The Jakarta Post Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Lilian Budianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has insisted on summoning retired Army generals for questioning in connection with the 1989 killings in the Lampung village of Talangsari, despite the government’s opposition.
The rights body is considering issuing a second summons for the Lampung military commander when the incident took place, A.M. Hendropriyono, then armed forces chief Gen. (ret) Try Sutrisno and then Army Special Forces commander Gen. (ret) Wismoyo Arismunandar, who all skipped the first hearing earlier this month.
Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono has suggested the generals ignore the summons.
“The defense minister’s objection shows a lack of understanding of our mission to uphold human rights,” Ridha Saleh, the commission’s deputy chairman, said Monday. “The government should not hamper our efforts to bring justice to the victims of the Talangsari incident.”
Earlier in the day, Juwono told a House of Representatives hearing the rights commission had no authority to summon retired servicemen unless the House endorsed a law saying otherwise.
He also denied the retired generals had deliberately avoided the questioning for fear they could be held responsible for the killings.
The Talangsari incident revolves around a dawn attack by a battalion of Army soldiers on the village, which was believed to be home to a group, led by one Warsidi, accused of attempting to establish an Indonesian Islamic state.
Officials said 27 members of the Warsidi-led Koran recital group were killed in the incident, but rights groups put the death toll as high as 246.
The military assault reportedly took place following the discovery of the body of Way Jepara military commander Capt. Sukiman in the village. The officer died of stab wounds and a poisoned dart in his chest.
Military and district officials suspected Warsidi of being a follower of Abdullah Sungkar, an Islamic figure who once lived in exile in Malaysia.
Survivors said the Talangsari tragedy not only claimed the lives of their family members, but also deprived them of their basic rights, such as access to electricity, which remains absent from the village until today.
Ridha said the retired generals would be questioned as witnesses.
“It would be suspicious if they refused to answer the summonses, questioning our authority to call them,” he said.
A 1999 law on human rights authorizes the commission to summon any witness for questioning after approval from the district court as part of its attempt to conduct a thorough investigation.
March 25-31, 2008
Human Rights Violations
The Generals’ Last Bastion
A number of retired generals liable to be made human rights violation suspects complained to Juwono Sudarsono. The Minister of Defense came to their aid.
WIRANTO paid a sudden visit to the office of Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono on Monday last week. The former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander was flanked by head of the TNI Legal Affairs Bureau, Rear Admiral Henry Williem.
In the meeting, said Juwono, Wiranto described the decision of the Constitutional Court confirming the principle of retroactive trial in the human rights tribunal. Juwono promised to study the decision.
As the guests left after the hour-long meeting, Juwono explained to reporters what the meeting had discussed. He appealed that retired servicemen “should not come if summonsed by the National Human Rights Commission.”
Leaders of several NGOs were enraged by Juwono’s statement. They accused the minister of protecting human rights violators. Annoyed by the statement, Usman Hamid, Chairman of the Commission for Missing Persons & Victims of Violence (Kontras), promptly called Juwono the next day whence they engaged in a heated debate.
The minister stuck to Article 28 letter I of the Constitution, stipulating that a law shall not be retroactively put into force. What he meant was Law No. 26/2000 on the Human Rights Tribunal. Usman, on the other hand, firmly argued that the trial would deal with perpetrators of crimes against humanity. Before the debate was concluded, both agreed to meet end-March.
* * *
It was former deputy commander of the East Timor Integration Troops, Eurico Guterres, who requested a judicial review of Law No. 26/2000 in early June 2007.
The man who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for human rights violations in Indonesia’s former province urged that the Constitutional Court make a judicial review of Article 43 paragraph 2 of the law. The provision specified that the ad hoc human rights tribunal shall be formed by the President with the proposal of the House of Representatives (DPR). Guterres was suspicious that his trial had been directed by DPR members. “My constitutional right,” said Guterres, “was harmed by the political intervention of the legislators.”
In August 2007, the Constitutional Court granted Guterres’ judicial review, though it had no effect on his sentence. The Court decided that the ad hoc tribunal can be proposed by the legislative institution, but it shall be based on an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and the Attorney General’s Office (AGO).
The decision pleased not only Guterres but also families of other human rights violation victims. Only the cases of East Timor and Tanjung Priok have been determined by the DPR as grave violations of human rights so far. With the Constitutional Court decision, the opportunity was open to Komnas HAM to investigate other cases.
