Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Being Abducted by KOPASSUS Prior to the Fall of Suharto

We were tortured, democracy activist reports

By James Balowski

On June 13, three leaders of Indonesia's outlawed People's Democratic Party (PRD) were released from custody. They were Mugianto (who visited Australia in 1996 under the name Robby Hartono), Nezar Patria and Aan Rusdianto. The following is an abridged version of Mugianto's written testimony, which was released on June 8.

On the afternoon of March 13, I phoned Nezar and Aan at their lodgings and arranged to meet them there in an hour. When I arrived there was no answer when I knocked on the door, and neighbours said they had left but would return. I was able to find a key and get in but immediately realised something was wrong. The lights were out and a computer, books and documents were missing.

Not knowing if they had fled or been captured, I packed some important documents, intending to leave by a side window. Outside there were a number of well-built men waiting. Unable to leave, when they knocked on the door all I could do was open it. Ten men in green uniforms entered.

They forced me into a vehicle, and I was taken to the Duren Sawit military offices. From there I was driven to the East Jakarta district military command by uniformed police officers.

I was then ordered out and transferred to another car. I was ordered to take off my shirt and was blindfolded. They told me they were a mafia group which could do anything to anyone for anybody if they had the money.

After about an hour we stopped in front of a building, and I was ordered out and told to remove my shoes and trousers, leaving me wearing only my underpants. They began hitting me repeatedly in the stomach and face until I collapsed. They then took me into a small room and laid me down on a bunk to which my hands and feet were tied. That was when the interrogation began.

I was given repeated electric shocks to my feet and ankles. They started by asking questions about Nezar and Aan, who I then realised were also there. Their interrogation had also started and I could hear their screams as they were given electric shocks and beaten.

Then they began asking about my involvement in the PRD and about the organisation's structure, particularly about Andi Arief [a PRD leader who was abducted in Lampung, South Sumatra, on March 28 and remains in police custody]. I told them that I had only recently arrived in Jakarta and didn't know very much but that Andi was in Lampung. They didn't believe me and continued to give me electric shocks.

They tried to force me to admit I was a leader of the PRD and asked about the organisation's international work and its donors.

On the afternoon of the next day, a number of other people arrived and questioned me about the PRD's program, in particular on East Timor, Aceh and West Papua, and the current political situation. There was some physical abuse but mostly they just tried to frighten me.

I remained tied to the bed for two days, only allowed out three times, twice to urinate, once to be photographed. Except for when I was being photographed, I was kept blindfolded the whole time. Although they gave me good food, I could not finish it because my lip was badly hurt from the beating.

Still blindfolded, on March 15 I was put in a car and driven to another building. There I was interrogated by five people for about 30 minutes, then photographed and videotaped.

Together with Aan and Nezar, I was put in a car which had five men in it. During the journey we were intimidated and told not to lie. I was threatened by having a gun placed against my head. They then ordered us to pray and make out a final message for our parents.

When we arrived at the central Jakarta police station we were interrogated for about five hours, then separated and placed in isolation cells. Only after a month did they allowed us to mix with other prisoners. On May 17, a military officer arrived and questioned us about our abduction.

After 83 days in the isolation cells, we were finally released.

Source: Green Left Weekly, Australian Leftwing Newspaper , June 1998

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