Opinion

Letter to the editor:
Prabowo clarifies

I am writing this response to the article entitled “Whatever happened in Kraras, Timor Leste, ‘Pak’ Prabowo?” written by Aboeprijadi Santoso, which appeared in the Dec. 20 edition of The Jakarta Post.

This essay, and specific charges relating to the tragic events at Kraras, is clearly a personal attack on my military career and personal reputation, based on unproven allegations, innuendos and third-hand reports — none substantiated, by either the United Nations or current Timor Leste authorities.

It is revealing that this issue, dealing with events that took place over 30 years ago, has been revived and finds its way into the press just 100 days before the coming Indonesian legislative election, in a manner clearly intended to cast serious doubt on me, as one of the leading candidates for the office of the president of the Republic of Indonesia.

I thus wish to protest in the strongest terms and to refute the scurrilous allegations, none of which are substantiated, contained in this article.

Let me ask you this. If indeed I am guilty of this massacre, and other such war crimes, how is it that I have been accepted and even photographed in meetings and friendly conversation with former Timor Leste president Xanana Gusmao (April 20, 2001), Lere Anan Timur (November 21, 2008) and Mari Alkatiri (June 20, 2013)?

Photographs and articles confirming this were published by the Post, which by the way should have done its homework before publishing Aboeprijadi’s article.

Would Xanana and other Timorese freedom fighters, our nation’s former enemies, have befriended an Indonesian officer truly guilty of such despicable crimes against civilians?

For the record, I insist I was nowhere near the site of the “Kraras Massacre” that occurred in Viqueque district on Aug. 8, 1983 and I seriously challenge anyone to offer proof that I was either in the vicinity or that I issued any order to abuse or kill civilians.

Neither the UN nor the government of Timor Leste have ever proffered charges of human rights violations against me, and the article in question reveals this, with its “[…]all had heard of Prabowo, but none said to have seen him in the area […]”, “allegedly involved in a number of human rights violations” and “the circumstances that led to renewed violence remain largely unclear”.

If the facts remain unclear, what is the point of bringing up this tragedy and pointing the finger at an Indonesian presidential candidate, except to undermine and cast a shadow on his electoral campaign?

In fact, my name was cleared in an investigative article by Jose Manuel Tesoro, carried in the March 13, 2000 edition of Asiaweek, which states the following:

“The question is: How far did Prabowo participate in all this? To obtain details of his alleged abuses, Asiaweek contacted four separate non-governmental organizations monitoring military atrocities. These were TAPOL in London; Solidamor in Jakarta; the HAK Foundation, headquartered in Dili; and the East Timor Action Network [ETAN] in New York. We asked for eyewitness reports, transcripts of intercepted communications, leaked papers or anything that could substantiate these stories. None could provide them.”

As a matter of fact, on many occasions I protected Falintil guerrillas taken prisoner by the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Timorese civilians from reprisals, in a complex and confused situation, where the Indonesian Army became involved in a civil conflict, one in which brother frequently stood against brother and the battle lines were unclear.

These tired and unproven rumors, as recited in this article (some three decades after the fact, conducted and written up by a journalist who apparently is well known for his grudges and animosity toward the TNI) are a matrix of lies, unsupported by history.

Ask the Timorese themselves what happened. I claim that this whispering campaign is most probably backed by an old guard of corrupt Indonesian politicians, frightened of a popular movement that appeals to the aspirations of millions of young people and the underprivileged poor, and which is determined to quash corruption and institute clean government.
 
Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto
Jakarta

Paper Edition | Page: 7

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