Komnas HAM compiled dossiers of several cases, including the disappearance of activists in 1998, the May 1998 riot, the Semanggi case, and the Trisakti case. These four cases were already submitted to the AGO.
Since January 2008, for instance, Komnas HAM has investigated the case of human rights violation in Talangsari, Lampung. The tragedy, 19 years ago, occurred when local resident Warsidi was accused of being anti-Suharto, anti-Pancasila as the sole ideology, and planning to set up an Islamic state. At dawn on February 7, 1989, the military attacked the Warsidi group, with victims falling.
The inquiry into this case has been on and off. At the end of last month, Komnas HAM summonsed Sudomo (ex-Coordinating Minister for Politics & Security), Try Sutrisno (ex-Army Chief of Staff), Wismoyo Arismunandar (ex-Special Forces commander), and Hendropriyono (ex-Black Garuda 043 military commander, Lampung).
Except for Sudomo, all the generals failed to show up. Now Komnas HAM plans to send second summonses. “They should appear because this is only an initial examination,” said Yoseph Adi Prasetyo, a member of Komnas HAM.
Before the second summonses were conveyed, Juwono came to shield the generals. Komnas HAM, said Juwono, had no coercive power because the commission’s investigation had no legal force. If inquiry is to be conducted, questions should be sent in writing, “And there’s no need to summons.”
Ifdal Kasim, Chairman of Komnas HAM, regretted Juwono’s statement. Such a statement, protested Ifdal, is “the same as suggesting people disobey the law.”
— Wenseslaus Manggut, Wahyu Titiyoga
March 25-31, 2008
Support for Human Rights Violators?
Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono has urged retired military officers to ignore Komnas HAM summonses. This does not bode well for human rights advocacy.
DEFENSE Minister Juwono Sudarsono has just done something that could set a bad precedent in our efforts to uphold human rights in this country. He recommended that retired Indonesian Military (TNI) officers-especially those suspected of involvement in human rights abuses-ignore summonses from the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM). It may or may not be a coincidence, but a few days earlier, the minister met with former TNI commander Wiranto and head of the TNI Legal Defense Agency, Rear Admiral Henry Willem, at his office in the Defense Department.
We can all see how retired officers-in their 60s-find themselves. Some of them live with the constant threat of spending time in jail. Others are eager to enter the political arena, but they are being held back by unresolved charges of human rights violations in the past. Each of them live must with their respective “karmas.” Sixty-year-old Wiranto, for example, is often mentioned as a presidential candidate for 2009.
The world has slowly changed, it is now more open. Obviously, special treatment is no longer the prerogative of human rights violators. In two months the UN Human Rights Commission is to visit and evaluate Indonesia’s human rights performance. Last year, TNI Commander in Chief Djoko Suyanto gave his backing on investigations into incidents involving human rights abuses, like in Alas Tlogo and Pasuruan, East Java, where four people died and eight were injured. It is this backdrop that compelled Minister Juwono to defend the retired officers.
We cannot but conclude that the minister’s decision is bound to disrupt the difficult process of bringing human rights violators to justice, a process that began when the Constitutional Court allowed the trials of those responsible for gross violations of human rights in Tanjung Priok and East Timor to go on. This breakthrough enabled the establishment of ad hoc courts proposed by the legislature. This came as a result of an investigation by Komnas HAM and the Attorney General’s Office. Ignoring Komnas HAM summonses will seriously impede efforts to apply the law to cases that have so far remained untouched.
Take the Talangsari case, for example. Since the beginning of this year, Komnas HAM has made tremendous efforts to investigate human rights abuses in the 1989 Lampung incident. It summonsed four retired officers: Try Sutrisno, Wismoyo Arismunandar, Sudomo, and Hendropriyono. Only Sudomo has had the guts to come forward.
Juwono, a civilian academic who has had a long career in military affairs, perhaps has forgotten the people on the other side of the incidents: tragic victims of human rights abuses. They are the ones who suffered, and have the right to justice. They are the victims of the September 30, 1965 Movement, the violence at Tanjung Priok, in Aceh during military rule, at Talangsari and other places.
Tragically, in Indonesia, these violent incidents seem to have taken place with no one being accountable for them. The justice system almost never refers to, let alone metes out punishment, to the people who should bear the responsibility of these heinous crimes.
