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In advance of the U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s October 15 Washington, D.C. meeting with Prabowo Subianto, Indonesia’s Defense Minister who has been banned since 2000 from entering the U.S., due to his alleged direct involvement in human rights violations, Amnesty International USA’s National Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, Joanne Lin said:

“The State Department’s recent decision to lift the ban on Prabowo Subianto is an abrupt, complete reversal of longstanding U.S. foreign policy which has been in place for several decades. The invitation must be rescinded as it would be catastrophic for human rights in Indonesia.

“The U.S. Government’s decision in 2000 to blacklist Prabowo Subianto due to his human rights violations represented an extremely important commitment to human rights.  The U.S. Government’s policy over the last 20 years has brought much needed hope and relief to the victims who suffered torture and other ill treatment under his special forces.”

Amnesty International Indonesia and Amnesty International USA issued a letter calling on the United States to investigate Subianto, and if there is sufficient admissible evidence that he is criminally responsible for torture, bring him to trial or extradite him to any other country willing to exercise jurisdiction over the alleged crimes. as mandated by article 5 (2) of the Convention Against Torture.

Prabowo Subianto served as commander of the army’s special forces under Soeharto and has been implicated in crimes against humanity, including enforced disappearances, by Indonesia’s human rights commission.  Prabowo Subianto has been widely accused of being involved in human rights violations, including the abductions of pro-democracy activists in the months leading up to the end of Soeharto’s rule.  Official independent investigations mandated to investigate serious human rights violations in 1998 concluded that Prabowo Subianto was aware of the violations and as the commander of the army’s special forces, was ultimately responsible for the abductions of pro-democracy activists in 1997-98. The allegations against him have never been tried in court. Survivors of the serious violations that Proabowo Subianto has been accused of, have been waiting for over 20 years for justice, accountability, and reparation.

Media contact: Mariya Parodi, [email protected]