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Date Posted: 05:04:48 01/04/04 Sun
Author: John M Miller
Subject: Ersa Siregar's family comes to terms with his death

The Jakarta Post
Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Ersa Siregar's Family Comes to Terms With His Death

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The wife of slain journalist Sory Ersa Siregar had tried her best to prepare
their three children, aged 16, 18 and 19, long before the news of his death
came on Monday afternoon.

"If someday many people come around to this house, you will know that the
time has come for your father to go," Tuty Komala Bintang recalled telling her
children. The family's uncertainty lasted six months as Ersa, who worked for
private television station RCTI, was abducted along with cameraman Ferry
Santoro
on June 29 by members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Now Ferry's wife Maya
and their only son continue to wait for any news about him.

"I tried to prepare myself for the worst, but as I have to face it now, it
still hurts," Tuty added in tears late Monday at her home in Tangerang,
Banten.

Ersa was found dead on Monday. The military said he was killed during a
20-minute crossfire between marines and GAM fighters in Alue Matang Aron
village in
Simpang Ulim district, East Aceh.

Tuty recalled the last time her husband made contact with her was on Oct. 8,
asking her to take care of the children and encourage them to continue their
studies "no matter what". It was the second conversation that she would make
with Ersa after he and Ferry along with two Air Force officers' wives, were
intercepted by GAM members in Peureulak area, East Aceh.

Troopers later found Ferry's identity card along with Ersa's at the location
of Monday's firefight.

"I never felt that it would be the last time for me to hear his voice," Tuty
said. "Not even when I read reports a few weeks afterwards that the military
had bombarded the territory and that Ishak Daud (the East Aceh GAM leader)
lost
contact with his subordinates".

"I only heard that my husband was killed in a crossfire after my relatives
and neighbors told me so," Tuty said, adding that she was disappointed with
the
Indonesian Military (TNI) for having promised her that it would bring her
husband back alive.

Meanwhile, Ersa's eldest son Ridhwan Ermalamora, 19, said that he would not
blame the military nor the rebels over the incident. Indeed, he said that "I
can forgive GAM because anger will not bring my father back."

"I thank everyone who tried to seek solutions. Wasn't it true that
journalists sent a letter to President Megawati (Soekarnoputri) urging her
to consider
the best way to achieve my father's release ... well, that's OK, but that
letter could never bring my father back, could it?," the calm looking young
man
said, referring to the recent letter sent by the International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) to Megawati.

Ridhwan said that three days after Ersa was declared missing, Ersa contacted
his family to tell them that he was OK. "My father asked me to take care of my
brother and sister," Ridhwan said, referring to his siblings Syawaliddin Ade
Syafitra, 18, and Melliani Fauziah, 16.

Psychiatrist Sarlito Wirawan Sarwono said a feeling somewhat similar to
relief, "albeit a bitter one," given the end of waiting for months in anguish,
usually followed the engulfing feeling of grief over the loss of a loved
one in a
tragic death.

Sarlito further explained that eventually it would depend on each
individual's ability to accept the tragedy and overcome their feeling of
grief.

--------------------

The Jakarta Post
Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Condolences

We wish to express our deepest sympathy on the passing of Sory Ersa Siregar
(52 years of age) RCTI journalist, on Monday, December 29, 2003, while on duty
in East Aceh, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.

He was buried in Tangerang, Banten on December 30, 2003.

May God Almighty bless and keep him always.

The management and staff of The Jakarta Post.

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