Hero's father dies of broken heart

"I lost a son ... now I've lost my husband ... because of them ... these people ... who refuse to take responsibility for all this violence," the mother of reform hero Elang Mulya Lesmana, Hiratetty Yoga, mumbled while viewing the remains of her husband lying before her.

The death of Bagus Yoga Nandita, 51, on Friday afternoon added to the unremitting grief felt by the people, particularly the families of the students, brutally shot by security officers while promoting reforms in 1998 and 1999, and whose cases remain unresolved.

Bagus, familiarly called Pak Boy, had unrelentingly been fighting for justice over the killing of their child. He died in the effort.

Hiratetty, 48, said her husband suffered a psychological breakdown upon realizing that his search for the truth had apparently gone nowhere soon after the fourth commemoration of the May 12, 1998 shooting incident at the Trisakti University campus in West Jakarta.

Four students died in the shooting, including Elang, Hendrawan, Hafidin Royan and Hari Hartanto -- all were in their early 20s -- and were latter dubbed reform heroes as their death triggered massive protests that led to the downfall of president Soeharto.

"My husband's health drastically deteriorated after that due to the refusal by the (political) elite to take the case to a rights tribunal. He repeatedly made speeches, saying that all (responsible) generals should be tried for murdering my son.

"Sometimes, he called out my beloved son's name ... Elang, Elang, come here, look ... the generals are to be tried ...," Hiratetty told The Jakarta Post, as she struggled to hold back the tears.

Sari Ratna Dewi, Hiratetty's first daughter, said her father had lost some 35 kilograms in body weight since then.

"We tried to persuade him to let go, but I think it was not that easy ... neither for my father nor for us," she said.

Bagus, a retired civil servant from Bank Indonesia, had been treated at several hospitals for the last seven months, the last being Pondok Indah Hospital, South Jakarta.

He died in peace, with all the members of his family surrounding him and listening to the reading of his last testament.

"Continue the struggle to bring the perpetrators to trial at all costs," Hiratetty quoted her husband as saying as she delivered the message to Usman Hamid of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).

Usman, a colleague of Elang, was in the inquiry team formed by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to investigate the Trisakti shootings and two subsequent incidents at the Semanggi cloverleaf in Central Jakarta.

Bagus was buried five meters away from Elang's grave at the Tanah Kusir public cemetery in South Jakarta on Friday.

The Semanggi I and II shooting incidents took place during the short tenure of B.J. Habibie, Soeharto's successor, as thousands of students demanded that politicians, including the military, introduce reforms. The protests were, however, repressed by security personnel.

Due to mounting public demands, the House of Representatives established a special committee in 2000 to investigate the cases and questioned several Army and Police generals, including former Armed Forces Gen. (ret) Wiranto, former National Police chief Gen. (ret) Dibyo Widodo, former Jakarta Military commander Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, former Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Hamami Nata, and former Army's Strategic Reserves (Kostrad) commander Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo.

According to Law No. 26/2000 on human rights, the House has the authority to decide whether a case that occurred before the law came into effect should be taken to a rights tribunal. However, the investigation should be in the hands of Komnas HAM, it says.

The House has concluded there were no gross human rights violations in the fatal shootings that killed more than 30 young people, mostly students, and injured dozens others, despite the allegation by rights campaigners, "such a violation is not an ordinary crime as it was committed by the state".

* Tiarma Siboro and Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, January 5, 2003

Winding path of the Trisakti legal case

  • May 12, 1998: Four Trisakti University students are shot inside the campus.
  • Nov. 13, 1998: Six protesting students are shot at Semanggi cloverleaf.
  • Sep. 24, 1999: University of Indonesia student is shot near Semanggi cloverleaf.
  • 2000: A fact-finding team is established, the results used to take low-ranking policemen to the military court for trial.
  • July 9, 2001: The House of Representatives issues a recommendation that no human rights abuse was found in the Trisakti and Semanggi incidents.
  • Aug. 27, 2001: The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) establishes an inquiry team.
  • January 2002: Military and Police officers reject the inquiry team's summonses to be witnesses, while the Military tribunal closes the trial and send the policemen to three years and six years in jail.
  • March 21, 2002: The inquiry team completes its task and names 50 military and police officers as responsible for the three incidents.
  • April 22, 2002: Komnas HAM accepts the inquiry team's report and quickly submits the case to the Attorney General's Office for prosecution
  • May to November 2002: Prosecutors repeatedly return the dossier to Komnas HAM, requesting more information
  • Nov. 13, 2002: Prosecutor BR Pangaribuan says the office has no legal basis to proceed with a prosecution due to the existence of the House's 2001 recommendation.