Sun, 11 May 2003

Trisakti mother still hopes for justice

Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Five years have passed since four students from Trisakti University were shot to death in front of their campus on May 12, 1998, but justice has been elusive for their families.

Elang Mulya Lesmana, Hafidhin Royan, Hendriawan Sie and Hery Hartanto became martyrs in the movement which triggered the downfall of Soeharto.

The same injustice is also felt by other parents whose children were killed in student rallies in front of Atma Jaya University. That incident -- claimed the lives of 12 students and civilians -- and is now referred to as Black Friday.

To this day, the parents' spirit for justice remains high although the House of Representatives (DPR) determined that the killings were "not a human rights violation".

"I have to admit that I feel bored being asked the same questions all over again each year about the tragedy," Elang's mother Hiratetty Yoganandita, better known as Tetty, told The Jakarta Post.

"However we must keep the memory alive so the tragedy can be solved quickly in the near future," she said.

Around 100 students and lecturers from Trisakti gathered at the Tanah Kusir Public Cemetery in South Jakarta on Saturday afternoon to commemorate the tragedy.

Only low-ranking security officers have been punished in the case, and even that was only referred to as a "procedural slip-up" instead of a gross human rights violation.

Elang, a former student of architecture, is buried next to Hery Hartanto who was a mechanical engineering student. Hendriawan is buried in Kamal, West Jakarta and Hafidhin in Bandung.

"I'm sure there will be justice someday, but we don't know when," Tetty said. "When Allah wants it to happen, it will happen."

Three presidents have replaced Soeharto but, according to Tetty, none of them have paid the proper attention to the case.

"I strongly believe they don't have any intention of solving the case. All the evidence is there. It's a matter of their will."

She said it would be very easy to point out who was responsible as everybody knows who the field commanders and their superiors were.

"I don't understand. Do our state officials still have a conscience?" she said.

"We, the victims' parents, have worked hard together with the university and other students to see that justice is done, but to no avail. It's hard to understand. Was it a case of all the political elite being involved (in the tragedy) so they don't want it to be solved?"

She said the officials would never be in their current positions without the students' sacrifice.

As a mother, Tetty never considered her son's sacrifice useless.

"I still have the faith that justice will come and hopefully the 2004 general elections will produce a clean administration with a conscience to solve the tragedy once and for all.

"Even if the next elections fail to do so, we can still wait. Insya Allah (God Willing), and the sacrifice won't be useless," she said.

Tetty had to bear more grief as Elang's father Bagus Yoganandita died on Jan. 3, 2003, said to be due to psychological pressure over his child's murder.

"It's a second blow for me. Elang's father simply could not take it anymore. He was very, very disappointed with the outcome of the tragedy. He could not take it," she said.

Clad in black, with a white veil, Tetty said she has tried to get over his death, but still wants the truth to come out.

"If he had not been shot, maybe he would have had a family and a job right now. But if I keep dwelling this, It will kill me too. Maybe Elang would have wanted me to move on with my life. But even though I accept it, I still want the truth."

Commenting on the student movements today, Tetty encouraged them not to lose faith, as eventually justice will prevail.

Tetty added that the punishment will come either here or in the afterworld.

"I have lost my husband now, but as some consolation, maybe he will meet Hamami Nata who has also recently died," she said, while adding that she did not mean to be sarcastic.

"I believe that the justice that Allah will mete out is for us, the parents."

Hamami was the City Police chief when the tragedy happened and passed away last week from a respiratory ailment.

"Who knows which others will soon follow both of them?"