Activists Call on Wise  Men to Solve Historic Human  Rights Abuses
Activists from the Victims Solidarity Network for Justice (JSKK) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) held their 436th Kamisan, a silent protest held every Thursday to push the government to settle historic human rights abuses, across the from the State Palace on March. 24. The families of the victims rejected the government's plan to focus on reconciliation in the settlement of the historic violations instead of taking the perpetrators to court. (Antara/Wahyu Putro)

Activists Call on Wise Men to Solve Historic Human Rights Abuses

Activists are urging the government to form an independent commission made up of civilian “wise men” to push for a legal settlement of Indonesia’s historic human rights abuses to bring justice to the victims and their families.

The commission’s members must be representatives of the public and not public officials from institutions involved in the violations, the human rights advocacy group Setara Institute suggested.

Setara and family members of victims of past human rights abuses held a closed door meeting with the Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres) to convey to it the proposed formation of a Presidential Commission on the Disclosure of Truth and the Recuperation of Victims on Tuesday.

“It’s impossible for governmental elements or officials to be part of this commission because in this case the state itself is subject to law that holds it responsible for historic human rights abuses, even though the current government is not the actual offender,” Setara’s deputy chairman, Bonar Tigor Naipospos said.

Together the activists met with Wantimpres chairwoman Sri Adiningsih and member Sidarto Dabusubroto to create a commission consisting of well-informed civilians, and not government officials, in the pursuit of a judicial resolution of seven main cases of violations.

The commission’s duties would be to validate data that has been investigated by the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to see what can be taken to court and handled judicially, or alternatively, for the government to issue a formal apology by way of reconciliation.

The ad-hoc committee would be under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo with the authority to produce binding presidential decrees, Bonar said.

Jokowi has repeatedly reiterated his commitment to settling historic rights abuses that have been declared gross human rights violations by Komnas HAM.

The formation of the commission comes in response to a long-delayed bill on truth and reconciliation that is before the House of Representatives, which is apparently an alternative way in case government officials fail to find a better solution for all.

The selection of the committee members itself would be the prerogative of the President, Bonar said, adding that the backgrounds of the members would be important.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that the government aimed to settle all human rights violations cases by early May through reconciliation only and not through judicial processes because there was a lack of evidence. Such a deadline was “absurd”, Bonar said.
Setara chairman Hendardi also derided Luhut’s statement, calling it overly ambitious, hasty and unrealistic, as well as unacceptable to the families of the victims who sought for justice.

“There would be no reconciliation without the revelation of the truth,” Hendardi said.
Human rights groups and families of the victims are pushing for the resolution of the cases judicially as stipulated in the 2000 law on human rights courts.

Hendardi admitted that with the case of the 1965 communist purge, a judicial settlement would be difficult because of a scarcity of proof and witnesses.

However, he underlined other newer cases must be resolved at court with transparent legal procedures.
Maria Katarina Sumarsih, member of the the Victims Solidarity Network for Justice (JSKK), said her community, along with the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), recently held its 436th Kamisan (a silent protest held every Thursday) across from the State Palace.

The protesters will continue to do so until the government takes concrete steps.

Maria, whose son Bernardus Realino Norma Irawan died in the First Semanggi tragedy in 1998, said the solving of the Semanggi cases could set a precedent as a step forward toward a positive future when the government would be proactive in addressing issues to clear the history.

The unresolved cases consist of a 1989 massacre in Talangsari, Lampung, the forced disappearance of anti-Soeharto activists in 1997 and 1998, the 1998 Trisakti University shootings, the Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in 1998 and 1999, the mysterious killings of alleged criminals in the 1980s, the communist purges of 1965 and various abuses that took place in Wasior and Wamena in Papua in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

Source : The Jakarta Post

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