Previously in October, 1989, two other prisoners, Tohong Harahap and Muchtar Sirait, were secretly executed by the government, they were accused of attempting to revive the banned PKI (Indonesian Communist Party). Their deaths were not confirmed by the government until the February executions took place.
The two prisoners executed in October, 1989 had been convicted and sentenced to death in 1974 for having been PKI members in 1965.
The other four men were all soldiers arrested in 1965 and accused of participating in a coup attempt against the Indonesian ruler, General Sukarno. They were all sentenced to death in either 1969 or 1970. Appeals and petitions for clemency have all been turned down.
The executions should be seen in light of the fact that immediately after the 1965 coup attempt, which was later blamed on the PKI, right wing factions within the military seized power, led by general Suharto, who is still in power today with heavy US, Australian, and Dutch support, about 1,000,000 real and suspected members of the PKI were murdered with no type of trial or judicial process. The latest executions are seen as an attempt to placate right wing elements within the Indonesian military who are uncomfortable with growing ties with China and the USSR.
The executions brought widespread protest and condemnation from Western Europe, especially Holland which has threatened economic sanctions.
The prisoners have no legal assistance and the executions have not been announced beforehand. This results in a great deal of stress and strain on the prisoners and their families, waiting, literally, decades for the execution of sentences imposed over 20 years ago. The prisoners' conditions are quite brutal, they are allowed no reading materials, visits, communication with their loved ones, etc.
For more information on the human rights situation in Indonesia and the pacific region, contact: Tapol, 111 Northwood Rd., Thornton Heath, Surrey, CR4 8HW, England.
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