News / Asia

Indonesian Torture Victim Disputes New Claim of Innocence

FILE - Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto
FILE - Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto
Andy Lala
A man who says he was a victim of torture during the regime of former Indonesian president Suharto is disputing a revelation from a former general that casts blame away from current presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

Mugiyanto says in an interview with the VOA's Indonesian service Wednesday that the statement by former major general Kivlan Zen does not exonerate Prabowo, who is running for president this year.

“Prabowo said that he kidnapped or arrested nine people, including me.  According to me this [action] is contrary to sound and humane thinking. Prabowo who at that time was head of the Kopassus [special forces] and the Rose Team did not take us into protective custody.  Prabowo interrogated and tortured us inhumanely.  We were put in a situation where there was practically no boundary between living or dying.  No one would have intervened if we were killed at that time," said Mugiyanto.

Mugiyanto was one of nine student activists who were released in 1998 after being tortured, allegedly by members of a military special forces unit known as the Rose Team, which fell under the command of then - Lieutenant General Prabowo.  Thirteen others who were detained by the unit have never been found.

But former general Kivlan Zen this week caused a stir when he said the 13 missing were killed by a different group.

"Soon after [they were freed by the Rose Team], they were rearrested unbeknownst to us.  They could have been captured by double agents.  They may be the enemies of [former president] Suharto and Prabowo," said Zen.

He did not provide further details, but said he is prepared to testify before the National Commission for Human Rights, known as Komnas HAM, or the attorney general's office.

Human rights groups, while casting doubt on the claim, are urging Komnas HAM and the attorney general to summon Kivlan Zen for questioning.

Haris Azhar, from the Commission for Mission People and Violent Acts, says it is vital for Komnas HAM and the attorney general to pursue justice.  

“It is important for the attorney general’s office and the National Commission of Human Rights to come to an agreement to reach a solution. It would be ridiculous for those two institutions would to be involved in administrative legalese and ignored the rights of the victims.  If by the start of the [presidential] elections these two bodies still fail to take actions, then we can say that they are part of the forced disappearances," said Azhar.

However, Komnas HAM Commissioner Nurkholis says that his agency considers its investigation final and that it is now in the hands of the attorney general's office, which has not commented on the new allegations.

Prabowo, who is considered a leading candidate for president this year, was removed from his military post in 1998 after a council of generals found it likely that he knew about the kidnapping operations conducted by his special forces troops, known as Kopassus, in Indonesia.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs