Jakarta

FPI members attacks rights
commission headquarters


JAKARTA (JP): Some 300 members of the Front for Defenders of Islam (FPI) attacked the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) Headquarters on Jl. Latuharhary in Central Jakarta on Friday.

The assault was in protest over a report by the commission's investigation team into the mass killing and burials in the 1984 Tanjung Priok shootings in North Jakarta.

The protesters, mostly clad in white Muslim clothes with FPI emblems and green scarfs, arrived at the headquarters at 2 p.m. on six trucks, scores of motorcycles and a pickup truck.

Armed with stones and one-meter-long rattan sticks, they broke windows atboth the commission building and a security post in front of the headquarters.

Dozens of police personnel, who were deployed to safeguard the compound, were unable to stop the violence as they were outnumbered by the protesters.

The protesters demanded that the commission be abolished, saying it had failed to provide a fair report on human rights abuses in the Tanjung Priokcase.

""Abolish Komnas HAM,"" they repeatedly shouted.

Protest coordinator M. Alwi Usman called the investigation team's report discriminative.

""The report failed to mention the shooters. Ironically, the commission met with some high-ranking military officers one day before it presented the report to the House of Representatives on Friday last week,"" he said.

The bloody Tanjung Priok shootings claimed the lives of 33 civilians, with as many as 24 people killed by security officers. The remaining nine -- all family members of Tan Kioe Liem -- died at the hands of the angry masses.

However, it is believed that the number of people killed by security officers is much greater than the official count.

Muslim activists have repeatedly protested the way the commission conducted the investigation, claiming that high-ranking military officers were allegedly behind the massacre, such as former Armed Forces (ABRI) chief Gen. (ret) L.B. Moerdani and former vice president Gen. (ret) Try Sutrisno.

Besides protesting the team's report, the FPI members also blasted the commission for its passive stance on the bloody sectarian classes in Maluku.

Commission member Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, who met the protesters, vowed that the Komnas HAM would follow up on the group's demand.

""Lillahi Taala (It's up to God to decide),"" he told FPI representatives when asked whether the commission should be disbanded.

Another commission member, Asmara Nababan, regretted the violence.

""It's not necessary to be violent here as we're ready to discuss the team's report,"" he told reporters after the attack.

Head of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute's (LBH Jakarta) Civil and Political Rights Division Paulus R. Mahulette condemned the police's mannerin handling the protesters.

""The police should have protected the building, instead of letting the violence occur,"" he said in a statement, copies of which were made available to the media.

It was the second attack on the commission building after an assault by members of the Inter-University Muslim Association (Hammas) last Tuesday.

The Tanjung Priok massacre occurred after a clash between military personnel and civilians following emotionally charged lectures at Tanjung Priok's Rawa Badak Mosque by preachers, who were reportedly criticizing theSoeharto administration.

After vandalizing the headquarters, the protesters left the scene and drove to Mampang Prapatan Police station on Jl. Kapten Tendean in South Jakarta. The group expressed its sympathy to the police over an attack by an unidentified group of people on the station last Monday, which injured three people, including a police officer.

The group condemned the attack. ""It is a bad precedent: a certain party, giving its backing to a cafe, attacked an arm of the law,"" Alwi, who is also FPI's deputy chairman, said.

After staging a five-minute oration in front of the police station, the group moved to the Jimbani cafe, believed to be the source of the attack onthe Mampang Prapatan Police station.

On their way to the cafe, the group vandalized billboards advertising beer products in front of several cafes, restaurants and bars along Jl. Wijaya and Jl. Kemang Raya, all in South Jakarta.

The protesters smashed windows at the Jimbani cafe, and some billboards. However, they did not enter the cafe.

Jimbani's manager Rabin Iman Sutejo regretted the incident. ""But, I couldn't do anything as it was carried out by the masses,"" he said, adding that the cafe would be closed for several days.

The protesters then left for their headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta. (06/asa)

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