Indonesia: Release Prisoners of Conscience Now!

The pattern of systematic human rights violations that characterized former President Suharto's thirty-two year rule is perhaps best symbolized by the people he imprisoned for political activities. President Habibie could take no step more calculated to distance himself from the abuses of his predecessor and mentor than to release all of those still in jail for nonviolent opposition to the government of Suharto. As of June 4, he had only released four: Muchtar Pakpahan, a labor leader; Sri Bintang Pamungkas, a former parliamentarian and head of the Indonesian United Democratic Party (PUDI); Nuku Soleiman, a political activist; and Andi Syahputra, printer of an underground magazine. Several others, on trial when the new government came to power, have since been acquitted.Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch join with Indonesian human rights organizations in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all men and women imprisoned for nonviolent expression of their views andfor the repeal of the laws and presidential decrees that have been used over the last three decades to punish peaceful dissent. The prisoners who should be released without delay include members of the People=s Democratic Party (PRD) and its affiliates who remain in prison in Jakarta and Surabaya, the East Timorese accused of organizing the march to Santa Cruz cemetery in November 1991, a community organizer in Tasikmalaya, several university lecturers from Aceh, and organizers of peaceful pro-independence demonstrations in Irian Jaya.

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