Press Release
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Subject : The Democratic Party’s Position on Human Rights

 To the honorable

Mr. Hadi Utomo, S.H., M.M
Head of the Democratic Party (PD)

Dear Mr. Utomo,

We, the families of victims joined together in the Victims’ Families Solidarity Network, are pleased that the legislative elections were generally peaceful and took place without significant acts of violence. The process, however, was not without faults, and were especially disappointed by the problems with the voters list (DPT). We hope that the presidential election will take place in a similarly peaceful manner. We also hope for a significant strengthening of the people’s agenda and human rights for the upcoming presidential campaign.

We hope that political parties, in the midst of their competition, will consider human rights issues, especially in pushing for the resolution of past human rights violations. The Democratic Party has led the government for the last five years, and in the coming five years the Democratic Party will also make up the majority of the parliament. Progress (or retreat) in the human rights agenda and the resolution of past human rights cases depends on the policies and attitude of the Democratic Party.

However, in the current contest we are worried that the Democratic Party is taking shortcuts towards gaining more power by disregarding cases of human rights violations. It has used a human rights agenda for political purposes, which does not give a feeling of justice for the victims.

We believe President Yudhoyono has not been resolute in solving past human rights cases, and additionally has ignored the victims of the 2006 mud flow tragedy in Sidoardjo. When President Yudhoyono met with victims’ families on March 28, 2008, he made a commitment to solve past human rights cases. The weekly vigils held every Thursday by victims’ families, undertaken 108 times so far, have also not yet received a response from the Democratic Party-led government.

Another worrying development is the emergence of Prabowo from the Gerindra Party and Wiranto from Hanura Party as candidates for vice-president. Official government documents have identified Prabowo and Wiranto as responsible parties in several human rights cases from the past, including the activist kidnappings in 1997-98, Semanggi I and II, the May 1998 tragedy and violations in East Timor. The government has failed up to this point to break the chains of impunity, meaning that those who should be asked to take responsibility for their actions can now put themselves forward as candidates for national office.

In this context, we remind you that human rights violators are now  considered enemies of mankind (hostis humanis generis)  in international law. This means that those committing evil acts cannot use their position as President or Vice-President to protect themselves from prosecution. We remind the political parties that leaders such as Augusto Pinochet, Charles Taylor, Saddam Hussein, Omar al-Bashir and others have been singled out by the international community to be held responsible for their violations. We hope that we will not have a similar experience with a future leader of our country. Human rights violators, no matter who they are or when they committed their acts, will not be free from the law, especially international human rights law ( the no safe haven principle). Power cannot be used as a shield to maintain impunity.   

Based on the analysis above, first, we ask that the Democratic Party not get caught up with short-term political issues and ignore a pro-people and pro-human rights agenda.
We hope that victims of human rights violations can channel their aspirations through the Democratic Party, especially in the solving of cases of the past. Second, we hope you can work together with other political parties that have a full commitment to the respect, protection, and fulfillment of human rights. Third, we especially hope that the Democratic Party can take concrete steps to solve the cases as a sign of their commitment to human rights.

We remind you that power must be used to help the welfare of all the people, and not as a betrayal of their welfare. It should be used to fulfill the people’s prosperity and security, and work towards justice and truth. We hope that the coalitions formed by the political powers are not just based on the divvying up of power but also on an agenda of economic, social, and civil-political rights.   

Thank you for your attention and cooperation.

Jakarta, May 4, 2009

Tuti Koto, Family member of a kidnapping and forced disappearance victim
Sumarsih,  Family member of a Trisakti Semanggi victim
Ruminah, , Family member of the May 1998 tragedy victim
Suciwati, Family member of the killed human rights activist Munir
Bedjo Untung, Victim of the 1965/1966 tragedy
Kabul, , Family member of a Talangsari 1989 victim
Nurhasanah, Family member of a kidnapping and forced disappearance victim
Irta Sumitra, Victim of the Tanjung Priok 1984 massacre
Amang, Family member of the May 1998 tragedy victim
Benny Biki, Family member of a victim of Tanjung Priok
Wanmayeti, Family member of a victim of Tanjung Priok