Tom Iljas on Indonesia Immigration during his deportation

Tom Iljas on Indonesia Immigration during his deportation

Indonesian government says tourists can be deported for recording their holiday! (Explanation for deporting Tom Iljas, refugee from 1965 genocide.)

Here is the full story, in English:

Regarding the Arbitrary Arrest and Examination of Tom Iljas on a Family Visit in West Sumatra

Tom Iljas (77 years old) was one of the technical students (agriculture mechanization) sent by the Pesisir Selatan Regency of West Sumatra in 1960 to continue his studies, but his homecoming was blocked and he was exiled because of the events associated with the 30 September tragedy in 1965. Since that time Tom Iljas has been a member of the Indonesian Diaspora in Sweden and become a Swedish citizen.

On October 10, 2015, Yulia Evina Bhara (‘ebe’, 33 years old), Tom Iljas (77), AI (81), AK (36), AM (41) and OP (35), a family member of Tom Iljas, left for Salido, Painan in the Pesisir Selatan Regency of West Sumatra to visit family graves. This was about three hours travel from the city of Padang.

On October 11, with a camera to document the family’s voyage, they visited the grave of Siti Mawar, Tom Iljas’s mother, at the Kampung Salido cemetery. Afterwards, they continued towards a location which is believed by local villagers to be a mass grave of 1965 victims, including the late father of Tom Iljas, Ilyas Raja Bungsu. Because they did not know the exact location of the mass grave, they approached the house of Mr. U (former owner of the land) and Mr. A, locals believed to know the location.

Arriving at the suspected location, AI requested permission to the new landowners to pray, who responded by asking Ms. AI to get permission from the village head who was also at the location. The village head did not grant permission. At the location, approximately 20 people, suspected to be intel, suddenly appeared and roughly photographed them while repelling them from the location. The visitors immediately decided to go home and cancel the trip to the grave of Tom Iljas’s father.

After taking Mr. U and Mr. A home, the group continued to Padang. Five kilometers later the car was suddenly blocked by police cars with plainclothes officers. The group’s car keys were taken away forcibly. Initially the police asked us got out of the car but we insist does not go down. Furthermore, the police took over the steering wheel and shift forcibly AM who was in the driver’s seat, the other policemen entered from another door. Furthermore, we were taken to the police station for interrogation the South Coast.

During the interrogation process and in written documents, there was no mention of any law being broken, but police continued to assert that the group were doing a documentary film in Padang and elsewhere about cruelty to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). During interrogation in the room, police were rotated, took pictures with a bright flash, and mocked the detained as ‘artists’, laughing to the Intel commander.

Ebe protested loudly to the Intel commander as the group was being treated like criminals, but the commander just laughed and said that the Police have a lot of supporters and continue to let them be photographed like common thieves. This was contradicting the Intel commander’s early claim that this was a security process.

All the group were interrogated. AI, an 81-year-old woman, was originally going to be interrogated as well, but the group refused in concern for her health, as she began to decline as a result of fatigue. Ebe also had an argument with the police because initially AI was given no place to lie down. The police eventually opened a room for her at the Polyclinic.

Because of objections to the legal proceedings take place, none of the group were willing to sign the police investigation report, but the police said they would not be released without signing. Finally, group agreed to sign, but after signature the police did not stop. The group’s car was searched, all items inside were confiscated and brought into the interrogation room. The police intimidated them by yelling and slamming the table. They took AK’s bag and unpacked his Laptop. After not finding anything and unable to operate the laptop, the police stopped searching for data on the laptop.

Police seized two memory cards that have previously been copied by them, taking the cards out of the interrogation room. ID cards and passports were confiscated.

The inspection process lasted from 4:00 pm until 5:00 am the next day. Ebe was the final person to be interrogated. The Intel commander also complained about Tom Iljas being a foreigner, even though they communicated using the mother tongue of Tom Iljas, the Minang language.

Tom Iljas’s citizenship then captured their interest. Tom Iljas was interrogated again later at 12:05 am (midnight) until 04:48 am.

