INDONESIA: Sign petition for attorney general to bring justice to May 1998 riot victims


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-23-2002
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of association, Freedom of expression, Impunity,

Sign petition for attorney general to bring justice to May 1998 riot victims
INDONESIA: Denial of right to adequate remedy for victims of systematic gross human rights violations


The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has prepared an online petition to call on the attorney general of Indonesia to finally act to deliver justice to the victims of the May 1998 riot, an incident infamous throughout the world for severe sexual violence targeting Chinese Indonesians. You can sign this petition, which is available in English and Bahasa Indonesia and which already has about 300 signatories, at the following site: <>.

Below we provide some background information, findings from various commissions of inquiry, the latest news about the inquiries and a copy of the petition itself. We urge you to send word of this petition to others as widely as possible so that the pain of the victims can finally be eased.


Four years ago the thousands of victims of the May riots of 1998 should have seen the perpetrators of the rapes, murders and destruction of property in court. Four years ago the new ¡°democratic¡± government should have been consulting the victims to determine how to provide adequate compensation and reparation for the State’s role in the devastation. Four years ago the attorney general should have ensured that enough evidence was gathered to bring the masterminds of this crime to justice.

The attorney general, however, has thus far chosen to do nothing. In the face of such intransigence, high-profile citizens took it upon themselves to form a Joint Fact-Finding Team (TGPF) to investigate the incident, and they presented their findings to the attorney general. The attorney general though refused to act on the findings, as they did not come with official parliamentary sanction. Recently, however, an official investigation (known as KPP HAM TSS, an Indonesian acronym for the Commission to Investigate the Human Rights Violations of the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II Incidents) into three incidents that occurred about the same time affirmed that the original findings and recommendations should be acted on.

Still the attorney general says he will do nothing unless another official investigation is opened specifically for the ¡°May riot¡± incidents. Such a commission of inquiry is currently being established by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), but this should not excuse the attorney general whose role in bringing perpetrators to justice is vital in establishing human rights in Indonesia. If the attorney general does not act, no rights can be implemented. The attorney general must accept responsibility for not even attempting to deliver justice to the victims of the May 1998 riots.


A highly credible, independent investigation into the May 1998 riots, known as TGPF (Joint Fact-Finding Team), verified the following number of deaths and damage:

– 1,188 people killed

– 101 people suffered serious injuries

– 40 shopping centres burnt

– 2,479 houses and shops destroyed

– 1,119 cars destroyed

– 1,026 civil houses destroyed

– 383 offices destroyed

– Unknown number of rape cases

Thorough investigations by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also verified at least 52 cases of serious sexual violence in which ethnic Chinese women were the main targets. In addition, the following four people were kidnapped in related incidents:

1. Yadin Muhidin, male(23), in Senen, Central Jakarta

2. Addun Nasir, male(33), in Lippo Karawaci, Tangerang

3. Hendra Hambali, male(19), in Glodok Plaza, Jakarta

4. Ucok Siahaan, male(22)

The hopes of the Indonesian people that the end of authoritarian rule would bring justice have been dashed by the inaction of the attorney general¡¯s office, which has had the official government report and recommendations since 1999 but has so far failed to properly investigate the case nor bring any form of justice to the thousands who suffered in this tragedy. Credible claims that senior military and government officials were involved in planning gross human rights violations perpetrated during the May 1998 riots have been ignored, making possible further atrocities and incidents of communal violence which still rage today.

In July 2000, former Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said, ¡°I think the final investigation can start in one week provided that the commission submits the report to my office.¡± Referring to the TGPF report, he added, ¡°What¡¯s in the reports is all valid. That is exactly what happened during the May [1998] riots.¡±

Now it is June 2002, and an official government investigation, KPP HAM TSS, has presented the results of its investigation into three incidents that occurred at about the same time. KPP HAM also included the recommendations of the TGPF report in its findings, but now the attorney general¡¯s office has refused to accept the report because of technicalities, such as the type of paper it was written on. It is clear to all outside of the attorney general¡¯s office that the investigation was the responsibility of the attorney general in the first place, and to make such feeble excuses and ask the parliamentary committee to do every last detail of the criminal investigation for his office is proof that his office is not willing to prosecute the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes involving the political and military elite of Indonesia.


Please sign the petition we created in English and Bahasa Indonesia at the following link: <>. You can click onto it or copy and paste it onto your browser.

