(Penang, Sunday): DAPSY should be commended for taking the lead in Malaysia to speak up against the atrocities of gang rapes and mass slaughters committed in Indonesia in May which, according to the latest issue of Asiaweek (July 24, 1998), had caused "1,188 people dead, as many as 468 women raped, and 40 malls, 2,470 shophouses and 1,119 cars looted or destroyed".
Asiaweek said: "A month-long Asiaweek investigation, that included interviews with military officers, lawyers, human-rights activists, victims and witnesses, suggests that the Trisakti shootings, the riots that followed and the rapes of Chinese women were indeed planned."
It said: "If the riots were orchestrated, there had to be a mastermind. His identity may never be fully substantiated, but one man has been consistently linked to the violence: Suhartoís son-in-law, Lt.-Gen. Prabowo Subianto, at the time commander of the elite Army Strategic Reserves (Kostrad)."
Asiaweek quoted a senior Indonesian military officer as saying that "Probowo wanted to create such chaos that his rival, armed forces chief Gen. Wiranto, would be unable to restore order. Suharto, in Egypt at the time, would have had to declare martial law. As chief of Kostrad, a key combat-ready unit, Prabowo would have been the only one able to take charge. Thatís one theory. Others say he wanted to impress Suharto by sowing chaos - and then proving he could control it."
The Far Eastern Economic Review (July 23, 1998) said that eye-witness accounts catalogued in a comprehensive report sent to the state-appointed National Commission on Human Rights have one common underlying theme: The violence was premeditated and organized and not spontaneous.
Marzuki Darusman, deputy chairman of the National Commission of Human Rights in Indonesia, was quoted as telling FEER: "This is the first time we are describing a violation in Indonesia as a crime against humanity - the codeword the United Nations used for ethnic cleansing in Bosnia", where the majority Serbs sought to systematically eliminate the Muslim minority.
The Thailand daily, The Nation, today carried an editorial under the heading: "Victims need a credible gang-rape probe" said:
"Few believed him. Many rape victims said their assailants sported military-style crew-cut hair. Others saw men who appeared to be from the military help orchestrate the riots. Indeed, of all people, Wiranto should know that getting the military to investigate the rapes is much like asking the fox to determine who raided the chicken coop."
Such a statement, though belated and welcome, is not enough to convince Indonesians and the world that there would be a credible investigation, where witnesses and victims would be given full protection from possible retaliation of their attackers and that the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity, no matter how powerful, would be severely punished.
Indonesian President Habibie should invite the United Nations Human
Rights Commission to conduct an investigation into the gang rapes and mass
slaughters in Indonesia in May.
Further, Habibie should agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the international war crimes tribunal against the culprits guilty of heinous crimes against humanity.
Against the opposition of the United States Government, a historic international conference of 160 countries in Rome created the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Saturday . The ICC, which will sit in The Hague, is complementary to national legal jurisdictions. It will have jurisdiction over four crimes - crime of genocide; crime against humanity; war crimes; and crime of aggression.
A crime against humanity implies "part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack." Among these crimes are enslavement, torture, rape, forced pregnancy and forced sterilisation.
What happened in Indonesia in May, the gang rapes and mass slaughters, were clearly crimes against humanity.
Although technically, the ICC cannot adjudicate against the gang rapes and mass slaughters in Indonesia in May because they took place before its establishment, President Habibie can allow the ICC to do so by submitting to its jurisdiction against the culprits guilty of heinous crimes against humanity in May.
The Malaysian Government had been one of the loudest voices in the international community against the genocide and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, which had been strongly supported by the DAP.
The Malaysian Government cannot remain silent against the heinous crimes against humanity perpetrated in our neighbouring country in Indonesia, and Malaysia must speak up as loudly and righteously in international forums to demand justice be given to the victims of the gang-rapes and mass slaughters in Indonesia as in the case of the Bosnian victims of Serbian atrocities.
The Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday should therefore take a policy stand to condemn the gang rapes and mass slaughters perpetrated in Indonesia in May as crimes against humanity and Malaysia must be in the forefront to demand that President Habibie should agree to an international human rights investigation into the dastardly deeds.
Penang Gerakan chief, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, has condemned the gang rapes and mass slaughters. This is welcome but not enough. As Penang Chief Minister, Tsu Koon should send a formal protest in the name of the government and people of Penang to Indonesia to condemn such atrocities as well as to demand that there should be an independent and credible probe by an international human rights panel into the crimes against humanity in Indonesia in May this year.