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Indonesia's Shame: Cruel insults for slain rape counselor

Oct. 11, 1998


There are many ways a local government can handle the brutal murder of a high school student who volunteered as a counselor for rape victims. Wreaths and deep regrets come to mind. Not in Indonesia. Just one day after teen-ager Martadinata Haryono was stabbed to death in her home, government officials called her a drug-addict, accused her of sodomy, and flouted all evidence by denying the murder had anything to do with her work comforting ethnic Chinese women raped in the country's terrifying May riots.

"People will now be afraid to tell anyone what happened during the riots," said Ester Indahyani Jusuf Lubis, leader of an anti-discrimination group, according to the Associated Press. "This is terrorizing Indonesia's ethnic Chinese." Haryono and her mother Wiwin both worked for Volunteers for Humanity, a group that counsels the estimated 168 mostly Chinese women who were raped during the spring chaos, which killed an estimated 1,200 and helped depose longtime president Suharto.

On Tuesday of last week, the Volunteers for Humanity and several other human rights organizations held a joint press conference to say they had received death threats warning them to stop assisting international investigations into the rapes, the BBC reported. Haryono and her mother were planning to visit the United States this week to testify in front of human rights panels, friends of the family told reporters. But just three days after the press conference, someone entered Haryono's room and stabbed her 10 times in the abdomen, chest and right arm, in addition to slicing her neck, Dr. Mun'im Idris told the state Antara news agency. "Her head was almost cut off at the throat," Idris said.

Albert Hasibuan, a leader of Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights, told AFP he suspected the killer was probably linked to "the government and other parties" who would prefer to deny that the mass rapes took place. That theory seemed even more credible on Saturday morning, when Jakarta newspapers quoted Lt. Colonoel Imam Haryatna, head of central Jakarta police precinct, as saying that robbery had been ruled out as a motive on account that nothing had been taken from the girl's house.

But then on Saturday night, police arrested Haryono's neighbor, a man named Suryadi in his early 20s whom they said was found with the girl's fake jewelry and some of her bloody clothing. Major General Noegroho Djajoesman of the Indonesian army pronounced to Antara that Suryadi "had planned the robbery long beforehand," ruling out politics as a motive. He then said that a syringe was found under Haryono's bed, "indicating that she was a drug addict."

The Saturday evening Suara Pembaruan newspaper then reported that an autopsy on Haryono turned up evidence of sodomy. Asked to explain how the motive could have been burglary when nothing was stolen, police psychologist Sarlito Wirawan said the assailant "panicked" when he discovered the girl in her own home, and reacted by brutally stabbing her to death, according to the South China Morning Post. Wirawan also emphasized that Haryono was a drug addict.

The 100 or so human rights workers who attended Haryono's memorial services ridiculed the police findings, and said the murder served as a "grim warning" to activists. "Police were too quick to reach a conclusion that it was robbery," activist Ratna Sarumpaet told the BBC. "Given how many activists have been threatened, police have to look into this further."

The New York-based Human Rights Watch on Monday urged the Indonesian government to provide "better protection" for Volunteers for Humanity, and stressed it "has an obligation to conduct fully transparent investigations." Indonesia's government has acknowledged that rapes took place during the riots, but its independent investigators have not yet estimated how many.

An initial report is expected later this month. Meanwhile, the Muslim opposition has pounced on the Haryono's death as a sign of the government's decadence. "The Indonesian nation is heading towards destruction," Abdurrahman Wahid, head of the Nadhlatul Ulama Muslim group, told a crowd of mourners, the BBC reported. "With all the rapes and the killing of a child."

Comment 1

Subject: Fwd: More news about Ita's sexual assault and murder case
All, I just verified this story today with Mrs. Y who was interviewed on the phone by SingTao reporter from SF. Mrs. Y who is currently in Indonesia were able to see the victim's body and talk to the victim's uncle. This below report came to me yesterday and I couldn't release it to the public. I am also attaching a picture of her body in coffin. Please take a look at her nose and her mouth which were smashed. I need your help to make public awareness and protest.