Meanwhile, through limited communication Ebe managed to contact the director of the legal aid institute LBH Padang and also representatives of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM). Ebe also managed to communicate with the Swedish Embassy in Jakarta.

On the morning of October 12, a lawyer from LBH Padang, Wendra Rona Putra, and a representative of Komnas HAM Padang went to Pesisir Selatan Regency to meet the detained at the Pesisir Selatan police station. Meanwhile Mr. Nurkhoiron (a Komnas HAM Commissioner) had managed to contact the Pesisir Selatan police chief. The police chief denied that the group were arrested on grounds of making a documentary about the cruelty against victims of PKI (in the police’s words), but to protect the group because there was a commotion with the local community and there were problems with the citizenship status of one person in the group. According to the police chief, the group would be released but the foreigner would be interrogated first.

In the morning, the police had been joined by the army outside the interrogation room. Some of the soldiers came in saying they would conduct a search. Hearing this, Ebe contacted Alvon, the Director of the Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) by telephone. Speaking on loudspeaker, Alvon asked to speak with the commanding officer. The Intel commander refused to talk. Alvon continued via loudspeaker to list the detainees’ rights that were being violated by the police.

After Alvon’s monologue, the search did not proceed.

Around 10 am, Immigration officers came to the Pesisir Selatan police station and immediately met the Chief of Police. Wendra and representatives of Komnas HAM arrived at 12 noon.

When Wendra arrived the entire group of detainees was already exhausted, only having been allowed to go to the toilet. No other requests were allowed, Ms. AI was not even allowed to pray. Detained since 4pm the previous day, the police only provided the group with food at 2:00 am after they complained. On the morning too, they had to buy food from the police cafeteria and were only allowed one at a time.

Wendra immediately met the Intel commander to clarify the detainees position and express reservations over police treatment. In an apparent response at lunchtime, the police provided food even to an excessive amount.

Wendra was told by the Intel commander that the group was still be checked and he did not want to convey their status. The commander said the status would be determined by superiors, who were upstairs discussing with Immigration and the Pesisir Selatan Army Commander (DANDIM).

Komnas HAM meet the group in the room in the presence of the Intel commander. Ms. AI conveyed the chronology of events leading to the arrests. The Komnas HAM representative said that he would talk to the police chief and participate in meetings of this case.

At 3:00 pm Wendra back to the police and asked about when the group would be released. The Intel commander stated they were all free, there were no charges against them. Only Tom Iljas would be brought to immigration for an administrative matter (because he is a foreign national). He said a new police escort would arrive to take them out at 5.30 pm. The group rejected that option because it would mean the police detaining them for more than 24 hours for no apparent reason.

Finally at 4:00 pm the group was allowed to go to their hotel to wash, escorted by the Pesisir Selatan police and immigration. They then returned to the police station and were escorted by the police to the city of Padang. Upon arriving in Padang, the Immigration office said they would be questioned the next day. The group stayed in a hotel to await questioning at the Immigration office.

On the morning of Tuesday, October 13, 2015, the group went to the Padang Immigration Office, accompanied by lawyers from LBH Padang. Tom Iljas was questioned and the rest waited to be questioned as well as witnesses. At this time the group learned that the family of OP who lives in Padang had been visited by their local village head and were told that OP was involved in an activity harmful to the state. OP’s parents, who live in Pesisir Selatan, were visited by the village head and threatened to be labeled as former political prisoners, and to have ET (an abbreviation for ex-political prisoner) placed on their identity cards [as was the practice during the Suharto dictatorship].

At the Immigration office in Padang, Tom Iljas was questioned by immigration officers while still accompanied by Wendra of LBH Padang. At 12:00 the questioning stopped for a break, resuming at 1.30 pm. In the immigration questioning, Tom was very clear in his answers that the visit was of a personal nature, and his desire to visit his village (which could be the last time) to document his hometown for his children in Sweden, who have never been to his village.

Immigration pressed on the question of the documentation tool used by another member of the group (not even held by Tom Iljas). Although when this camera was examined, only pictures of landscapes, culinary arts and selfies were found. The immigration authorities stated that if for personal documentation, they should only use handphone cameras and according to the rules for tourist visas he should not document (record) his tour.

