The Jakarta Post
Former pro-democracy activists who were kidnapped at the tail end of the New Order regime in 1998 are looking to Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) presidential candidate pair Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo-Jusuf Kalla to bring closure to unresolved human rights abuse cases, including the involuntary disappearance of 13 other activists, whose whereabouts remain unknown.
In a press conference on Friday, three kidnapped activists who were eventually released, Raharja Waluya Jati, Faisol Reza and Aan Rusdianto, former members of the People's Democratic Party (PRD), called on Jokowi and Kalla to find their missing colleagues.
'Jusuf Kalla has a good track record in resolving various complicated and prolonged conflicts such as those in Poso [Central Sulawesi] and in Aceh. The conflicts were off-limits for more than 15 years but Jusuf Kalla was able to resolve the Aceh conflict within half a year and the result has been extraordinary for the Acehnese people and for all of us. Meanwhile, Jokowi is able to unite people from different backgrounds. They are both solidarity makers,' Faisol said.
Faisol said resolving the involuntary disappearance cases should not be difficult.
'All witnesses are still alive, the trails and evidence are still out there.'
At least 13 people were abducted between 1997 and 1998 due to their political stance, including poet Wiji Thukul and activists of the PRD; Suyat, Herman Hendrawan, Petrus Bima Anugerah, M. Yusuf, Ucok Munandar Siahaan, Yadin Muhidin and Hendra Hambali.
Some of those kidnapped during the period were released from captivity shortly before the resignation of former president Soeharto, namely then chairman of the PRD, Budiman Sudjatmiko, now a lawmaker from the PDI-P, student activist Andi Arief, now a special staffer to outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and lawyer Desmond Mahesa, now a politician with the Gerindra Party.
Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who founded Gerindra, was allegedly involved in orchestrating the kidnappings, an infraction which resulted in his dismissal from the Indonesian Military (TNI).
Raharja said that three activists would write an open letter, demanding Jokowi and Kalla to solve the involuntary disappearance cases.
'We have been struggling to keep this case alive and not forgotten. It is impossible for us to speak our minds to Prabowo,' he said.
The press briefing, however, was interrupted when Wilson, an activist with the Families of Missing Persons Association (Ikohi), blasted Aan over his recent decision to join Gerindra.
'You must explain yourself. How can you declare your support for Jokowi-JK now while awhile ago you joined Gerindra. You disappointed me and all the families of the victims,' he said.
Aan shot back by saying, 'Because it was the most realistic option at the time. Prabowo was the only person who had publicly declared his intention to run for president.'
Wilson pressed further, asking Aan if he had received money from Gerindra, to which Aan answered 'yes'. Wilson then asked if the money came from Prabowo. 'It was from my friends'.'
Aan stopped responding to Wilson's questions, and when asked by The Jakarta Post outside of the press conference, Aan said he had resigned from Gerindra. 'I was nobody in Gerindra and I never supported Prabowo in any of his campaigns,' he said.
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