Friday, June 24, 2005

Golkar backs Yorrys for Irian Jaya Barat elections

Yorrys Raweyai, a former leader of one of the country’s most feared "thugs-for-hire" groups, has registered himself as a candidate for the governorship of Irian Jaya Barat province. Reports said Yorrys and his running mate Abdul M. Killian were nominated by Golkar Party and two smaller parties, Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) and Indonesia Unity Party (PSI) for next month’s gubernatorial election, reported. Yorrys, of ethnic Chinese and Papuan background, was well known in the 1990s as deputy leader of Pemuda Pancasila, a youth organization that ran protection rackets and often carried out the dirty work of the military during former dictator Suharto’s regime.

Pemuda Pancasila, which gained notoriety for attacking pro-democracy groups, provoking violence and bribing people to vote for Golkar, has lost much of its power in the underworld following the fall of Suharto in 1998. In 2001, members of the group formed their own political party, the Pancasila Patriots’ Party, which came 15th out of the 24 parties that contested the 2004 general election, winning 0.95% of the vote and no seats in parliament.

Yorrys remained a member of Golkar and is now a leader of the party’s Youth Movement (AMPG). He and Killian registered as candidates on 24 June 2005 in the provincial capital Manokwari. Killian is currently a member of the Papua province legislative assembly and the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR). Asked about his policies, Yorrys said improving law enforcement was the key to achieving clean governance. He also promised to increase public health and education services.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who is also Golkar chairman, visited Manokwari earlier this month to attend a meeting in which Yorrys was nominated as the party’s candidate for governor. Kalla said Golkar remained the most popular political party throughout Papua because it had always kept its promises.

Yorrys has been accused of supplying funds to Papuan pro-independence leader, the late Theys Eluay, to create a 7,000-member militia group called Satgas Papua (Papua Task Force). Analysts feared the militia group would be used to conduct attacks that could allow the military to justify taking deadly retaliation against locals.

In April 2000, Yorrys was detained as a suspect in the July 27, 1996, government-sponsored attack on the Jakarta headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). Several people were killed in the attack that sparked massive riots. Yorrys was released in May 2000, ostensibly due to insufficient evidence and never taken to court. In December 2001, police said Suharto’s youngest son Hutomo ‘Tommy’ Mandala Putra had complained to investigators that Yorrys had reneged on a promise to safeguard him while he was wanted for murder, despite having been paid $5 million. Pemuda Pancasila denied the allegation, claiming Yorrys had never accepted any money from Tommy while he was a fugitive.


Yorrys Raweyai, a Jakarta resident born in Serui. His father, an ethnic Chinese merchant from Ujung Pandang, was considered a hero of the Indonesian cause because during the Dutch era he smuggled letters from pro-Indonesian Papuans aboard ships carrying his goods to Jakarta. Yorrys moved to Jakarta in the 1970s; a leader of the notorious, often violent, pro-government youth group Pemuda Pancasila, he became close to New Order political figures and eventually to members of the Soeharto family ... Yorrys continues to be a controversial figure. Because of his wealth and political connections he yields considerable influence in Papuan circles, as elsewhere in Indonesia, and is the leader of the traditional council for the Papuan community in Jakarta. The richest member of the Team of 100, he financed a welcoming ceremony for them at the airport in Jakarta and a press conference at the team's hotel following the meeting with Habibie on February 26, 1999. - Human Rights Watch, 2000

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