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Jakarta Post

Man deported for visiting 1965 tragedy mass grave

  • Syofiardi Bachyul Jb

    The Jakarta Post

Padang   /   Mon, October 19, 2015   /  06:01 pm

The government has deported Swedish national Tom Iljas for visiting a mass grave in West Sumatra where lies the remains of 40 supporters of the now defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) who were killed in the bloody tragedy of 1965.

Besides deporting Tom on Friday, the Padang Immigration Office also blacklisted Tom, who was born in Salido, South Pesisir regency, West Sumatra, 77 years ago, from entering the country.

The Padang Legal Aid Institute (LBH Padang) called the deportation and blacklisting a form of intimidation.

'€œAlthough he is a foreign citizen, he is a victim of 1965 [tragedy],'€ LBH Padang Civilian and Political Rights Division head Wendra Rona Putra, who accompanied Tom during questioning at the immigration office, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Wendra said that Tom, who lost his Indonesian citizenship in 1965 after completing his studies at the Peking Institute of Agriculture Mechanization, and attained Swedish citizenship 15 years ago, arrived in Padang on Oct. 10.

The man planned to visit the grave of his father, Iljas Raja Bungsum, who is believed to have been buried along with other PKI supporters killed in Salido.

Arriving at the location, Tom asked the landowners for permission to pray, but they told him he needed permission from the village head, who was also at the location.

The village head, however, did not grant permission. At the location, about 20 people, suspected to be intelligence officers, appeared and started taking pictures of Tom'€™s group.

Tom then decided to leave the location and cancel his planned grave visit.

After taking two of his relatives home, the group continued to Padang. Five kilometers later the car was blocked by plainclothes officers in police cars. The group'€™s car keys were taken away forcibly.

The police had initially asked Tom and his entourage to get out of the car but they allegedly refused
to comply.

Police officers took control of the vehicle and took in Tom and his group for questioning. During interrogation and in written documents, there was no mention of any law being broken, but police continued to assert that the group had been filming a documentary in Padang and elsewhere about cruelty toward the PKI.

Tom'€™s sister, an 81-year-old woman, was spared from questioning on health concerns.

The group'€™s car was also searched and all items inside were confiscated and taken into the interrogation room. The police allegedly intimidated the group by yelling and slamming items on the table.

The police also seized two memory cards that had already been copied by them.

'€œPolice said the 23-hour questioning was carried out for security measures, but we saw it as an arbitrary arrest and illegal detention,'€ Wendra said.

South Pesisir Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Deni Yushadi could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

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