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Saturday, October 10, 1998 Published at 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK

Indonesian rape counsellor murdered

Family members mourn beside Martadinata Haryono's coffin

A young ethnic Chinese Indonesian woman who had been counselling women raped during rioting in May has been found murdered at her home in Jakarta.

The body of Martadinata Haryono, 17, was found by her father on Friday night.

[ image: Rights groups say more than 160 ethnic Chinese were raped]
Rights groups say more than 160 ethnic Chinese were raped
She died of multiple stab wounds. A report in the Indonesian evening newspaper Suara Pembaruan said a police autopsy indicated she may also have been raped.

Miss Haryono and her mother both worked for Volunteers for Humanity, one of several groups established to counsel ethnic Chinese victims of the May unrest.

It was one of the first groups to bring attention to the issue of mass rapes.

Joint prayers

[ image: Miss Haryono had gained the trust of many traumatised women]
Miss Haryono had gained the trust of many traumatised women
On Saturday, clerics of five different religions led joint prayers for Miss Haryono at a seminar on violence against women.

The director of the Indonesian Women's Association for Justice Nursyahbani Katjasungkana said the message behind her murder was clear: "To stop Volunteers of Humanity from promoting human rights."

Human rights groups say that at least 168 women, mostly ethnic Chinese, were raped during the unrest in Indonesia, which killed 1,200 people and led to the resignation of President Suharto.

Climate of fear

They say up to 20 rape victims died of their injuries or committed suicide, and many survivors were too afraid to testify.

[ image: Protesters celebrate Suharto's resignation, but many Chinese suffered]
Protesters celebrate Suharto's resignation, but many Chinese suffered
But Armed forces chief General Wiranto said last week that a lengthy inquiry by the government and military had failed to find evidence of rapes during the riots.

On Tuesday, activists from several groups complained of receiving death threats if they disclosed details of the rapes.

Associates said Miss Haryono and her mother had been preparing to travel to the US with some of the rape victims to testify before a human rights body. They said they saw the murder as a warning.

Deadly message

[ image: General Wiranto: No hard evidence about rapes]
General Wiranto: No hard evidence about rapes
"The murderer intended to send us a message that they could really kill," said Karlina Leksono of the Volunteers for Humanity.

"People will now be afraid to tell anyone what happened during the riots. This is terrorising for Indonesia's ethnic Chinese," said Ester Indahyani Jusuf Lubis, leader of Serambi Nusa Bangsa, a group formed to fight racial discrimination.

During the May riots many businesses and homes of the ethnic Chinese minority were targeted by mobs.

The reports of mass rapes outraged Chinese communities around the world and resulted in calls for tough action by the governments of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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Internet Links

Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights

VOICE - Victimization Of Indonesian of Chinese Ethnicity

Human Rights Watch USA: Attacks on Ethnic Chinese Women in Indonesia, What You Can Do

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