74 still missing after riot says Jakarta rights group
The Australian, Sept 2 1996,
Patrick Walters slightly abridged
Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission says in an interim report that 5 people died , 149 were injured and ,crucially, that 74 are still missing as a result of the July 27 rioting in Jakarta.
The commission's full report on the July riots is expected to be issued later this week. It will endeavour to explain the cause of the July 27 riots which followed the storming of the PDI headquarters in Jakarta by police.
The casualty figures announced on Saturday conflict with Govt figures which only admit that 4 died and that fewer than 30 were injured. The authorities have released no figures for those subsequently reported missing.
'We decided to announce the provisional findings today because people keep asking why the commission has taken so long to come out with its results', the Secretary-General of the Commission, Mr Barahuddin Lopa said on Saturday.
Asked about the 74 missing, Mr Lopa said they 'could be dead or they are afraid to return home or they are taking a break'.
THe commission, a govt appointed body, is still cross-checking evidence on the 74 listed as missing to try to establish their whereabouts. As well as the dead and injured, the July disturbances left 22 buildings, including govt. offices, banks and car showroms destroyed or badly damaged in Central Jakarta.
The vice-chairman of the Commission, Mr Marzuki Darusman, told the Austrlian yesterday he believed that the death toll was unlikely to increase in spite of continued rumours in Jakarta that many more people had lost their lives in the riots.
According to Mr Darusman, 6 weeks of probing by Komnas had failed to find any conclusive evidence that more lives had been lost. The toll of 5 is one more than that cited by an army spokesman.
The fifth fatality, a 30 year old man named Sarian, had met his death in circumstances that were 'rather unexplainable'. None of the dead had been a PDI activist.
Mr Darusman said that the investigations into those said to be missing had proved particularly difficult. "People keep coming to the Commission with all sorts of figures. Those issued by the Govt are not entirely believed'. He said that the difficulties of establishing exact figures for those people cited as missing underlined the 'mistrust of public institutions' by ordinary people. Relatives of those involved were reluctant to approach the Commission. 'This may indicate the possibility of further deaths but we can't be sure of that', Mr Darusman said. 'We will be taking up with the Govt why they did not follow up with an announcement on the number of those people considered to be missing'. Mr Darusman said the commissin had been given full access to hospitals where the dead and injured had been taken. He denied that the authorities had put pressure on the commission to present its findings in a particular way.
* One of Indonesia's best-known writers & founding editor of the banned Tempo magazine, Goenawan Mohammad, has been summoned for questioning by the Attorney-General's office tomorrow in connection with the GOvts investigation into the PRD party and other. He attended the official launch of PRD as a political party on July 22nd.