You can also write directly to the attorney general and to Komnas HAM to call for immediate action after four long years of inaction:

Kejaksaan Agung (Attorney General)

Muhamad Abdurrachman

Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin 1

Kebayoran Baru

Jakarta 12130


Tel: +62 21 722-1337 or 722-1388

Fax: +62 21 725-0166 or 720-8557


Mr. Asmara Nababan

General Secretary

Komnas HAM

Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B

Jakarta Pusat 10310


Tel: +62 21 392-5230

Fax: +62 21 392-5227



(The ‘May 1998 riots’ refer to the mass killings, sexual violence and destruction of property throughout Indonesia on May 13-15, 1998; ‘Trisakti¡¯ refers to the shooting of students at Trisakti University in Jakarta on May 12, 1998; ¡®Semanggi I and II¡¯ refers to the killing of activists on May 12-14, 1998, and Nov. 23-24, 1998.)

The commission of inquiry into the human rights violations of Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II (KPP HAM TSS) was established based on a mandate from Komnas HAM that was clearly stated in the chief of the National Committee of Human Rights¡¯ decision letter No. 034/KOMNAS HAM/ II/2001 dated Aug. 27, 2001.

The scope of KPP HAM TSS¡¯s duties was to collect facts and find data and information on human rights violations which took place in the Trisakti (May 12, 1998), Semanggi I (May 13-14, 1998) and Semanggi II (Nov. 23-24, 1998) incidents. All data and information collected was then to be analysed based on national laws and relevant international laws.

The main consideration of Komnas HAM in establishing KPP HAM TSS was that there was a strong indication that human rights had been violated, causing the death of students and other civilians.

Based on that written mandate and on Article 89, Paragraph (3), of Act. No 39/1999 on Human Rights and Article 19 of Act. No. 26/2000 on the Court of Human Rights, KPP HAM TSS began its official duties.

The report reveals the background of the students’ action; the chronology and the facts; the victims, perpetrators and the typology of perpetrators; and the legal process that has been taken.

KPP HAM TSS also referred to the May riots which took place during the same period of time: May 13¡©15, 1998. The report says, ¡°On May 13¡©15, 1998, in every big city, especially Jakarta, Solo, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Palembang, there occurred mass conflict provoked by certain groups. These caused riots, and the targets were shopping centres, public services, government offices (such as police stations) and other commercial centres. They were burnt or pillaged. In Jakarta, the issue was based on race, ethnicity and the economy and became known as the Tragedy of the May Riots of 1998.¡±

KPP HAM TSS also mentioned the TGPF and finalised six recommendations (KPP report, p. 33). It also mentioned that there had been systematic killings in the May 1998 riots in the section of the report entitled ¡°Forms of Crime on Human Rights¡± (KPP report, p. 96). In the concluding chapter, point No. 1 noted that the report from TGPF is also one of the main documents used by KPP HAM TSS.

One of the recommendations stated in this report, point No. 4, is to push the government, through the attorney general, to immediately conduct an investigation on the May 1998 riots as recommended in the TGPF report (KPP report, p. 126).

Even after the recommendation from TGPF, this KPP final report also only offered recommendations. What further action is to be taken depends on the ¡°good will¡± of the government. On April 30, 2002, this final report of KPP HAM TSS was presented to the attorney general.


1. Ask Komnas HAM to hand over all investigation reports on Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II cases to the attorney general so that further action will be taken in the form of an official investigation as mentioned in Act No. 26/2000 regarding the Court of Human Rights.

2. Ask the government to immediately take law enforcement and administrative action against all state apparatuses, especially members of TNI and POLRI who obstructed the course of justice during the investigation of the incidents.

3. Ask the government and legislature (DPR) to accelerate the process of reconfiguring the TNI into a state apparatus, whose duty is to protect the country¡¯s citizens, and to eliminate all other TNI functions.

4. Push the government, through the attorney general, to immediately conduct an investigation into the May 1998 riots as recommended by the Joint Fact-Finding Team.

5. Ask the government and legislature (DPR) to ratify international human rights instruments for the promotion and protection of human rights, including, but not limited to, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its First Optional Protocol and to enshrine them into Indonesian domestic law by enacting the required legislation.

6. Ask the government, as one of the states to have ratified the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, to provide protection and security to the victims, human rights workers and human rights defenders.


From our local partners, AHRC has learned that the final report of KPP HAM TSS, which was submitted to the attorney general, has been returned to Komnas HAM. According to Barman Zahir, the chief of the law and information section, the investigator has to report all investigations by making a journal of the investigations. He says the report provided by Komnas HAM is unclear – they are only transcripts – and does not explain who the investigators are and in what capacity they are acting.

