JAKARTA, Indonesia—Families of Indonesian activists who were kidnapped and tortured by the military 25 years ago demanded justice in a protest and expressed shock over the apparent presidential victory of Prabowo Subianto, whom they blamed for the atrocities.

Currently the defense minister under outgoing President Jokowi Widodo, Mr. Subianto claimed victory in the recent presidential election based on unofficial tallies showing he won by a big margin.

Mr. Subianto, 72, was a top general and commander of the army’s special forces, called Kopassus. They were blamed for human rights abuses including the torture of 22 activists who had opposed Mr. Suharto, the authoritarian leader whose 1998 downfall amid massive protests restored democracy in Indonesia.

Standing in a downpour outside the presidential palace in the capital, Jakarta, relatives of the activists held posters with pictures of the generals they held responsible for the 1998 disappearances. One of the pictures showed Mr. Subianto.


“Mr. Prabowo, if you are going to be the president, please resolve the enforced disappearance cases so that we, the victims’ families, can have peace,” Paian Siahaan, 77, told The Associated Press.

His son, Munandar Siahaan, was one of the activists who were assaulted by soldiers as Suharto’s authoritarian rule collapsed. Munandar Siahaan and 12 others remain missing.

Another protester, Maria Catarina Sumarsih, 71, said her son was shot by security forces in 1998 in a university campus. She read a letter Feb. 15 addressed to Mr. Widodo that condemned Mr. Subianto’s election victory. His running mate, a vice presidential candidate, is Mr. Widodo’s eldest son.

Mr. Subianto expectedly avoided human rights issues in his campaign and benefitted from many voters’ focus on his promise to continue Mr. Widodo’s economic roadmap, Adhi Primarizki of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, a think tank in Jakarta, said.

“Unfortunately, human rights issues are not a popular issue in this election,” Mr. Primarizki said. Many voters were too young to witness human rights abuses in the Suharto era. (AP)