Now, they're looking for the 'brains'

By: Tapol

After lambasting the PRD as the 'mastermind' of the riots on 27 July, the regime now seems to have come to the conclusion that a young fellow like Budiman could not have been the 'mastermind' after all. Hence the hunt is now on for 'the brains' behind the PRD. So far, the choice seems to have fallen on a Jesuit priest, Father Ignatius Sandyawan Sumardi who, according to Republika on 14 August, mysteriously 'disappeared' after Budiman and colleagues were arrested.

The paper ran a report full of insinuations about Father Sandyawan, who runs a group call ISJ, the Jakarta Social Institute. Attempts to find him at the house of the Institute proved fruitless as the office was locked up and neighbours said they had no idea where he had gone. The priest was said to be known as a protector of Budiman and others. His Institute was run by a team of volunteers whose focus recently was on checking reports by families about relatives who were unaccounted for since the 27 July attack on the PDI office.

General Faisal was in this connection as saying, in his usual vague but pointed style: 'I cant say for sure but its possible there's diehard behind Budiman and his friends. We must find out who this is so as to prevent more Sudjatmikos from emerging. One army official said those who had been arrested were only 'the first line'; other lines had not yet been caught. Brig.General Amir Syarifuddin agreed that there must be someone else running the show. Documents from DN Aidit (chairman of the outlawed PKI) from back in 1951 had been found speaking about the 'tip of the iceberg'.

Even higher up, General Hartono, army chief of staff said it wasn't possible that the PRD was responsible for everything. 'There has to be someone with the brains'. He agreed that PRD people might not have direct links with the old PKI but they certainly must have read communist literature. Kompas report A day later, Kompas, had a more measured report about the priest, Sandyawan. In fact, he had not disappeared at all. [Kompas is a Catholic paper while Republika is the paper of ICMI, the Muslim intellectuals organisation run by Dr Habibie.] On Tuesday, he held a press conference at the headquarters of the Legal Aid Institute.

Sandyawan, Director of the Social Institute, accomapnied by Muslim leader Abdurrachman Wahid, denied that he had ever disappeared. One reason for holding the press conference was to clarify things, following accusations against Sadyawan because he had helped Budiman and others to secure a safe house for them with his brother, Benny Sumardi. Benny Sumardi is now also in custody. 'I would plead with the authorities to free him quickly and let him return home to his wife and children. He knows nothing about Budiman and friends and he only gave them refuge at my request,' said Father Sandyawan. He dismissed allegations that he was the 'brains' behind the PRD.

He also vigorously denied that his team of volunteers had been working covertly. 'We work openly, for everyone to see.' He believes that he likely to be arrested soon. Some unidentified people had come to see him but he refused to deal with them because they bore no documents. He has consulted with several lawyers and with a member of the National Commission for Human Rights to decide whether to present himself to the authorities. According to a second report by Republika on 15 August, the press conference was opened by Abdurrachman Wahid who explained that Father Sandyawan's original intention was to hold the press conference at the headquarters of his organisation, the Nahdlatul Ulama. This was not possible, said Wahid, because the office could not be used for non-NU related matters. Wahid, also known as Gus Dur, said he was one of the team of volunteers working for the Jakarta Social Institute. 'I agreed to take part because the aims are humanitarian, not political' he said.

Father Sandyawan explained that his team has been focusing on trying to find out what has happened to all the people unaccounted for since 27 July. We have prepared a statement explaining how difficult it has been to collect data about the casualties, getting access to hospitals or checking any information. A number of people make up the team, he said, including Clementino do Amaral, member of the National Commission, Gus Dur's Democracy Forum, the Legal Aid Institute and the women's organisation, Kalyanamitra. He also said that he believed that a warrant for his arrest has already been issued by armed forces headquarters. Someone had visited his office, shown him the warrant but had then left. He did not know which law was quoted in the warrant. For his team of lawyers, Bambang Widjoyanto said they were still considering what advice to give him. A warrant from the armed forces headquarters is not in compliance with proper procedures. It should come either from the police or the Attorney Geneal's office, he said.

Aug 15, 1996

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