Indonesia has released 10,000 political prisoners who had been held for years without trial. There?
Indonesia has released 10,000 political prisoners who had been held for years without trial. There release was seen as a move to erase the memory of a bloody coup attempt 12 years ago, and President Suharto's desire to improve Indonesia's cool relation with Communist countries. All the released prisoners were alleged to have Communist links.
SYNOPSIS: The prisoners were among 1,500 people set free from the remote penal island of Buru. During their 12 years of captivity, they were forced to grow their own food in the swamps and jungle of the tropical island.
Abdul Rahman Atmosudirjo, a Minister under former President Sukarno, was among those released from Buru which forms part of the Holuccan group of islands and lies more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.
The prisoners were given new clothes and leather shoes before they walked to freedom. Their departure for Surabaya, Java, and Christmas reunion with their families was the most dramatic part of President Skuharto's programme to erase the memory of the coup. Over half million people died in its violet aftermath.
The prisoners were taken in boats from 22 open camps on the island to the port of Namlea and put on board two Warships leaving for Surabaya.
The 10,000 prisoners were set free across the country in a move which could help improve Indonesia's ties with Communist countries.
On their release, they repeated an oath of allegiance which condoned all government actions against them. It ended with the words: "I swear, without any pressure from any one and of my own free will".
All pledged loyalty to the government of President Suharto and denounced Communism.
The government has said that prisoners who are not accepted back into their families and do not find employment in their home towns will be resettled outside Java which is over populated. Unemployment in Indonesia is high.