Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Interviewed by the Human Rights Program, BBC

Mohamad Susilo - Indonesian

Reporter's Story

In deciding which radio programmes I would make, I looked at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I wrote a proposal for 10 programmes, with each one examining a right.

After that, I attended a one-week "I have a right to..." course, organised by the BBC World Service Trust. It gave producers like me an overview on human rights.

I had heard about the human rights abuses, read about them in a newspaper, but through making the programmes I met the victims.

Mugiyanto, a man who was tortured, gave me a detailed description of what had happened to him. Sometimes it comes to my mind and I can see the picture. How he was given an electric shock; how he was beaten and kicked; without clothes, cold and bleeding. The picture stays.

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

No Trial

One of my programmes is about the following right: No one should be tortured. I met with one man who was a university student in 1998, when President Suharto was still in power. Suharto was planning to win the parliamentary elections for the 7th time. He had been in power for 32 years. Before he was elected, there were massive demonstrations in the big cities, held by students.

The government did not like these protests, so some members of the Special Forces, under Suharto, allegedly kidnapped prominent activists to silence them. In March 1998, 10 activists disappeared. Some were released; some are still missing.

I met Mugiyanto, one of the men, who says he was kidnapped and tortured in the office of the Army. He said he was taken at night, blindfolded. He had short trousers on, nothing more. He was questioned in the army barracks. He says they asked him, "Who was your leader? Why do you oppose the government?"

Every time the questioning ended, the army gave him an electric shock. They beat him but he kept silent. After he was released, there was no trial and the case was closed.

Making a Difference

Mugiyanto is now a legal activist for an NGO in
Jakarta. This NGO specialises in missing persons. He says, "I have the right to express my opinion, my political stance. It's a free country."

He travelled to
Europe and gave his testimony to several institutions in the Netherlands and in Geneva. At the time, his case was a high profile one because it related to the Special Forces, a very powerful group. The Special Forces was headed by the son-in-law of the president, Mr Prabowo. His men were tried and convicted, between 12 months and three years. Prabowo was fired from the army but did not go to jail.

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