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Ita Martadinata Haryono: Unsolved Murder of a Chinese Lady who Fought against Series of Mass Rapes

Ita Martadinata Haryono: A Brave Lady who Voiced against Series of Mass Rapes that Haunted China

The certainty of rape cases against Chinese women during the 20th century seemed covered up, considered unclear and became a topic of gossip. Even the then president of Indonesia, BJ Habbie, who succeeded Suharto, failed to trust and believe in the mass rapes prevalent during the time.

Martadinata Haryono, a Chinese woman nicknamed Ita, born in 1980, was murdered when she reached 18 during the May tragedy. When the Volunteer Team for Humanity (TRuK) conducted an investigation and assisted the victims of rape and other sexual assaults, Ita joined the activity with her mother, who actively provided counseling sessions to these victims.

The efforts of TRuK in investigating and exposing the rape incidents proved difficult, and the victims and witnesses of the incidents faced death threats against themselves and other members of their families through anonymous telephone calls and letters. The threat included a warning forbidding them to report rape events, especially those occurring in May 1998.

It was found dead in her room on October 9, 1998, in Central Jakarta, four days before Ita left for the United States to testify about the May 1998 rape incidents before the United Nations. Although Ita and her family faced numerous death threats, the police denied the involvement of Ita and her mother’s activities in TRuK as the cause of their murder. Before she was killed, it is suspected that her perpetrator raped Ita in her house or room.

Her blood was found splattered everywhere on the floors and walls. Her body was found naked, with her neck broken and slashed with an old knife. The post-mortem results of RSCM hospital stated that besides slitting her neck, Ita was stabbed in her abdomen, chest and right arm ten times.

The state'smother's denial of Ita's death not only destroyed the creditability of the victim in the eyes of the public but also strengthened the culture of rejection of the rape incidents that occurred in the state, making it difficult to disclose several other rape incidents. The testimony of a victim's companion When the TGPF held a session for hearing the victim's statements, the victim's friend planned to bring out nine witnesses, including doctors.

However, they were discouraged from attending the session as they were afraid of the death threats and with the assassination of Ita Martadinata, the spread of fear became more pronounced.

Father Sandyawan Sumadri, post-Ita's death, who was representing TRuK, gave a press statement declaring that the assassination of Ita was a witness of the truth and the victims of the state crime. He continued his speech, stating that instead of counting the number of victims, the state should embrace them as humans, which broke down over the years, thereby eliminating human rights.

He described the victims as witnesses of the truth who never stopped calling for a lawsuit against all the perpetrators going against humanity. "They are human figures," he says, "who become the cornerstone of a new civilization-building. Therefore, we want to try to unite the screams of hope of every victim".

The incident of Ita's assassination was not only described as a pure crime, but even the police also investigated the sexual behavior of the victim and stated that she had been engaged in several sexual activities before the event of the May 1998 tragedy. She was killed because she was suspected of being one of the victims of the May 1998 rape incidents.

Some people argue that Ita was murdered simply to cause terror among the citizens. Although there were several terrorist actions against the volunteers earlier, which prohibited further investigation into the rape cases, however, Ita's murder made the spread of the death threats more apparent. However, the police investigations assumed that Suryadi, a drug addict and Ita Martadinata's neighbor murderer her for robbing her house.

The police knew the action was a form of terror because they failed to identify the neighbor, find him, and nobody knew where Ita's neighbor went. The police department closed the case considering it an ordinary crime.

The volunteer team believed that Ita Martadinata Haryono's murder was intended to cause threats amongst those involved in humanitarian activities and to stop their activities. The volunteer team previously had a press conference and explained the threatening messages received by some of the volunteers, the contexts of which were declared being eliminated provided the activists forbade stopping their assistance in international investigations of rape, murder, and arson of Chinese female victims related to the May 1998 riots.

By 2003, the commission's follow-up investigations reached a damning conclusion. The Indonesian Government failed to carry out the analysis any further. The victims, most of them being the ethnic Chinese minority of the country, were forced to live in a society that denied the occurrences of the rapes, especially those of the May 1999 tragedy. Five years later, the report concluded that the survivors hadn't found justice, and even after 21 years of the rapes, the story remains unchanged.

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