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Angered by Prabowo's remarks, families of missing activists to hold massive Kamisan

CNN Indonesia - December 21, 2023

Jakarta – The families of the victims of the enforced disappearances in 1997-98 have raised the possibility of holding a massive Kamisan (Thursday) action in front of the Presidential Palace complex in Central Jakarta ahead of the 2024 elections.

Hakim Hamdun, the son of Dedi Hamdun, one of the abducted activists that remains missing, said the massive Kamisan action would be held towards the end of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration.

"Maybe there will be (a massive Kamisan action) because it is always [held] every week", said Hakim when asked about plans for Kamisan actions ahead of the elections during a press conference in Cikini, Central Jakarta, on Thursday December 21.

Hakim also expressed the families' anger towards the spokesperson for presidential candidate (capres) number 2, Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) Chairperson Prabowo Subianto, who has trivialised the Kamisan actions, which have been held 797 times year after year.

"For this Kamisan, I just want to convey to the number 2 spokesperson who always says this is a broken cassette, a picnic often held on Thursday for the Palace to see. The Kamisan [actions] have been held weekly for five years", he said.

Kamisan actions are held every Thursday in front of the State Palace by victims and the families of victims of human rights violations. The first time it was held was on January 18, 2007.

The figure of Prabowo is indeed alleged to be linked to the enforced disappearance of pro-democracy activists ahead of the fall of the New Order regime of former president Suharto.

Based on a ruling by the Jakarta Military Tribunal in 1998, the abductions were carried out by the Rose Team (Tim Mawar) formed by then Major Bambang Kristiono in July 1997.

As many as 22 activists were abducted. Nine of the victims were returned alive, namely Andi Arief, Nezar Patria, Pius Lustrilanang, Desmond J. Mahesa, Haryanto Taslam, Rahardjo Waluyo Jati, Mugiyanto, Faisol Riza and Aan Rusdianto.

Meanwhile the whereabouts of 13 other activists, namely Wiji Thukul, Petrus Bima Anugrah, Suyat, Yani Afri, Herman Hendrawan, Dedi Hamdun, Sony, Noval Alkatiri, Ismail, Ucok Siahaan, Yadin Muhidin, Hendra Hambali and Abdun Nasser, remain unknown to this day.

IKOHI won't vote for Prabowo

The Indonesian Association of the Families of Missing Persons (IKOHI) says that it will not vote for Prabowo in the 2024 presidential elections.

IKOHI General Secretary Zaenal Muttaqin said that in the inaugural presidential debate held by the General Election Commission (KPU) not long ago, Prabowo gave the same answer to questions about the abductions that he gave in the 2014 and 2019 presidential elections.

Prabowo said that the abduction of the activists was an issue that is directed at Suharto's former son-in-law (Prabowo) every five years and considers questions related to the abductions to be very tendentious and always come up ahead of elections.

Muttaqin said Prabowo's answer to the question about human rights violations in the presidential debate has made IKOHI, for the third time, declare that they will not vote for Prabowo.

"IKOHI will not vote for a capres who is strongly suspected as being the mastermind behind the abduction of activists in 1997-1998", said Muttaqin in a statement on Thursday.

IKOHI along with the victims' families have for 25 years demanded that the government give them justice for the abductions.

"For 25 years and four presidents we have fought for the government to form a team to search for the activists that are still missing and a Human Rights Court for the perpetrators, but the government has ignored this. Until the victims' families who have struggled so have died one by one", he said.

IKOHI believes that hope of resolving the abduction cases will became increasingly difficult if the perpetrator responsible become the next president of the Republic of Indonesia.

According to Muttaqin, since the 2014 presidential elections up until today, Prabowo is still denying responsibility for the activists that are still missing.

Aside from this, Prabowo has also not shown any good faith by having the courage to take responsibility by appearing before a Human Rights Court in order to obtain legal certainly.

"The families of the abduction victims cannot imagine that a violator of human rights, an alleged perpetrator of abductions who has yet to take responsibility for his actions [could] be legally elected as president. Our tagline is 'defeat the human rights violator presidential candidate'", he said.

In 2006 a pro-justice investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) declared that the enforced disappearances were carried out by the Rose Team formed by the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) under the command of then Lieutenant General Prabowo as the commander of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad).

The investigation results were a legal process and a follow up to the decision by the ABRI (the name of the armed forces at that time) Officers Honorary Council (DKP) in 1998 which dismissed Prabowo from the military.

The demands by the victims' families for the abductions to be fully resolved was also recommended by the House of Representatives (DPR) in 2009.

The four recommendations by the DPR were forming an ad hoc Human Rights Court to try the perpetrators of the abductions, forming a team to search for the activists that are still missing, reparation and compensation for the families of the victims and the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

"Out of these four demands, the first and second demands are a priority for the victims' families", said Muttaqin.

During the presidential debate, Prabowo asked that human rights cases not be politicised saying that the issue comes up every five years when he steps forward as a presidential candidate.

Moreover, the victims of the abductions, according to Prabowo, are now behind him in the 2024 presidential elections.

The two people in question are Budiman Sudjatmiko and Andi Arief, two democratic activists who have now lined up behind the number 2 presidential candidate.

"The people who were arrested before, political prisoners, who it is said I abducted, are now on my side defending me. So the problem of human rights, should not be politicised by [presidential candidate] Mas [Brother] Ganjar [Pranowo]", said Prabowo, who is currently the Minister of Defense. (lna/kid)


In 1997-98 as many as 23 pro-democracy activists were abducted by members of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus). After extended periods of detention – in many cases the victims were severely tortured – most were released although 13 remain missing and are presumed dead. Former Kopassus commander Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto, who was at the time President Suharto's son-in-law, has admitted to ordering the abductions but claims they were all released alive and well. He was subsequently discharged from the military over the abductions but has never been tried in court.

Former People's Democratic Party (PRD) chairperson Budiman Sudjatmiko (who was not one of the abduction victims) along with several survivors of the 1997-98 forced disappearances including former PRD leader Andi Arief are publically supporting Prabowo's 2024 election bid, which the Prabowo camp is using to deflect criticisms about his role in the abductions. When Sudjatmiko first publically declared his support for Prabowo in July, dozens of former PRD activists responded by holding a press conference and accused him of betraying the reform movement and called for the perpetrators of past rights abuses to be arrested and tried.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Keluarga Korban Penculikan Aktivis Akan Gelar Kamisan Besar-besaran".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20231221205136-20-1040434/keluarga-korban-penculikan-aktivis-akan-gelar-kamisan-besar-besara