The Jakarta Post
Victims of the bloody 1989 Talangsari tragedy in Central Lampung are demanding that President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo instruct his advisor, Gen. (ret) AM Hendropriyono, to reveal the truth about the incident.
They rejected the statement made recently by the former commander of the Garuda Hitam military command post (Korem), which said victims of the Talangsari incident had committed suicide.
'If it's true that Hendropriyono said hundreds of Talangsari residents committed suicide, my question is this, is he in a healthy condition? I think he needs to see a doctor,' Azwar Khaili, 76, one of the victims, told a press conference on Thursday.
Azwar claimed he was not a member of the hard-line Warsidi group that was accused of attempting to establish an Islamic state, but said yet his house and store were still burnt down by the military.
He also said that his son, Warsito, who was only 11-years-old at that time, was killed in the incident.
Azwar said he had been informed by a resident that Warsito, who had been climbing a tree, was shot by soldiers, who then dragged him into a house and set it on fire.
Following the incident, he said, surviving residents were detained at Korem headquarters in Bandar Lampung for months.
'For decades our legal status was unclear. The state has ignored our rights as citizens. We are still considered rebels and our children face difficulties when applying for jobs,' Azwar said.
He added that former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration had not been serious about handling human rights violations in the case, as there was still no clear result from an investigation into the case.
'As long as we are still alive, we will never stop seeking justice from the government,' he said.
Another victim, Azwari, 63, said the victims demanded clarity on their citizenship status and sufficient compensation from the government.
'Hundreds of residents were killed in a clash with the soldiers. Many were accused of being rebels, arrested, tortured and later released without trial. I lost my status as a civil servant because of the incident,' Azwari said.
The Talangsari tragedy, also known as the Warsidi case, occurred on Feb. 7, 1989, in Cihideung village, Talangsari subdistrict, Rajabasa Lama district, Central Lampung (now part of East Lampung).
A battalion of soldiers from Korem Lampung reportedly attacked the village after dawn, killing hundreds of Warsidi congregation members.
Hendropriyono, who was former Garuda Hitam commander, repeatedly denied having any part in the attack. In an interview with US journalist Allan Nairn recently, Hendropriyono said the victims had committed suicide by hiding in burning houses when the soldiers surrounded them.
Nairn was recently summoned by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to explain his article on his blog.
Komnas HAM said it would summon Hendropriyono, who is also a former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) director, to speak about the case.
The attack was reportedly made following the discovery of Way Jepara military commander Capt. Sutiman's body at the religious complex overseen by Warsidi. Sutiman's body was covered with arrows and stab wounds.
Local military personnel and the district administration considered the religious group to be part of a movement to establish the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII). The group reportedly had links to Abdullah Sungkar, a key NII figure.
An investigation conducted by the Lampung People Solidarity (Smalam) Committee and the Committee for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) reported at least 130 people were killed in the incident.
The families of Talangsari victims, however, claimed there were 246 killed and missing in the incident.
Besides the Talangsari case, Hendropriyono was also alleged to have been involved in the murder of prominent human rights campaigner Munir Said Thalib in 2004, when the former was BIN chief.
Hendropriyono has frequently denied any involvement in Munir's death.
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