The general secretary of Komnas HAM, Asmara Nababan, thinks returning the report is quite normal – nothing significant. Asmara admits that Komnas HAM needs to perfect the report and says it will be done within 30 days. Thus, the final report is due to be handed back on June 20, 2002, at the latest.

In addition to returning the final report of KPP HAM TSS, the attorney general also refused to take further action on the findings and recommendations of TGPF. Barman Zahir said that the investigation team, which was once lead by Marzuki Darusman, was not an official investigation yet. He clarified that the attorney general would only be concerned with three events investigated by Komnas HAM: Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II. The attorney general would only look into the May 1998 riots once Komnas HAM has made an investigation report on this incident.

However, in its recommendations, Komnas HAM also asks the attorney general to take further action on the TGPF recommendations regarding the May 1998 riots, reasoning that the May 1998 riots were interrelated with the Trisakti human rights violations. (To see the final report of TGPF¡¯s recommendations, you can click on these links: <> in English or <> in Bahasa Indonesia.)

Former chief of KPP HAM TSS, Albert Hasibuan, declared that the statement will bring pressure on Komnas HAM itself to establish a KPP HAM for the May 1998 riots. Mr. Hasibuan also declared that, if it proved necessary to establish such an inquiry, then the findings from TGPF would be the main basis for this KPP HAM.

On June 4, 2002, Komnas HAM gathered in a plenary session to discuss the returned dossier; and in their conclusion, they decided to establish a KPP HAM for the May 1998 riots. Some concern now exists that members of the security forces may join this investigation team, severely compromising its integrity among the victims of the May 1998 riots. AHRC’s petition below calls for civil society, and not the security apparatus, to be included in the KPP HAM for the May 1998 riots while still calling on the attorney general to cease his present stalling tactics and conduct his own inquiry that leads to prosecutions at the highest level of responsibility for these gross human rights violations.


Attorney General Must End Four Years of Suffering for Victims of the May 1998 Riots, Trisakti and Semanggi!

The four years of suffering by the victims and their families must end! We cannot tolerate any longer the excuses of the attorney general of Indonesia for providing impunity to violators of gross human rights abuses! This is a call for justice and for reform in the name of human rights and democracy.

1. We demand that the attorney general take up his responsibility and immediately investigate all crimes, in particular the May 1998 riots and the Trisakti and Semanggi I and II incidents, which have been ignored for four years. The attorney general now has two in-depth investigation reports at his disposal into these incidents: the TGPF findings and the KPP HAM TSS findings. We demand that the attorney general stop intentionally delaying justice for the thousands of victims of these tragic incidents and begin an investigation immediately as recommended in these reports.

2. We demand that the attorney general expeditiously bring to court all perpetrators of crimes during the May 1998 riots and the Trisakti and Semanggi incidents, including those responsible for murder, rape, sexual and other types of assault, kidnappings, torture, destruction of property and the failure of public officials to provide security for their citizens.

3. We demand that, in addition to immediate action by the attorney general to investigate further the Trisakti and Semanggi incidents, Komnas HAM finishes the report of KPP HAM TSS at once and submits it to the attorney general to ensure they have done all in their power to assist the attorney general to convict the perpetrators of the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II incidents.

4. We demand that, in addition to immediate action by the attorney general to investigate further the May 1998 riots, Komnas HAM establish a KPP HAM on the May 1998 riots to ascertain the veracity of the TGPF findings. This KPP HAM must refuse to include in its membership any of those who may be considered suspects in the cases, in particular members of the military command and the government at the time of the incidents, such as Lt. Gen. Prabowo and Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin. Members of civil society who have been fighting for justice for the victims these past four years must be included in the KPP HAM.

5. We demand that the government guarantee security for the witnesses and victims by making a regulation to this effect.

6. We demand that the government provide rehabilitation and compensation to all victims and their families. The government must also make it easier for the victims to obtain their legal documents, such as their ID cars.

7. We demand that the government ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and immediately implement both conventions through legal regulations and by prosecutions for those responsible for acts of discrimination and torture.

8. We demand that the government work to eliminate all forms of ¡°premanism¡± (use of hired thugs to create terror and insecurity) and disband all of the armed, violent and criminal civilian militia groups operating in Indonesia in keeping with the responsibilities it agreed to undertake in the UN/ Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

You can sign this petition online at <>.

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-23-2002
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of association, Freedom of expression, Impunity,