Human Rights Workers, Rape Survivors Threatened in Indonesia

Human rights organizations that have been investigating reports of rape in Jakarta, Indonesia have received death threats from unidentified men.

The organizations estimated at least 168 cases of rape during the riots and several afterwards. Most of the victims were part of the Chinese minority that is often scapegoated in times of crisis. Twenty women died as a result of their assaults, and most have been silenced by threats of violence and rumors of more attacks. Others have fled or even committed suicide.

The threats to human rights workers and rape survivors indicate that the rapists or those who may have ordered the rapes have the capacity to monitor the activities of the organizations. Human rights workers said their investigation confirmed their suspicion that the rapes were organized and coordinated. Most suspect the military or other security forces. On Friday, 100 women demonstrated outside the Defense Ministry demanding that the military take responsibility for and end the rapes, brandishing signs that read “Indonesia! Republic of Fear, Republic of Terror, Republic of Rape!”

According to Volunteers for Humanity Spokeswoman President B.J. Habibie was reluctant to explore the rapes at first because he feared it would reflect poorly on the Indonesian people, but has now agreed to create a task force led by his wife Dr. Hasri Ainun Besari to study the reports.


New York Times - July 20, 1998

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