Mon, 24 Jan 2000

Trial for criminal, not a monument

We have to understand that everyone is entitled their opinions but, sometimes, it is very difficult. For instance, Pak Y. Santo in his letter in The Jakarta Post on Jan. 12, 2000, is either an extremely gullible man or has some hidden agenda.

As I have pointed out before in these columns, no one in an army can say "I was only obeying orders" as an excuse for atrocities. For many years now, even politicians have had to agree that where people have been tortured and killed for no other reason than to preserve a dictator in power, then, once proved by an international commission, the people responsible are liable to arrest and to be brought to trial for their acts.

Prabowo has himself admitted that he has ordered, and probably even taken part in, atrocities, including torture and murder. No amount of saying sorry, no amount of saying he was only obeying orders, no amount of saying his men were angry (as if they were children, with no self-control) is sufficient. In fact, there is no excuse for such acts; they are the acts of monsters and sadists with whom it is dangerous for the rest of us to live.

I was enraged when I saw that Prabowo, either through bribery or with the help of those who think that, by helping him, it will do them some good in the future, had been allowed to get back into Indonesia and out again without being detained. He is, at the very least, an accessory to murder and his evidence is needed to bring to justice all those responsible -- including the men above him who, tacitly or actively, ordered him to carry out those horrific crimes.

If Pak Santo's opinion is shared by many in Indonesia, then we have every need to pray to God for all our safeties. According to Santo, we are supposed to think that Prabowo is some kind of holy man for having admitted responsibility for atrocities, and then goes on to compare such acts with the civil crimes of some bank director who was unable to prove that others committed the crimes with him.

Let me ask you, Pak Santo, which would you prefer to lose: Your bank balance or the life of your son on whom you have spent so much effort and given so much love to send him to university and to see him stand tall as a man? That bank director has only taken your money, while Prabowo has taken out your heart. Every one of the mothers and the fathers and the wives and the children of all the people he is responsible for killing should demand the most severe punishment for what he has done. And yet you, figuratively, want to erect a monument to him! What sort of values do you live by? No! Prabowo must be brought to justice and all the other murderers who have walked this country as free and honored men for the past 30 years. We must rid ourselves of every last one of them, even if it means the near destruction of our governing class; only then can we be justified in our pride in Indonesia.


Cianjur, West Java