Indonesian regime backtracking on Budiman release?

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Indonesian regime backtracking on Budiman release?

By James Balowski

On March 9, the Indonesian daily Kompas claimed that the chairperson of the People's Democratic Party (PRD), Budiman Sujatmiko, had rejected an offer of clemency by the minister of justice, Muladi.

In a written statement from Cipinang prison, Budiman and PRD secretary general Petrus H. Haryanto said that they had never asked for clemency and that their being in jail was a result of political manipulation. "Therefore we feel there is no need to obtain clemency to free us. Our freedom and the freedom of other political prisoners is a historical demand", they said.

"What we did was integral to the movement for total reformasi, of which one thing was demanding that Suharto resign. That is something that in reality has already become a fact and historical truth", the statement said.

Budiman's father, Wartono Utomo, told Kompas, "I am happy because the government will free Budiman. But Budiman will definitely reject being released if other PRD activists are not released as well." Budiman is instead calling for an unconditional amnesty for all political prisoners.

Muladi responded by saying he was "surprised" by Budiman's attitude, adding, "He should keep silent".

On March 10, the internet news service Detikcom quoted Muladi as saying, "Budiman's rejection will obviously make things difficult for me because as you know, I do not stand alone in this matter. If he takes steps which make it difficult for himself, that's not my business."

Although the offer of clemency has not been withdrawn — Muladi saying that it is up to Budiman to accept it or not — Muladi has not responded to the call for amnesty.