Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Indonesia: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call for the release of prisoners of conscience

Download PDFDownload PDF

amnesty international australia

media release l _________________________________ ; 4 June 1998 _________________________________________

e / P* G -

Indonesia:^Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call for the release of Prisoners of Conscience .

In a report released today, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch support the demands of Indonesian human rights groups for the government to immediately release all prisoners of conscience and to review the convictions against all political prisoners accused of using violence.

“President Habibie has come to power on the wave o f demands for fundamental reform,” the two organisatons said. “He must demonstrate an immediate commitment to human rights by substantive prisoner releases and by repealing the repressive laws which were used over the last three decades to imprison peaceful opposition activists.”

“Releasing four high profile political prisoners is a welcome gesture, but dozens o f others remain in jail. President Habibie must go much further if his government is to gain the trust o f the Indonesian people on its program o f reform."

Indonesia’s prisons still hold at least 47 Indonesians and East Timorese detained for their peaceful opposition to the Suharto Government They include five East Timorese men accused of organising the march to Santa Cruz cemetery in November 1991; 12 students imprisoned for their affiliation with a banned political organisation; a community organiser in Tasikmalaya; several university lecturers from Aceh; and the organisers o f peaceful pro-independence demonstrations in Irian Jaya.

Another priority for release must be the 13 elderly men detained for their alleged links to the banned Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI) — some of whom have been imprisoned for over three decades. All of these men had trials that were unfair by international standards and many are suffering severe health problems.

Some 170 people have been imprisoned for alleged involvement in violent political activities — including those from Aceh, Irian Jaya, and East Timor, the three areas where armed insurgencies are active, and those accused o f trying to establish an Islamic state. According to the two human rights organisations, many o f them were tried and convicted on the basis of information extracted by torture or without adequate access to counsel. -

“The Habibie government should immediately demonstrate that such practices are no longer consistent with a nation seeking genuine reform and that the government is willing to address past wrongs by giving these people the opportunity to have their convictions reviewed by an independent body which meets international standards o f fairness and impartiality,” the two organisations said.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also called on the government to step up efforts to find the Indonesian activists still “disappeared” and prosecute those found responsible for the spate of “disappearances” prior to the March 1998 presidential elections.

The 19-page report, plus 7 lists, is available from Amnesty International’s International Australia. +612 9217 7640 or For comment, please phone Tony O’Connor +617 3875 7440.