The questioning lasted until 18:00 and the Immigration office still did not make a decision.

The Immigration office initially requested to be given until Monday, October 19, 2015 to consider the case, but Tom Iljas expressed reservations, because of logistical difficulties in continuing to stay at the Hotel.

The Immigration office finally agreed to give a decision on Thursday, October 15 at 3:00 pm because they were waiting for a reply from a letter sent to the Director General of Immigration.

On October 14, 2015, AK, AM and AI left Padang since their entire examination was complete.

Ebe remained in Padang to accompany Tom along with LBH Padang.

On October 15, 2015, AM reported that the shop next to his parents’ house, which is the address on his ID card given to the police, was questioned by a person claiming to be from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN). The person identified himself as a soldier living at Gunung Sahari District military barracks named Zen, and asked about AM’s activities.

Ebe and AK also learned that their house was visited by a man claiming to be from the military, who was asking their neighbors if Ebe and AK lived in the house and what their activities were.

OP also reported that he had met the village head, and the village head had been asked by the sub-district military command to go to OP’s house to tell them that if OP continued his activities the family would have difficulties.

Meanwhile in Padang, West Sumatra:

At 3:00 pm, accompanied by Wendra and Aldy from LBH Padang and Ebe, Tom Iljas arrived at the Padang Immigration office. They had to wait 10 minutes while the decision was being reviewed. The investigator, Mr. Jeffry, said that the two recommendations had been given to their superiors:

1. Stop the examination

2. Deportation.

From the interrogation, it was conveyed that with Tom Iljas being on a tourist visa, he was entitled to capture beaches and natural beauty, including his own hometown.

Ten minutes later, they were given shocking news.


A statement from the group reads:

Tom Iljas was making a personal pilgrimage, possibly for the last time seeing the graves of his father and mother. His father’s grave is one of the mass graves documented by Komnas HAM’s investigations of the 1965 killings. But his desire has now been killed because his deportation was followed by being put on the blacklist, so Tom cannot return to Indonesia.

Tom Iljas, from the Minang people, a youth who was sent to represent Salido, dispossessed of his citizenship in 1965 and now in the twilight of his life, has been expelled from the land of his birth. By his own community. For us it is a crime against humanity.

In the afternoon after securing a plane ticket, Tom Iljas underwent photos and finished the administration for an exit permit. At 8:30 pm we left the city of Padang, escorted by two immigration officers who also participated to Jakarta. At 10 pm, Ebe, Tom Iljas and two immigration officers arrived in Jakarta. The Deputy Ambassador from Sweden met the group at the Soekarno Hatta airport’s arrival hall. He gave full support to Tom Iljas.

From the experience of Tom Iljas and the family and friends who accompanied his visit of family graves, we note that:

1. It has been more than 17 years of Reformasi [the reform process at the end of the Suharto dictatorship], but there are no signs of reform in the police relating to detention and investigation processes.

2. There are no changes at all for events related to the rights of 1965 victims to obtain truth. Proven by what happened to us, just to look at the mass graves of family members we still get terror and intimidation.

3. We recognize that what is happening is the result of efforts for reconciliation and the fulfillment of the rights of victims.

Therefore we also hope that:

1. The Government through the relevant ministries (Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs – Menkopolhukam) lifts the ban for Tom Iljas.

2. Provide justice for the 1965 victims and survivors, not intimidation and violence.

3. The government earnestly conducts a disclosure of the truth so that the rights of victims can be met.

We are issuing this open letter to call upon the government and law enforcement officials to ensure that similar incidents do not recur, and to demand protection for the local residents who helped us.

Through this open letter we also express our gratitude to our friends at YLBHI, Komnas HAM and LBH Jakarta LBH Padang and TIM KECIL in Jakarta working in confidence, and swiftly responding to our requests for legal assistance.

Statement Makers:

Tom Iljas, Yulia Evina Bhara (ebe), AK, AI, AM and OP


Yulia Evina (EBE): 081 282 275 648

Rona Wendra Putra LBH Padang: 081266044369