Wed, 23 Aug 2000

City to assist grave exhumation of Priok victims

JAKARTA (JP): The City Administration is ready to assist the National Commission on Human Rights with its plan to exhume graves believed to contain victims of the bloody 1984 incident in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, an official said on Tuesday.

Deputy Governor on Public Affairs Djailani said he had yet to receive a formal notification over the plan to exhume the graves, but stressed that the administration would support the plan.

"We are ready to help the rights commission by setting procedural guidelines for the implementation of the plan," he told The Jakarta Post at City Hall.

Djailani stressed the need to hold meetings in order to discuss the detailed procedures with the parties involved, such as the rights commission, before initiating the exhumation process.

A member of the rights commission, locally termed Komnas HAM, Maj. Gen. (ret) Koesparmono Irsan revealed on Aug. 11 the plan to exhume eight of the 22 graves, which are believed to contain the remains of victims killed during the bloody 1984 Tanjung Priok incident.

The commission, he said, planned to start exhuming these graves later in August. However, it has yet to decide on a precise date.

The decision was made after a team from the commission succeeded in obtaining detailed information on the remains.

Koesparmono added that the team has secured the approval of Governor Sutiyoso to exhume the graves, as required by a city regulation.

The Sept. 12, 1984 incident concerns clashes between civilians and military personnel which allegedly erupted following emotionally charged sermons at Tanjung Priok's Rawa Badak Mosque which were delivered by preachers who were reportedly criticizing the government.

The commission stressed that the remains of the victims would constitute important evidence in helping it to complete its findings so that they could be submitted to the Attorney General's Office.

The commission's preliminary findings on the Tanjung Priok incident, which was buried for years under former president Soeharto's rule, have already been handed over to the Attorney General's Office.

The military claimed 23 people were killed and 60 were injured during the incident. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses said that they saw a truck loaded with charred corpses.

Djailani said prior preparations were needed so as to ensure a smooth exhumation process, stressing that such preparations would cover the legal aspects and technical procedures for the exhumations.

"We need to know how the plan will develop and the proposed locations where the exhumations will be carried out," he said.

"We do not have that information in detail yet," Djailani added. (lup)