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Indonesia

Group wants riots taught as history

'Crucial move' to ensure that a similar tragedy will not happen again

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Group wants riots taught as history
Andi Yentriani (holding microphone) from the National Commission on Violence against Women speaks at the press conference
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The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and four NGOs have asked the government to make a tragedy that happened 13 years ago, and killed more than a thousand people, a part of the study of history. In May 1998, thousands of people rallied to oust former president Suharto. The unrest spiraled out of control and mobs began targeting properties and business owned by Indonesian Chinese. More than 1,500 people were reportedly killed during the rioting. The national commission reported 85 cases of sexual assault against Chinese Indonesian girls in the tragedy. Fifty-two of those cases involved groups of people. “The integration of the May 1998 tragedy into the history study is a crucial move to ensure that a similar tragedy will not happen again in the future,” Andi Yentriani of the national commission said yesterday at a press conference in Jakarta. She added that the move is also important to confirm the reformation agenda, which is to fulfill the victims’ rights and increase respect for human rights as an inseparable part of a dream of an independent, united, sovereign, fair and prosperous nation. “There is no reason to postpone the integration of the May 1998 tragedy into the history study. Waiting for a trial process which has not been started yet and probably will fail to offer justice to victims, especially the girls who were raped, must not be a reason,” she maintained. The commissioner said a report from the fact finding team investigating the May 13-15, 1998, riots can be a basis to create the study materials. The team has revealed the tragedy’s motive and pattern as well as the victims’ whereabouts and the state’s responsibility. It also has verified the existence of victims of rape and other sexual abuse in the tragedy. “Komnas Perempuan will work together with teachers of history in preparing the materials,” she said. Related report Activists seek justice on 1998 rape of Chinese IJ14191

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