Amnesty International Report 1998 - Indonesia and East Timor

(This report covers the period January-December 1997) At least 300 prisoners of conscience were detained. Forty-one were sentenced to prison terms and at least 40 others were on trial or awaiting trial or had been threatened with charges at the end of the year. Hundreds of people, including possible prisoners of conscience, were briefly detained without charge or trial. At least 208 political prisoners sentenced in previous years, many of them prisoners of conscience, remained imprisoned. At least 65 political prisoners received prison sentences after unfair trials. Torture of detainees continued and resulted in several deaths. In East Timor, "disappearances" continued. Dozens of people were killed by members of the security forces in suspicious circumstances. Previous cases of "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions remained unresolved. At least 33 people remained under sentence of death. There were no executions. An armed opposition group committed deliberate and arbitrary killings. In May the ruling party, Golkar, won its sixth term of office in elections marked by violence. Presidential elections were scheduled for March 1998. The government faced continued armed opposition from groups seeking independence in East Timor, Irian Jaya and Aceh. Access by international and domestic human rights monitoring organizations to East Timor and Indonesia remained restricted.   The UN Secretary-General appointed a Personal Representative on East Timor who visited Indonesia and East Timor in March and December. In January, following a visit to Portugal to interview East Timorese refugees, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture reported that there were continuing credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment in East Timor. By the end of the year, the Special Rapporteur had not received an invitation from the Indonesian Government to visit Indonesia and East Timor. In April the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution reiterating concern about the human rights situation in East Timor and calling on the Indonesian Government to take steps to implement recommendations contained in earlier resolutions and Chairman's statements, to release East Timorese political detainees, to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on torture to East Timor and to allow for a program officer of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to be located in Jakarta with unhindered access to East Timor. In June the International Labour Organisation's Committee on the Application of Standards expressed concern about continuing restrictions on freedom of association for workers in Indonesia. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas ham) conducted investigations into land and labour disputes, allegations of ill-treatment and unlawful killings. In September Komnas ham announced that of 241 complaints submitted to the authorities since the beginning of the year, only 28 had been resolved. There were no indications that the government had implemented Komnas ham's recommendations in relation to a raid on the Indonesian Democratic Party (pdi) headquarters in July 1996 and no information on the fate of 16 people still believed missing as a result of the raid (see Amnesty International Report 1997). Komnas ham began operations in Dili, East Timor, but its ability to effectively monitor and investigate human rights violations was restricted by extensive military surveillance in the territory. Its Dili office was believed to have intervened in only one alleged "disappearance" in East Timor and was not known to have published any findings on any other investigations it may have conducted. Komnas ham con- tinued to call for the repeal of the Anti-subversion Law At least 300 prisoners of conscience, including labour and political activists, were detained during the year. In March, three members of an unofficial political party, the United Democratic Party, including former member of parliament Sri Bintang Pamungkas, were arrested. Two were released after several weeks, but Sri Bintang Pamungkas was charged with subversion and his trial began in December. Sri Bintang Pamungkas was also serving a 34-month prison sentence for insulting the President (see Amnesty International Report 1997). Fourteen student activists linked to the People's Democratic Party (prd), which was blamed by the authorities for riots in Jakarta in July 1996, were convicted of subversion and expressing hatred towards the government and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 18 months to 13 years (see Amnesty International Report 1997). The nature of the charges and the apparent lack of evidence linking them to any violent criminal activity indicated that the 14, including prd leader Budiman Sudjatmiko, were convicted solely for their peaceful political activities. Komnas ham condemned the use of the Anti-subversion Law against the 14. In September, the government banned the prd The trial of independent labour leader Muchtar Pakpahan, begun in December 1996, was repeatedly postponed because of his ill health. Muchtar Pakpahan remained in custody and began serving a four-year prison sentence reimposed by the Supreme Court, despite the Court's own quashing of the conviction in 1995 (see Amnesty International Reports 1996 and 1997). In July Aberson Marle Sihaloho, a member of parliament and supporter of ousted pdi leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, was convicted of insulting the Head of State and sentenced to nine months' imprisonment Andi Syahputra, who was arrested in October 1996 in connection with the printing of an independent magazine (see Amnesty International Report 1997), was convicted in April of insulting the President and sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment; the charges against Dasrul, who was arrested with Andi Syahputra, were dropped and he was released. Several people were taken into custody in connection with parliamentary and presidential elections. In January, four students were arrested in Central Java for advocating an election boycott. Three other students, arrested in Jakarta, were accused of expressing hostility towards the government and inciting others to break the law for writing graffiti supporting an election boycott in March. In February Slamet Bibit and Faud Chafidin, arrested in April 1996, were each sentenced to two years' imprisonment for exposing election irregularities during the 1992 general election. In September Wimanjaya Liotohe, who nominated himself as Vice-President for the 1998 elections, was arrested on charges of insulting the President. His trial had not begun by the end of the year. In East Timor at least 10 prisoners of conscience continued serving sentences of up to life imprisonment. At least 18 people were sentenced to prison terms for their non-violent activities in support of independence. Seventeen youths were convicted of expressing hatred towards the government during a demonstration in Dili in March and sentenced to terms of imprisonment of up to one year. Also in March, João do Rosario Rangel Pires was sentenced to one year's imprisonment for insulting the President after he displayed a cartoon of President Suharto with human bones in his mouth Hundreds of people, including peaceful activists, were subjected to short-term, arbitrary