Press Release
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The 2012 Emilio F. Mignone International Human Rights Prize awarded to KontraS by the Embassy of Argentina

KontraS expresses its gratitude to the nation of Argentina, represented by the Ambassador of Argentina in Indonesia, Mr. Javier A. Sanz de Urquiza, and Argentine Embassy official Mr. Martin Via, for the honor of being selected the recipient of the 2012 Emilio F. Mignone International Human Rights Prize.

The “Emilio F. Mignone International Human Rights Prize” recognizes the work of Mr. Mignone, an Argentine activist. Mr. Mignone founded the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), which specialized in documenting kidnappings, murders and torture by the military and trying to file legal actions to establish accountability. The prize was established in 2007 by the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship to grant recognition to foreign institutions and/or individuals residing abroad that are making or have made an outstanding contribution towards the promotion and/or protection of human rights in their own countries in the fight against impunity in cases involving systematic violations of human rights, discrimination and social, economic and cultural rights, among other areas. Although other countries award human rights distinctions, the Mignone prize is the first one to be awarded by a developing country that has been conspicuous in this field because of its own historical and political context.

Past Recipients
2007 ASOFAMD--Asociacion de Familiares de Detenidos, Desaparecidos y Martires por la Liberacion Nacional de Bolivia
2008 CCJ--Comision Colombiana de Juristas
2009 WOLA--Washington Office on Latin America
2010 ZLHR--Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
2011 IRCT--Association International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims

Firstly, for KontraS, this award is recognition of and encouragement for our work in the fight for the value of humanity in the midst of “noisy and crowded” democratization politics in Indonesia. Since the social-political reformation that began in 1998,  the development of awareness of human rights has been very interesting. Recognition of human rights principles through the law is increasing, but its effectiveness still falls far below the expectations of victims, their families, and society.  The Indonesian government is still unwilling to deal with past human rights abuses cases. There is also the issue of lingering impunity for human rights violators. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pilay, recognized these shortcomings during her recent visit to Indonesia (November 13, 2012). Commissioner Pilay even mentioned the need for a resolution in the murder case of KontraS’ founder and coordinator (1998-2000), Munir. This remains true for so many other cases that resulted in enforced disappearances, mass killing, extra judicial killing and others crimes that occured but have never been properly addressed by the Indonesian legal system.

Secondly, KontraS notes that this recognition is not only for KontraS, but it is in appreciation for the victims and their families who have fought for truth and justice over the last 15 years. These include warriors for justice like Mr. Yap Pit Singae, the father of Yun Hap, a victim of the Semanggi II violence in 1999; the family of Ms. Amang, a victim from the violence in May 1998; Mr. Mulyono and Mr. Tjasman, two of thousands of political prisoners during the 1965 era; Mr. Rasmin, a victim from Talang Sari 1989; Mr. Makmur, a victim of Tanjung Priok 1984; and lastly, Mrs. Tuti Koto, who passed away on November 5, 2012, the mother of Yani Afri, a victim of forced disappearance 1997-1998 whose whereabouts are unknown to this day.  The names above are not just those of victims, or victim’s family members, but they are examples of those who have dedicated their lives to defend the sacred duty of humankind. They defend our humanity because humans have love: love for their children, their spouses, and their family...a moral responsibility towards justice.

Thirdly, we appreciate this recognition in particular because it comes from Argentina, a country that has struggled long and hard over the last thirty years, searching for victims of enforced disappearances and struggling to adjudicate the perpetrators of these crimes. Without a doubt, the struggle for victims in Argentina has not been easy. Inevitable ups and downs, from one regime to the next, undermine the energy and devotion of the victims and their families to the cause. This experience is very inspiring and educational for victims in Indonesia. We recognize this award as a form of empathy from the government of Argentina in our continuing stuggle against impunity in Indonesia.

In the future, we will continue to work eagerly to voice our support for the principles of human rights, justice, and anti-violance in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and across the world, wherever impunity is still practiced, violence continues to be displayed and policies continue to be made which reduce the freedom and welfare of our global society.       

Jakarta, November 14, 2012
Haris Azhar--Coordinator
On behalf of KontraS

(Members, Board and the Executive Committee of KontraS)