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Indonesian 'Petrus' shooting gross rights violation
Publication Date : 25-07-2012
The Indonesian Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) announced yesterday that the summary execution-style killings between 1982 and 1985, known locally as penembakan misterius (mysterious shootings), or Petrus, were a gross violation of human rights as they involved systematic extra-judicial killing, torture and abduction.
In its report, the result of a four-year investigation which started in 2008, Komnas HAM found that the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police were most responsible for carrying out the killings, which were ordered by then president Soeharto as a means to bring down crime rates in the country.
"The team found evidence of gross violations of human rights in the mysterious shootings that took place between 1982 and 1985. This campaign was carried out by state security personnel and was widespread across the country," Yosep Adi Prasetyo, the commission deputy chairman said in a press conference yesterday.
"The killings followed certain patterns, such as the thumbs of the victims being tied together behind their backs, the bodies were wrapped in sacks and 10,000 rupiah [US$1.06] was left on top of the bodies for funeral costs," Prasetyo said.
The Komnas HAM report said that the TNI and the police, with their territorial commands, including the subdistrict military commands (Koramil), district military commands (Kodim) and the Regional Military Commands (Kodam), were most responsible for what the commission also considered as crimes against humanity.
On Monday, Komnas HAM also announced that the 1965 anti-communist purge was a gross violation of human rights.
The Petrus shootings started in August 1982, under the command of then chief of the Operational Command for the Restoration of Security and Order (Kopkamtib), Adm. Soedomo. Soedomo died in June this year. The operation was codenamed "Operasi Clurit" (Operation Sickle).
In March 1983, Gen. Benny Moerdani, who replaced Soedomo as commander of Kopkamtib, took over the security operation.
The operation targeted recidivists, local gangs, unemployed youths and others considered sources of violent crime. Some were targeted by the operation simply because they had tattoos, considered the mark of criminals.
"However, there are a few victims who had no criminal records. Some of them were farmers and civil servants," said Prasetyo.
Bodies of the victims were found in cities throughout Central and East Java, Bogor in West Java, Jakarta, Palembang in South Sumatra and Medan in North Sumatra. Komnas HAM put the death toll from the security operation at 2,000.
In the investigation, Komnas HAM commissioners travelled to spots known as the dumping grounds of victims.
"Luweng Grubug, an underground cave in Wonosari, Yogyakarta, appears to have been one of the dumping sites for the bodies. Some of the victims were pushed and some were forced to jump into the rocky hole," Prasetyo said.
Although initially the perpetrators used firearms to kill their victims, due to condemnation from the international community, which suspected that the military was involved in the operation, the method was changed to strangulation.
In the report, Komnas HAM said that TNI and the police drew up lists of targeted individuals, which were then distributed to community leaders. Some were kidnapped and detained at military facilities and others were executed in front of their families.
Former president Soeharto said in his autobiography titled "Otobiografi Soeharto: Pikiran, Ucapan, dan Tindakan Saya" (Soeharto Autobiography: Thoughts, Words and Action) that "We have to conduct the treatment with firm acts. What kind of firm acts? Violence, but it does not have to be shooting."
"Those who tried to fight back, they were shot. Some of the bodies were left in the open, just like that. It was shock therapy. This would make people understand that there are consequences of evil conduct," Soeharto wrote.