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Group opposes hero title for Soeharto

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Ilustrasi. Opposing hero title for Soeharto. (historia.id)
Ilustrasi. group opposes hero title for Soeharto. (historia.id)

Resistance toward bestowing the country’s longest-serving president, Soeharto, with the title of national hero has continued amid lingering allegations that the former ruler of the New Order had engaged in corruption and ordered mass killings.

A group called Gema Demokrasi (Democratic Resonance) rallied on Wednesday, highlighting controversies surrounding his reign of 32 years.

Gema Demokrasi spokesman Asep Komarudin told The Jakarta Post that Soeharto was not worthy of receiving the award because he abused human rights and embezzled state money during his term in office from 1966 to 1998.

“He committed a lot of violations back then, such as the massacre of Indonesian Communist Party [PKI] members and other crimes during the New Order era,” Asep said at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) headquarters.

Soeharto has been considered responsible for the killing in 1965 and 1966, as he took over the presidency from Sukarno, of 500,000 Indonesians accused of being communists.

In addition, he was allegedly involved in the Tanjung Priok massacre in early 1984, the 1989 Talangsari incident in Lampung and the May 1998 riots between citizens and the military that resulted in many deaths and injuries.

According to anti-corruption group Transparency International, Soeharto ranked first on the list of the most corrupt presidents in the world, having taken between US$15 billion and $25 billion of the state’s money.

Despite mounting calls to put Soeharto on trial after the start of the reform era in 1998, charges implicating the former president remained unresolved by his death in 2008.

Asep said that naming Soeharto a national hero would be unfair to many people, primarily the families of victims of the crimes he had been accused of committing.

The government had proposed Soeharto and former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid be named national heroes this year, but the proposal was later withdrawn because of public protest.

“Giving Soeharto status as a hero means the government is inattentive to the families of victims,” he said.

Soeharto has been nominated by the Golkar Party, his regime’s main supporter, to receive the prestigious title three times since 2010, but to no avail because of growing opposition from activists citing records of his role in a number of human rights abuses during his period as the country’s longest-serving president.

Maria Catarina Sumarsih, a human rights activist whose son Bernardus Realino Norma Irawan died in the first Semanggi tragedy in 1998, has said that giving such a title to Soeharto would discredit existing national heroes who had made “worthy contributions” to the nation.

“I can’t accept if an actor in my son’s murder is given a hero’s title. He [Soeharto] was involved in several human rights abuse cases and my son was one of the victims,” she said in May. (adt)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/10/06/group-opposes-hero-title-soeharto.html

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