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Indonesia's Suharto has state funeral in royal city

GIRIBANGUN, Indonesia - Former Indonesian President Suharto, whose 32 years in power were marred by graft and rights abuses, was buried near the royal city of Solo in a state funeral with full military honours on Monday.

Tens of thousands of people lined the roads in Jakarta and around Solo in Central Java, hoping to catch a last glimpse of the man who came from a humble background but ruled his subjects like a Javanese king.

Soldiers carry the coffin of former Indonesian president Suharto as they leave his residence in Jakarta January 28, 2008. (REUTERS/Resmi Malau)

The body was flown from the capital to Solo, then driven to the family mausoleum at Giribangun, 35 km northeast of the city, close to the burial grounds of Solo's kings.

Ousted in 1998 in a student-led protest amid social and economic chaos, Suharto died in hospital on Sunday aged 86 after suffering multiple organ failure.

Praised by many as a visionary who helped modernise his country, he was also heavily criticised for widespread corruption and human rights abuses.

"Father is only human, who has weaknesses and strengths and is not exempted from mistakes. If he has done good, may Allah multiply the goodness. If he has made mistakes, may Allah forgive," Suharto's eldest daughter, Siti Hadijanti Rukmana, also known as Tutut, said at the funeral.

"Ladies and gentlemen, if father has made any mistakes, please forgive him. Farewell father," she said, tears running down her face.


Suharto's coffin was lowered into his grave, next to that of his wife, who died in 1996, and one salvo was fired at the funeral ceremony, led by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"I on behalf of the nation and the Indonesian military, surrender the body and soul of Haji Muhammad Suharto to the soil of the motherland," said Yudhoyono.

Tens of thousands of people, many with handheld TV cameras and cellphone cameras in their hands, turned out to see the funeral procession.

Some waved as the hearse went by, others threw flowers. In the cemetery, the air was heavy with the scent of jasmine.

"We feel a great loss because he has brought progress to this nation. In terms of his wrongdoings, well, every human makes mistakes," said Sukiman, who came to watch with his wife.

At the family mausoleum, police and soldiers lined the streets, and flags flew at half-mast.

Suharto, the son of a minor official from a small village in central Java, married Siti Hartinah, a member of one of Solo's royal families.

The Suharto family mausoleum at Giribangun, built on a hilltop surrounded by trees, is only a few hundred feet from the Mangkunegaran royal family's tomb where the first, second, and third Mangkunegaran kings were buried.

National television broadcast the funeral live, accompanied by a famous Indonesian song mourning the loss of a war hero.


Suharto's admission to hospital in a critical condition earlier this month sparked a national debate over his legacy.

Some Indonesians argued his errors should be forgiven, while others urged the state to press ahead with a civil suit against him for graft, and to consider legal proceedings for rights abuses. Suharto and his family had denied any wrongdoing.

Human Rights Watch urged the Indonesian government to hold accountable those responsible for the Suharto regime's human rights abuses.

"Suharto has gotten away with murder -- another dictator who's lived out his life in luxury and escaped justice," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"But many of Suharto's cronies are still around, so the Indonesian government should take the chance to put his many partners in human rights abuse on trial."

Suharto rose to power after he led the military in 1965 against what was officially called an attempted communist coup. Up to 500,000 people were killed in an anti-communist purge in the months that followed.

Over the next three decades, Suharto's armed forces committed numerous human rights abuses, killing student activists, criminals, and opponents to the regime in the rebellious provinces of Aceh and Papua, as well as in East Timor, which Indonesia invaded in 1975.

An Indonesian NGO, the Commission for Disappeared Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, expressed its condolences at Suharto's death but also called on Indonesians not to forget the past.

"The death of Suharto should create momentum for the government to work harder to uncover the truth and try the perpetrators" of human rights abuses and corruption, Kontras said in a statement.

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