INDONESIAN presidential hopeful ‘Pak” Prabowo, the retired Kopassus general notorious for his alleged human rights violations in Timor-Leste, has finally broken his silence and made a statement to the Jakarta Post denouncing a recent article about his past as “scurrilous allegations”.
Yet his odious record speaks for itself.
He claims in an open letter that allegations about his actions three decades ago, notably the massacre in August 1983 in Kraras – now known as the “village of widows”, were “based on unproven allegations, innuendos and third-hand reports”.
What was he forced to reply to? Journalist Aboeprijadi Santoso, a contributor to The Jakarta Post writing from the safety of Amsterdam, had written an article entitled: “Whatever happened in Kraras, Timor-Leste, ‘Pak’ Prabowo?”
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He was referring to the massacre that has been immortalised in Beatriz’s War, the harrowing new film about the Timorese struggle for independence from Indonesia, especially telling the story from a woman’s perspective.
Heroine Beatriz (a composite character created from real life people) was a survivor from the Kraras massacre. Prabowo is depicted as being responsible for many human rights atrocities in the film.
Santoso recently described Prabowo as one of the “most interesting – and
most controversial” presidential hopefuls in the Indonesian elections
due in July because he has reinvented himself as an anti-corruption
[O]ne would be left wondering why we know little about his role in Indonesia’s former 27th province, now Timor-Leste, where his later military career was shaped. In the late 1970s he was proud to have eliminated Fretilin’s first president Nicolau do Reis Lobato.
Prabowo’s name has often been associated with a village called Kraras – the place where recently Timor Leste commemorated both the 38th anniversary of [Timor-Leste’s] declaration of independence and the 30th anniversary of the worst massacre in the nation’s history.
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