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27 years after Priok killings, justice elusive for victims' families
Jakarta Globe - September 15, 2011
"It's been a long time, but for us it's never too late to change the history of the darkest period of our lives," said Wanmayetti, who lost her father in the incident.
Troops fired on Muslim protesters in the Tanjung Priok harbor area on Sept. 12, 1984. The official death toll was set at 24, but some accounts put the figure in the hundreds.
Wanmayetti said families of the deceased or missing victims have been pushing the government to pay them proper compensation for their losses.
Yati Andriyani, from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), has been assisting the victims' families to seek help from the Victim and Witness Protection Agency (LPSK).
"The injustice started when the Ad Hoc human rights tribunal freed all the suspects, so we have victims but no perpetrators," she said. The tribunal also denied a request for more than Rp 1 billion ($115,000) in compensation.
Wanmayetti said what was even more important to her was finding closure and justice.
Her father Bachtiar went missing on the day of the massacre and has not been seen since. After fruitless efforts to find him, a man told Wanmayetti that her father had been shot by soldiers and that his body was then tossed onto a truck.
"I was only 17 when it happened, but 27 years later it still pains me to think about it, about the many other people who also lost their family members and have not been getting any answers," she said.
Bashir, who lost his son during the incident, said all efforts to seek justice and compensation have yielded no result. "Since no perpetrators have been sent to jail, we have no one we can demand responsibility from," he said. "It's frustrating."
LPSK chairman Abdul Haris Semendawai said he would send a letter to the Coordinating Ministry of Politics, Legal and Security Affairs requesting that it explain what happened to the legal process in the Tanjung Priok incident.
Taking place at the height of the iron-fisted rule of former President Suharto, protesters marched to the local military command demanding the release of four mosque caretakers arrested two days earlier. However, soldiers suddenly began to fire on the crowd.