras Buka Suara".]