May 1998 riots


May 22, 2022

The May 1998 riots were racial riots against ethnic Chinese that occurred in Indonesia on May 13–May 15 1998, particularly in the capital city of Jakarta but also occurred in several other areas. The riots were preceded by the Asian financial crisis and triggered by the Trisakti tragedy in which four Trisakti University students were shot and killed during a demonstration on 12 May 1998. This also resulted in the demotion of President Suharto, as well as the inauguration of B. J. Habibie.


During this riot, many shops and companies were destroyed by the mob—especially those belonging to Indonesians of Chinese descent. The greatest concentration of riots occurred in Jakarta, Medan and Surakarta. There were hundreds of women of Chinese descent who were raped and sexually abused in the riots. Some were even gang raped, brutally tortured, then killed. During the riots, many Indonesians of Chinese descent left Indonesia. Not only that, a volunteer humanitarian activist working under Father Sandyawan, named Ita Martadinata Haryono, who is still an 18 year old high school student, was also raped, tortured, and killed for his activities. This is an indication that the rape cases in the riots were carried out systematically, not only sporadically. The mob riots scared shop owners in both cities and wrote their shop faces with the words "Indigenous property" or "Pro-reform" because the attackers were only focus on Chinese people. Some of them were not caught, but some were found not to belong to the natives. Some people associate this event with the Kristallnacht incident in Germany on November 9, 1938 which became the starting point for the persecution of the Jews and culminated in the systematic mass killing of them in almost all of Europe by the Nazi German government. Indonesia has not taken any action against the names that are considered to be the keys to the May 1998 riots. The government issued a statement stating that no concrete evidence could be found for the rape cases, but this statement was denied by many parties. it is still shrouded in obscurity and controversy to this day. However, in general, the Indonesian people as a whole agree that this event is a black sheet in Indonesian history, while some parties, especially the Chinese, think that this is an act of extermination (genocide) against the Chinese people, although it is still controversial whether this incident was an event that was arranged systematically. systematized by the government or the development of provocations in certain circles to spread to the community.

Investigation and investigation

Shortly after the incident ended, a Joint Fact Finding Team (TGPF) was formed to investigate this matter. The TGPF issued a report known as the "TGPF Report." Regarding the perpetrators of provocation, arson, abuse, and sexual harassment, the TGPF found that there were a number of individuals who based on their appearance suspected of having military backgrounds. Some parties speculated that the then Commander of the Armed Forces (Wiranto) and the Pangdam Jaya Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin had allowed or even been actively involved in provoking this riot. In 2004 Komnas HAM questioned the case to the Attorney General's Office but as of March 1, 2004 had not received a response from the Attorney General's Office.

Penal Code Amendment Prosecution

In May 2010, Andy Yentriyani, Chair of the Community Participation Sub-Commission at the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), requested that amendments be made to the Criminal Code. According to Andy, the Criminal Code only regulates the act of rape in the form of penetration of the male genitalia into the female genitalia. But at k