Tue, 21 Nov 2000

Remains of slain ex-communist activists found in Wonosobo

JAKARTA (JP): A joint team formed by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the Indonesian Institute for the Study of the 1965/1966 Massacre (YPKP) has uncovered the remains of some 24 people linked to the outlawed Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in Wonosobo, Central Java.

YPKP's attorney Esther Indahyani Jusuf said the remains were unearthed from a mass grave in Situkup forest in Dempes village, some 80 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital of Semarang, in three sorties.

All the bones have been kept in the Sardjito state hospital in Yogyakarta. Forensic doctors at the hospital are ready to examine the remains, pending a formal request from families who had claimed that their relatives went missing in the aftermath of the abortive coup blamed on PKI in 1965.

Reports said thousands were killed in a military-backed crackdown on alleged communist supporters. In his capacity as Nahdlatul Ulama chairman, President Abdurrahman Wahid apologized last year for the involvement of the Muslim organization's activists in the bloodbath.

Esther told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the bones were believed to belong to political prisoners who were moved from Yogyakarta to Wonosobo prison on February 26, 1966.

"We suspect they were killed on March 3, 1966 because from that day on they disappeared and never returned." Esther said.

Last week's findings is a culmination of a six-year investigation, which also recommended more excavations in Blora and Yogyakarta, according to Esther.

She said among the remains unearthed on Friday were "Sudjijem", a female.

"The name 'Sudjijem' was engraved on a wedding ring on a finger bone we found among the skeletons along with the date '26- 6-1965'," she said, adding that Sudjijem was probably 24 when she died.

Esther said the excavation on Friday was made following a plea by Wonosobo resident Sri Muhayati, whose father Muhadi were among those who disappeared from Wonosobo prison.

She added that 20 other people claimed to have lost their relatives in the same way Muhayati's father did. They include Endang Dwi Astuti who is seeking her father Sandiwijoyo, Suwarsono who is seeking his father Tondosuprapto and Mrs. Sarbini Purwowihardjo who is seeking her son Ibnu Santoro, a former lecturer of Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta.

Esther also said a 72-year-old man who asked for anonymity, had informed YPKP that he was ordered to dig a mass grave in 1966 by security personnel.

Meanwhile, chief of the hospital forensic installation Seogandhi said he received on Sunday night five wooden boxes full of bones and one empty box from YPKP activists.

He estimated the bones came from at least 18 bodies.

Soegandhi said it would take 10 days to complete the identification of the remains.

Meanwhile, noted historian Anhar Gonggong urged the government to seriously speed up the rehabilitation of families related to members of the communist party.

"This nation should free its citizens from fear and violence. We should be united in our various cultures, races, religions, languages and even beliefs," Anhar said in an address to attendees of a reconciliation dialog at Atmajaya University on Monday.(44/01/edt)