March 25-31, 2008
Sudomo: A true soldier does not shirk when he is summoned
AWAY from the public spotlight for some time, the silver-haired Sudomo suddenly made an appearance at the offices of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), on Jalan Latuharhary, Jakarta, last February. His presence attracted attention, given that the elderly gentleman was once a senior security official during the New Order era.
When Suharto was in power, Navy (ret) Admiral Sudomo was Commander of the Public Order & Security Restoration Command (Kopkamtib)-the government’s super-security organization. He would grimly appear on television, usually to announce government decisions on security issues, like the closure of seven national newspapers during the 1978 political crisis. But there was also a lighter side to Sudomo, like when he self-deprecatingly admitted to his ever-problematic love life.
His appearance at the Komnas HAM not so long ago was to serve as a witness in the investigation of the Talangsari case. The case involved an attack by troops of the 043 Black Garuda Military District Command in Lampung, against a Muslim prayer group at Way Jepara, Talangsari, Lampung.
These people were suspected of being anti-Pancasila (the national philosophy) and members of a separatist Islamic group. The military assault resulted in quite a few victims, including women and children. At that time-February 1989-Sudomo was Coordinating Minister for Politics & Security.
He spoke with Tempo reporters Widiarsi Agustina and F.X. Dimas Prasetyo, who met Sudomo at his home in South Jakarta, about Talangsari and other similar violent incidents during the New Order era. Excerpts:
What were you doing at the Komnas HAM headquarters?
I received a letter summoning me to Komnas HAM, and it said that if I didn’t make an appearance, I would be brought to court. But I also felt it was my responsibility to clarify the Talangsari incident, even though it happened 19 years ago.
What did you tell Komnas HAM?
I am unable to tell you all the details. I am under oath and what I tell Komnas HAM will be processed in their investigation report. However, essentially, I told them all I knew about that incident. Unfortunately, there are some who feel that what I am doing is a mistake.
What do you mean?
My explanation to Komnas HAM is being seen as an attempt to get Hendropriyono, who at the time was commander of the Black Garuda Military District Command, to be tried in court. But it’s not that way. What I explained was my position during the time of the Talangsari incident in February 1989, when I was Coordinating Minister for Politics & Security, not Commander of the Security & Order Restoration Command (Kopkamtib). Institutionally, Kopkamtib was disbanded in 1988 and replaced with the Coordinating Body for the Maintenance of National Stability (Bakorstanas), led by the Armed Forces commander.
How was the chain of command at that time?
The responsibility for implementation of public order and security differed. As Coordinating Minister for this department, I was responsible for nine agencies, headed respectively by the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Information, Justice, the State Secretariat and the Armed Forces commander, chief of the State Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Attorney General. Each month we would meet to evaluate the current political and security situation. This is different from the functions of the Kopkamtib.
What really happened on the ground at the time?
I don’t exactly know what happened on the ground. It happened under the jurisdiction of the 043 Black Garuda Military District Command. The report I received said these units were checking on this pesantren (Islamic boarding school) located inside a protected forest area at Talangsari, Lampung. These people reportedly rejected the concept of a unitary state. The commander of the military district then was Hendropriyono. Accordingly, during the military checks, they were attacked, so the troops fought back to defend themselves. So, there seems to have been some kind of misunderstanding between the troops and the civilians.
When did you first hear about the incident?
During a meeting of the Coordinating Ministry of Politics & Security. Because the incident was reported to me, I instructed them to deal with it, to solve the problem and not let it become political. The report that came to me indicated the military district commander did the right thing. He had told his men to defend themselves. They should not be seen to be shooting at will. The problem was because many of them were inexperienced, the result was a lot of victims.
If it was self-defense, why were the victims women and children?
It was an impossible situation: civilians attacking the military. As a professional, he had to act according to the rules. The problem was that they had to defend themselves.
What about the order to shoot on sight?
That also depends on the situation. I don’t know. The military district commander is the one who should do some explaining.
Do you justify his action?
The condition would have been different if they had not attacked. This was not reported by the media. Frankly, I did justify the decision [to shoot back]. I advised them to solve the problem as best as possible.
What do you mean by solving it as best as possible?
