Sat, 15 May 2004

'No officials apologized for riots'

The May 1998 riots that led to the downfall of president Soeharto have never been fully investigated, despite reports that thousands of people were killed and dozens of women, mostly Chinese-Indonesians, raped. The Jakarta Post spoke with several residents about the issue.

Dorothy Sinambela, 32, is a mother of two and a member of a non-governmental organization working for social development. She lives in East Jakarta:

The leaders of this nation should clarify what happened during the May 1998 tragedy, because it is maybe the bleakest period in this nation's history. Everyone watched as thousands of people were killed and harassed, but no one took responsibility.

There should be a place or a forum that can serve as a catharsis for everyone who has repressed their anger and pain for the last six years. After all, the tragedy was a collective experience for the nation, not just the victims.

Najya, 27, is a graduate student at a private university in West Jakarta. She lives in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta:

I urge the government to take legal action against those who were responsible for security (during the riots).

I have never heard any of those high-ranking officials or officers who were supposed to protect the people apologize for their failure to prevent the rioting, arson and killing of people.

No one can deny that those days of violence will remain in people's minds no matter how hard we try to forget them, especially because the tragedy, ironically, brought us to the era of reform.

If the presidential candidates are smart enough to see what is going on in the nation, they can win by campaigning for an investigation into the bloody tragedy, which would be followed by a reconciliation among the people.

--The Jakarta Post