Indonesia's Ex-Dictator Suharto Buried
Monday, January 28, 2008; 1:33 AM
SOLO, Indonesia -- Former Indonesian dictator Suharto, a U.S. Cold War ally whose military regime killed hundreds of thousands of left-wing opponents, was buried Monday at a state funeral with full military honors as tens of thousands mourned.
Throngs of Indonesians lined the streets to watch a motorcade carry his body to the family mausoleum. Many sobbed and called out the name of the man whose three-decade rule, though harsh, brought stability and economic growth to Indonesia.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono led a ceremony televised live across the nation from the mausoleum near Suharto's hometown of Solo, some 250 miles east of the capital. After a reading of Suharto's military accomplishments, a shot was fired in his honor and Yudhoyono offered a salute.
"We offer his body and his deeds to the motherland," Yudhoyono said. "His service is an example to us."
Islamic prayers were said and as his body was lowered, mourners tossed flower petals into his grave. A military band played a dirge.
Suharto died Sunday of multiple organ failure after more than three weeks on life support at a Jakarta hospital. He was 86.
Yudhoyono had already declared a week of national mourning and called on Indonesians "to pay their last respects to one of Indonesia's best sons."
"He was a great man," said Sumartini, 65, who came from a nearby village with her four children to watch the funeral procession. "His death touched us deeply."
Suharto loyalists, who run the courts, called for forgiveness and a clearing of his name. But survivors want those responsible for atrocities to be held accountable.
"I cannot understand why I have to forgive Suharto because he never admitted his mistakes," said Putu Oka Sukanta, who spent a decade in prison because of his left-wing sympathies.
Suharto was finally toppled by mass street protests in 1998 at the peak of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.
His departure from office opened the way for democracy in this predominantly Muslim nation of 235 million people, and he withdrew from public life, rarely venturing from his comfortable Jakarta villa.