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Indonesian official denies rapes; Police chief threatens to sue activists

August 25, 1998

Reuters, AFP

JAKARTA -- Indonesia's intelligence services chief has said there was no evidence to support claims of systematic rapes during the May riots and charged that the allegations have been circulated intentionally to undermine the Indonesian government. State Intelligence Coordinating Board (Bakin) head Moetojib was yesterday quoted by The Jakarta Post and Republika dailies as saying that his agency had not found any evidence or indications to support the allegations.

"Without trying to evade reality, we doubt the truthfulness of the rape reports given that we have yet to find any evidence. Why hasn't a single one of the rape victims come forward to file a report?" he said. "Looking at the intensity of the reports circulated to corner the nation and the armed forces, I believe there is an intention that Indonesia, or at the very least the current government, collapses. "I have checked hospitals, visited apartments where the alleged rapes took place, but have yet to find a single item of evidence."

His comments came a day after national police chief Lieutenant-General Roesmanhadi told reporters while on a visit to Singapore that from a police perspective, the issue of alleged raping of ethnic Chinese women "still needs to be further justified, but not on the basis of rumours".

Last week, Lt-Gen Roesmanhadi threatened to sue activists for "spreading rumours" if they failed to provide evidence supporting their rape allegations. He was strongly criticised by the Joint Fact Finding Team, a task force set up by the government to probe the May violence, which said that such statements only hampered its job.

Human rights and non-governmental organisations claim that 168 rapes, mostly of ethnic Chinese women and young girls, occurred during riots here in May, which claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people. They also said that 20 of the rape victims died from their wounds, were murdered by their assailants or committed suicide. Their findings were based on interviews with victims, their relatives and witnesses.

News of the atrocities has drawn strong condemnation and protest overseas. Mr Moetojib said he was very concerned that the widespread reports of the rapes have attracted international attention and public protests abroad, including protests at Indonesian consulates and embassies. "The consulates and embassies were... terrorised and called representatives of a rapist country," he said. "If the incidents did happened, we would all condemn them. But if they did not, we must... reject such reports."

President B.J. Habibie has invited intelligence agencies from neighbouring countries to Indonesia to check the rape reports for themselves, but so far no one has taken up the offer.

Comment 1

Indonesian official says peaceful anti-rape protesters 'TERRORIZED' Indonesian embassies. Yet absolutely attention is paid to Indonesians TERRORIZING ethnic Chinese rape victims. If the presence of PEACEFUL demonstrators OUTSIDE Indonesian embassies qualifies as 'TERROR' to Indonesian officials, then why isn't the presence of VIOLENT intruders INSIDE Indonesian Chinese homes and bodies recognized as TERROR? DUH?!!!