Election Watch

Prabowo unsuitable for
president, rights campaigners
say

A group of human rights campaigners has said that Prabowo Subianto is not a suitable candidate to run for the office of Indonesian president due to his alleged involvement in past human rights violations, including the forced disappearances of 13 pro-democracy activists in 1997-1998.

The campaigners, who are grouped under the Civil Society Coalition Against Forgetting and who work to uncover past human rights violations, said the Gerindra Party's chief patron was not the right person to be a presidential candidate given his past track record.

“Our rejection to this presidential candidate who is alleged to have been involved in human rights violations is part of our struggle to combat the neglect of past human rights violations and to promote a democratic way of life and better law enforcement,” coalition representative Poengky Indarti said as quoted by Antara at the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The coalition's members, which comprise Imparsial, Kontras, the Setara Institute and the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), along with relatives of students killed during the so-called Trisakti tragedy - which took place in Jakarta on May 12, 1998 - and of victims of forced disappearances, visited Komnas HAM and urged the commission to investigate Prabowo and former Collaboration of Armed Forces Strategic Command (Pangkostrad) chief Maj. Gen. (ret) Kivlan Zen.

Prabowo was allegedly involved in the forced disappearances of 13 pro-democracy activists in the late 1990s in his capacity as commander of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) at the time. Separately, Kivlan said in a recent statement that he knew where the 13 missing activists had been shot and buried.

The coalition said that Prabowo, as the Kopassus commander at the time, should be held responsible for the disappearances. Moreover, according to several activists who were kidnapped but later released, they had seen most of the 13 missing activists when they were held at the strategic command post at Kopassus headquarters in Cijantung, East Jakarta.

HRWG director Rafendi Djamin said such crimes could only be resolved if there was a political opportunity; that was why they were highlighting once again the plight of the disappeared and their families ahead of the presidential election.

Setara Institute chairman Hendardi said the coalition's mission was merely aimed at revealing the truth behind the disappearances.

He added that the coalition was not motivated by any political objective and would not interfere with any presidential candidate's right to contest the election in July. (ebf)

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