[name deleted] should be able to give you more information about the international protest date. Please delete my name when you are forwarding this email!

Thank for your support,

[name deleted]

Comment 2

The below statement was sent to me by my private contact person in Indonesia. [name deleted],These are shocking facts about Ita Marthadinata that are forcefully and deliberately hidden from the public. Mrs.Y told me this. She got all of this info from Ita's uncle. Please prepare yourself:

  1. Ita's VAGINA was POKED with an IRON BAR, so deep that it PIERCED through her body. The tip of the iron bar can be seen coming out from her back. This is similar to some May rape cases.
  2. Ita suffered stabs in her chest, belly, palm. Her neck was slashed such that if the slash was only a few centimeter deeper, she would have been decapitated. Her neck muscles were all visible and the blood gushed out like river.
  3. Ita was found holding an electric cable. She WAS ELECTRIC-SHOCKED.
  4. Ita was SODOMIZED. A glob of sperm was found in her body and on the bedsheet.
  5. Her face was crushed: her nose was broken, her lips were swollen, ALL HER FRONT TEETH WERE BROKEN.
  • At the time she died, Ita wore a necklace and some rings. When the police came, they asked all the people including Ita's father and mother to leave the room. When the police were inside, they took Ita's rings and necklace from her, seize all her photos, diary, mail, cards. The "evidence" that the police said was found in the hands of Ita's "suspected murderer" are actually the necklace and the rings the police took from Ita's body when they were in Ita's room.
  • Mrs. Wiwin (Ita's mother) when in funeral house was guarded always by 2 native Indonesian women. Mrs. Y asked her about those 2 women. She said that those were POLWAN. They kept an eye on Mrs. Wiwin and forbade ALL PRESS to ask her questions. Those Polwan also THREATENED Mrs. Wiwin NOT TO TALK ABOUT THE CASE to anybody.
  • Mrs. Y talked to Ita's neighbors, many of them are native Indonesian. They testified that Ita was a very nice girl. She had pleasant personality, always being nice to everybody.
  • Why Ita's family never locked their house? The fence of Ita's house was always left ajar because Ita had a fierce dog. At the time she was murdered, her dog was POISONED TO DEATH.
  • The "suspected murderer" might not be Ita's neighbor (like reported in the newspapers). He could live anywhere else.
  • Ita was raped and killed in the second floor but when police came they even SEARCHED the PRAYING TABLE (meja abu) in the first floor. (Ita's family is Buddhist). What for? A harassment?
  • A few days before the tragedy, the neighbors claimed to have seen some unknown men patroling around Ita's house. Sometimes they sat in front of the house, observing the situation. The neighbors never thought they were planning such hideous murder on Ita.
  • Mrs. Y was not sure whether Ita was one of the May Rape victims. She will check for more info.
  • We might not be able to trust Dr. Munim Idries, the doctor who performed autopsy on Ita's body. Mrs. Y said he is a hypocrite.
  • Tim Relawan works now together with Munir, a lawyer from KONTRAS. He agrees to work on this case. They will bring this case to United Nations.
  • I have told Mrs. Y about your itention to do teleconference with Ita's parents and also for Ita's photos but Mrs. Y said that we should give the family some time for their sorrow. According to Buddhist tradition, it's about 3 days.
  • The plan to bring 4 rape victims to US is still on schedule. Tim will not cancel it.
  • There might be TRAITORS in the Tim. The plan to bring 4 victims to the US is highly confidential. Even Mrs. Y didn't know about it. So if there're traitors, they should be TOP persons in Tim.
That's all for now. Ita's case is crazily obviously ENGINEERED (rekayasa gila-gilaan!). GOD, HAVE MERCY ON US!

PS: Should we expose these facts to other members? After I heard all of those horrible things done to Ita, I feel as if I want to throw up...

Below article is from Indonesia:

detikcom, Jakarta

From: [deleted] Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 1998 10:29 PM