Again, you’re asking for details. There’s a chain of command here. From the Armed Forces chief, to the Army Chief of Staff, the military regional commander and military district commander. Again, this differs from the channels used by the Kopkamtib, which are direct. The problem was that the report was made orally, not in writing. Some months later, he announced that the problem was solved. A team was sent out there. What more should I have done?
At that time there was no investigation team?
None. The military district commander, in line with the chain of command, must be accountable to his superiors: the military regional commander, the Army Chief of Staff and the Armed Forces commander.
You did not summon the Black Garuda commander?
Because I was then not the Kopkamtib chief, I did not summon him. Otherwise, I would have called him in. I, myself would have announced it. But this organization was disbanded, and replaced by Bakorstanas, led by the Armed Forces chief commander.
As Coordinating Minister for Politics & Security, you could have asked the Armed Forces commander.
I was at the level where I did not need to oversee those below me.
The impression is that you’re trying to wash your hands of the case.
I am not washing my hands of the case. But that was the situation. I am always open to clarify the problem, according to the rules and the relevance. From the time I was appointed chief of Kopkamtib (Pangkopkamtib), I made it a point to publicize any incident. At that time, I provided them suggestions, but still no final report was forthcoming. So, I considered the problem solved. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to come down to the level of military district commander.
The problem is that there was never any clarification from the lower level until now.
That’s it. Now they say I am jeopardizing someone else’s position. But, how am I doing this? Everything is clear. Someone has to be accountable. From the start, I explained that what the military district commander had done was the right thing. But if one looks at the chain of responsibility, he should be the first to be accountable.
What does this mean?
Komnas HAM should not have summoned someone senior like myself, but from a lower level, like the commander of the military district.
But the commander and the chief commander at that time refused to make an appearance.
They should have had the courage to do it. If they call themselves soldiers, they must have the courage to answer the summons. That is the doctrine. Personally, when the police or other government organizations call me over some problem or the other, I make it a point to appear before them. This is embedded in the Constitution.
Talangsari is one of many cases of human rights violations during the Suharto era. There are now new cases of violence during that period. What is your comment?
No problem. In the past, people were afraid to report incidents. Now, following reforms and democracy, this is possible. But the problem is those incidents happened a long time ago. Talangsari, for instance, happened 19 years ago. This could be problematic because the files and documents man not be available. According to the Law on Archives, files are regarded official for 10 years. After that time limit, they become invalid.
But what if the cases remain relevant?
If a particular case is considered to be important, by all means bring it to court. The problem is that most of them are old cases. And over time our capacity to remember diminishes. Take myself, when I am questioned I am unable to respond well, because I’ve forgotten so much. Ask me the name of a minister during the previous regime, and I wouldn’t remember. But I do remember the names of beautiful singers.
During the 1980s, when you were Pangkoptamtib, protests were also dealt with violence.
Not really. Since the Malari incident, I altered the Kopkamtib doctrine. The approach is more persuasive. We have always formed teams to check directly to the bottom. The way they were handled was also better. Just look at the cases of Dorodjatun, Rizal Ramli. After I detained them I told them to go study abroad. So they wouldn’t be a nuisance to the state. They are now able to return and do something about rebuilding the country. Obviously there is some benefit to being detained by the Kopkamtib.
In the Priok case, why did things get out of control?
Once again, it was the situation. When people get angry, they fail to see the conditions. The protests are dealt with by the army, and they should not act arbitrarily. Shooting has its own rules, preceded by a warning shot, then shoot at the leg first. Shootings are preceded by smoke and a warning. You just can’t shoot people at will.
Today, the policy is to shoot with rubber bullets. What about previous periods?
It’s the same. When there was a disturbance, we used rubber bullets, so that the incident doesn’t develop into problems.
Whey were there so many deaths among NGO members and activists?
What to do? Those officers on duty were new graduates from the Armed Forces Academy. I used to tell them, aim at the legs if they become too much to handle. But they were kids who had just graduated. They didn’t aim well, instead of shooting at legs, they aimed at heads. Not surprisingly, many died. What can I say? Yet, at that time I explained to the media about these conditions.
Why wasn’t the violence handled according to the law?
I remember being asked that question at that time. I told them I used the law. I explained the situation, that they were just kids. That was the last case. After that, there were no more cases.
In the Priok case, why hasn’t there been a peaceful solution?
Because no one ever sued or demanded anything.
