Author Topic: Cablegate 2009-Jakarta:Activists Protest Against 2 Former Generals #Prabowo  (Read 1244 times)

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Offline mayya

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2009 May 5, 10:50 (Tuesday)
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ID - Indonesia | KDEM - Democratization | PGOV - Political Affairs--Government; Internal Governmental Affairs | PHUM - Political Affairs--Human Rights
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Indonesia Jakarta
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Central Intelligence Agency |National Security Council |Secretary of State | The Association of Southeast Asian Nations

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Classified By: Pol/C Joseph L. Novak, reasons 1.4(b+d). 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Indonesian activists are protesting the involvement in politics of two former generals who are accused of past human rights violations. The two, Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto (one name only), head new parties which did well enough to enter Parliament in the April elections. Both are now heavily involved in forming coalitions ahead of the July presidential elections, with Wiranto agreeing on May 1 to run as vice president on a ticket headed by current VP Jusuf Kalla. With President Yudhoyono--a former general with a positive human rights record--dominating in the polls, neither Prabowo nor Wiranto are likely to achieve national office. 



2. (U) Ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for July 8, a coalition of human rights activists have publicly called on voters not to throw their support behind candidates with poor human rights records. Specifically mentioned were Wiranto (one name only), Chair of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), and Prabowo Subianto, Chair of the Great Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra). They are both former generals. 

3. (C) Activists fear that electing a president or vice president with controversial records would hurt the democratic process and Indonesia's international reputation. Several activists told us that such candidates, if they won, would likely stymie the human rights agenda in the Parliament and stall proposed legislation to continue reforms of the TNI. Some Indonesian Chinese have also expressed concerns about Prabowo whom they see as anti-Chinese (see more below). 

4. (C) Coalition members met officials from President Yudhoyono's Partai Demokrat (PD) on May 4 to press their case. PD officials reiterated their commitment to human rights accountability and to victims. Activists hope the new parliament will move quickly to resolve the 1998 Semanggi and Trisakti shooting incidents (incidents where anti-Suharto activists were shot and killed by security forces). They also hope there is a continued push for accountability in the Munir case (Munir, a human rights activist, was murdered in 2004) as well as on other matters. 

5. (C) Activists remain hopeful that PD--which did exceedingly well in the April elections--will push this human rights agenda in Parliament. They underscore their respect for President Yudhoyono, himself a former general, but one with a good record on human rights. 


6. (U) On May 1, current Vice President and Golkar Party Chair Jusuf Kalla formally announced his presidential ticket naming Wiranto as his vice presidential running mate (see reftel). Previously, Wiranto ran for president in the 2004 election, placing third. Wiranto's Hanura Party received about 3.6 percent of the vote. 

7. (C) Prabowo is also active. There is much talk that he will be named VP running mate for former president Megawati Soekarnoputri (PDI-P). Prabowo's Gerindra received about 4.3 percent of the vote. 

8. (C) If there is a Megawati-Prabowo link-up, this would make for very strange bedfellows. During the Suharto era, Megawati was the most prominent symbol of opposition to the Suharto regime and she made public comments criticizing Prabowo at the time. Human rights activist Benny Susetyo told us that any consideration of Prabowo by Megawati as a VP running mate was purely opportunism on her part. PDI-P's poor showing in the April 9 legislative elections had forced the party to negotiate with Gerindra in order to stay in the game. Prabowo is also known to have a lot of money and can help Megawati fund her presidential race. With President Yudhoyono dominating in the polls, neither Prabowo nor Wiranto are likely to achieve national office, almost all observers agree. It is also strange that a number of former activists who were allegedly kidnapped by forces under Prabowo's control in the 1990's have endorsed Prabowo. 


9. (SBU) Brief bio snapshots of the two former JAKARTA 00000785 002 OF 002 generals--focusing on their human rights track records--follow: -- Wiranto, 62, had a long career in the military and was close to former president Suharto. Human rights groups accuse him of orchestrating (or of turning a blind eye to) the violence committed by TNI soldiers and pro-Indonesian militias during the conflict in Timor Leste (East Timor) in 1999. At the time, he was chief of the Armed Forces. In 2003, a court in Timor Leste indicted Wiranto for crimes against humanity. The Timor Leste government later withdrew the indictment in 2004. Wiranto was also in command of the Army during violence in Jakarta in May 1998 around the timeframe of Suharto's fall from power. --Prabowo, 57, the former chief of Army Special Forces, stands accused of involvement in the kidnapping and murder of activists during the turmoil surrounding the downfall of the Suharto regime. A military tribunal subsequently discharged Prabowo without honor from the TNI. International NGO's have called for Prabowo's prosecution for alleged atrocities committed in East Timor by forces under his authority in 1999. He was also in command of forces in May 1998 in Jakarta. These forces allegedly tried to create chaos in the city as part of an effort by Prabowo to seize power for himself. During this timeframe, dozens of Indonesians died in mysterious fires and Indonesian Chinese were victimized, especially in the area of Glodok, Jakarta. Prabowo was also close to former president Suharto; for a time, he was married to one of Suharto's daughters. They later divorced.