Tue, 09 May 2000

Army denies link with July 27 incident

BANDUNG (JP): Army Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto said on Monday that the Army had no official link with the unrest that spread through Central Jakarta on July 27, 1996.

Speaking after briefing enrollees at the Army Staff and Command School (Seskoad) here on Monday, Tyasno said the Army, as a component of the country's defense and security, only carried out its duties just as it did in Aceh, East Timor, Irian Jaya and Kalimantan.

"Operationally, the Army just followed instructions. There was a legal basis in the hands of Army Headquarters," he said without elaborating.

"What the Army did was follow national policy. Therefore, any violations were considered as being committed by individuals. Every Indonesian Military (TNI) institution bases its moves on the framework of state duties."

He said explanations were expected from both military and civilian officials who were in positions to know what happened.

"Only in this way will we clearly learn what really happened."

Separately, incumbent Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) chairman Budi Hardjono called on both the government and the National Police to work on arresting the masterminds of the July 27 incident, and not just the "small-fry".

"The police arrested only people from PDI, and the true masterminds from the military are being questioned only as witnesses," Budi said at the National Police Headquarters after visiting former PDI chairman Soerjadi, who has been detained in connection with the case.

"It is a great disappointment, that people like Syarwan (retired Lt. Gen. Syarwan Hamid) and Sutiyoso (retired Lt. Gen. Sutiyoso) were only questioned as witnesses, and were not even detained for further questioning," he said.

He was referring to the former Armed Forces (ABRI) chief of sociopolitical affairs and the former Jakarta military commander when the incident occurred, respectively.

Budi added that former president Soeharto should also be called in for questioning, since he must have known of the plan before its execution.

"Any government official or leader, or any military officer who is believed to have been involved in this incident should be called in for questioning, at the very least," Budi said.

"If the police are truly serious about getting some answers to this whole incident, that's the only way."

The National Commission on Human Rights recorded that five people died, 149 were injured and 23 went missing in the unrest which followed the forcible takeover of PDI headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro from the hands of supporters of chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri. Megawati is the incumbent Vice President. (25/sur/ylt)