detention; many were held incommunicado. Twenty-six people were held in custody for three days following a labour rights training workshop in Lampung, South Sumatra. It was not clear whether they would face charges. Hundreds of people were arrested in East Timor following armed attacks by the resistance during the general elections. Most were arrested without warrants and released shortly afterwards. Many were denied access to independent lawyers while in custody. At least 50 people were being tried at the end of the year. In Aceh, dozens of individuals were arrested in connection with alleged links to the armed separatist group Aceh Merdeka. Several were held incommunicado in military custody. At least 208 political prisoners, many of them prisoners of conscience, continued to serve prison sentences imposed in previous years after unfair trials, for links with armed resistance or secessionist groups in East Timor, Irian Jaya and Aceh, and with Islamic and political movements. At least 13 prisoners convicted of involvement in a coup attempt in 1965, remained imprisoned; many were prisoners of conscience and all were imprisoned after unfair trials. All were elderly and most were suffering from serious ill health. Five had been under sentence of death for over 25 years. In May Sukatno, one of the five, died after a long illness. At least 65 political prisoners were sentenced during the year, most after unfair trials. Three men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 12 to 33 months for advocating an Islamic state. At least 15 people were facing trial for their alleged connection to armed separatist activities in Aceh, including six charged with subversion. Their trials began in September and were continuing at the end of the year. Torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including criminal suspects, continued and sometimes resulted in death. In June Komnas ham stated that some of the 184 people arrested in connection with rioting in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, in May had been beaten by police. In September Dani Kuswardhani died in police custody in East Jakarta. The police reported that he was found hanged in police custody, but his family claimed that he had bruising on his back and that his fingernails had been removed. In June, Komaruddin died after he was beaten by four policemen following his arrest in Ujung Pandang. Few investigations were known to have taken place into allegations of torture and ill-treatment. In July a police lieutenant was jailed for nine months and 10 days after being found responsible for the death from torture of Tjetje Tadjudin in October 1996 (see Amnesty International Report 1997). The police officer reportedly admitted during his trial to having beaten Tjetje Tadjudin and subjected him to electric shocks. There were continuing reports of "disappearances" in East Timor. João Baptista "disappeared" following his arrest in May by the military. He was accused of having links with the armed resistance. By the end of the year, his whereabouts remained unknown There were reports of extrajudicial executions of alleged members of Aceh Merdeka. Abu Salam, who was alleged to have been involved in a bank robbery reportedly carried out by Aceh Merdeka, was shot dead by soldiers in March in North Aceh. He was believed to have been unarmed at the time. In July Muhammad Thaib was shot dead in Pidie, Aceh, by 10 unknown men wearing uniforms and believed to be linked to the military There were reports of extrajudicial executions in East Timor. It was not possible to confirm many of the allegations because of restrictions on access for human rights monitors. In February Fernando Lopes died after he was shot in Dili during a curfew, allegedly by members of the armed forces. Fernando Lopes was believed to have been deliberately targeted by the military because of his alleged links with the resistance Despite statements by the national police authorities that there was no policy to shoot alleged criminals on sight, several criminal suspects were shot dead by police in suspicious circumstances, prompting concern that they may have been unlawfully killed. More people were shot dead by police in Jakarta in the first six months of the year than during the whole of 1996. In February the East Java military authorities stated that criminals who ignored official warnings would be shot on the spot. Previous reports of extrajudicial executions and "disappearances" remained unresolved. In November the prosecution dropped charges against Dwi Sumarji. He had been accused of the murder in August 1996 of journalist Faud Muhammad Syarfuddin who was killed, allegedly because of his investigations of local government corruption (see Amnesty International Report 1997). Dwi Sumarji had been held incommunicado by the police who offered him bribes to confess to the killing. It was not clear if the police were continuing to investigate the death of Faud Muhammad Syarfuddin. In September the police announced that the investigation into the murder in 1993 of labour activist Marsinah (see Amnesty International Reports 1994 to 1996)wasclosedowingtolackofevidence, despite earlier statements from Komnas ham that individuals other than those originally tried for her murder, and ultimately acquitted, were involved in her death At least 33 people remained under sentence of death at the end of the year. Six people were sentenced to death during the year, including Second Lieutenant Sanurip, a member of the Special Forces Command, convicted in April by a military tribunal of murdering 16 people in April 1996. Evidence of his state of mental health was ignored during his trial. Two East Timorese men were sentenced to death in December after being convicted of murder, separatist activities and illegal possession of firearms. They were the first East Timorese to be sentenced to death since Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. No executions were carried out There were reports of deliberate and arbitrary killings by the East Timorese National Liberation Army, Falintil. The majority of the reports could not be verified because of restrictions on access for human rights monitors imposed by the Indonesian Government. In May an alleged informer, Miguel Baptismo da Silva, and his wife, Du-Lequi, were shot dead by the armed resistance in Baucau Amnesty International repeatedly appealed for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoners of conscience, for the review of cases of political prisoners imprisoned after unfair trials, and for urgent steps to be taken to end torture, extrajudicial executions and the use of the death penalty. Amnesty International published Indonesia: The Anti-subversion Law – a briefing in February; Indonesia: The prd prisoners – a summary of Amnesty International's concerns in October; and East Timor: Truth, justice and redress in November. In a statement to the UN Commission on Human Rights in April, Amnesty International included reference to its concerns in both Indonesia and East Timor. In an oral statement to the UN Special Committee on Decolonization in June, Amnesty International described its concerns regarding East Timor and called for the establishment of human rights monitoring and investigative mechanisms. Amnesty International publicly condemned deliberate and arbitrary killings by Falintil.

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