The Jakarta Post
Deputy Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama's family still carries the scars of the May 1998 riots.
Ahok himself watched the burning of Karawaci Supermall when his family had to move from Karawaci in Tangerang to Pluit in North Jakarta around May 13. There were burning tires everywhere.
'We thought that we'd be better dying as a family instead of running away,' said Ahok at City Hall, on Sunday.
Ahok's wife was pregnant with their first child in May 1998 when many Chinese-Indonesian families fled the country.
'I named our son Nicholas, which means 'victory of the people',' he said.
Ahok shared his memories on the May riots that preceded the down fall of Soeharto regime while addressing a luncheon at the 15th commemoration of the May 1998 riots held by the National Commission on Violence against Women.
As a Chinese Indonesian who witnessed the 1998 crisis, Ahok said he disagreed with other Chinese who said they must maintain good relations with non-Chinese people to avoid being looted and abused.
'As Indonesians, we all have equal rights,' he said.
During the 1998 riots, many houses and businesses belonging to the Chinese community were destroyed. Chinese women were raped and killed, but no one was brought to justice for the crimes that killed an estimated 1,000 people. (ebf)
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