What about the mysterious shootings of perceived criminal elements?
That happened when Armed Forces chief Benny Moerdani was concurrently Defense & Security Minister. When I led the Kopkamtib, there were never such operations. But that was about a gang war fighting over land. They shot at each other and many of the bodies were just lined down the main street. There was no policy about shooting them. Who should be responsible for the mysterious killings?
Clearly, it was not the Kopkamtib. That was under the leadership of Benny Moerdani and endorsed by Pak Harto. So it was a series of gang wars. Unfortunately, these gang wars produced dead bodies, which were then thrown just like that onto the street. It’s the public which gets psychologically affected.
Didn’t Suharto admit in his book that was his policy?
No. There was no such instruction. Pak Harto himself said they were gang wars.
Did any of the protests ever make Suharto mad?
The Malari one. That one didn’t make the radar screens. The intelligence people should have known and reported it to the President. In this case, there was no report at all. Then there was the Social Charity Contribution (SDSB). At the time there were protests at the State Secretariat and the demonstrators managed to break down a wall and flooded in. I know this made Pak Harto very angry, although he was still in Cairo at the time. The problem was that Pak Harto followed closely the SDSB process. His intention was good-to help the poor. But in the end, this was abused, and ultimately it was gambling, pure and simple.
As Pangkopkamtib, how did you deal with demonstrations and political dissent? Did you have to consult the President?
I met with the President regularly. But normally I made my own decisions and then reported it to him. I and my team were used to solving problems ourselves. I reported to him because he asked, like the Woyla [hijacking] case. Benny Moerdani and I agreed how we would handle it. We trained an antiterrorist team at Cawang first, then we made our assault. So, I did not report all cases to the President. It depends on the problem, like the banning of the 50 Petitioners from leaving the country. That was my decision, not the President’s. In fact, Pak Harto asked whether it was true that Ali Sadikin (ex-Jakarta Governor) and General Nasution were under country-arrest status. I confirmed it.
So, you were kind of Suharto’s bumper.
Not really. I was the kind of minister who didn’t want to trouble the President.
You mean like Harmoko?
He was a minister who actually annoyed Suharto. He often refused to see Harmoko. There were three people he refused to meet: Harmoko, Habibie and Ginandjar. And the entire family understood this. So, although he suffered from a stroke, his memory was still good. Pak Harto was, after all, a Javanese. They should have been able to secure him as he himself got Bung Karno under control. So, when they wanted to visit him at Pertamina Hospital (when Suharto fell ill), the family refused them. Pak Harto had told his family that he was willing to attend funerals or weddings, with one condition: “that those three names were not around.”
How effective was the Kopkamtib?
The authority of the Kopkamtib was in line with the Law on Subversion. If there were problems, we would hold them off. This is called preventive measures, the same as in Malaysia and Singapore. There they can be incarcerated for two years. The Law on Subversives, will be replaced by the Law on Antiterrorism. In fact, people can actually be detained for six months, but all the same the 7 x 24 hours must be proven. This is the problem. Remember, the United States in Guantanamo needed no proof [of guilt].
During the 1980s, you were the figure most protested by Muslims.
Yes, I understand. In the old days, I liked to arrest people. People thought it was aimed at Muslims, but actually that is not the case. I arrested the radicals and those who had the potential to disturb public order and stability, formed a national zikir council. This is to absolve my sins.
sidebar: Admiral (ret) Sudomo
Place & Date of Birth: Malang, East Java, September 20, 1926
Indonesian Naval Institute (1944) Special Operations Training, Sarangan, East Java (1948) Artillery School, Den Helder, The Netherlands (1953) Destroyer Command Course, Poland (1958) National Defense Institute (1965) Marines Command Training (KKO), Surabaya (1966) Navy Command Staff College, Jakarta (1968)
Mandala Fleet Admiral (1961-1964) Central Fleet Commander (1964-1969) Navy Chief of Staff (1969-1973) Deputy Chief, Public Order & Security Restoration Command (Kopkamtib) (1973-1974) Chief of Staff, Kopkamtib (1974-1981) Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) Vice Admiral/ Kopkamtib Commander (1982-1983) Labor Minister (1983-1988) l Coordinating Minister for Politics & Security (1988-1993) Chairman, Supreme Consultative Council (1993-1998)
Joyo Indonesia News Service