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

To the honorable

Megawati Soekarnoputri
Head of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)

Dear Mrs. Soekarnoputri,

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, the families of the victims of human rights violations 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. PDI-P has shown concern towards the legal process in cases of grave human rights violations, especially in the work of the PDI-P faction in parliament regarding the Trisakti and Semanggi I dan II (TSS) cases and the kidnapping/disappearances of activists in 1997-98. In parliamentary committees, the PDI-P faction has always taken the lead position in discussing these cases.

As a party that emerged during the repression of the New Order regime, PDI-P is not limited to the distinguishing factors between the old PDI and the new PDI-P. It is also part of the struggle against all forms of oppression.

However, in the current contest we are worried that PDI-P is taking shortcuts towards gaining more power by disregarding cases of human rights violations. The issue of a coalition of PDI-P and the Gerindra and Hanura parties is casting a shadow over its commitment to human rights issues in the future. 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. If this coalition happens, it means that all the work of PDI-P is taking up human rights issues in parliament has been meaningless. 

In another side we need to remind all political parties 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 hope that PDI-P does not get caught up with short-term political issues and ignore a pro-people and pro-human rights agenda. We hope that in the future, PDI-P will continue to be a party through which victims of human rights violations can channel their aspirations, and push for the solving of past cases - as shown by its members in parliament. We are sure that the choice of the people of PDI-P is linked with the hopes to solve these cases of human rights violations. We can see PDI-P’s attitude to human rights from the many pro-human rights activist candidates put forward in the last legislative election.

Second, we hope that PDI-P maintains distance from human rights violators in the election. 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.  

Jakarta, 30 April 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
Saeful Hadi, victim of the Tanjung Priok massacre