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Joint Statement on Accountability
in the Run-up to the Indonesian Presidential Elections
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras)
As Indonesia prepares for its second direct presidential election on July 8, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) together urge the Indonesian government, its citizens, and the international community to highlight past human rights violations and to push the next Indonesian administration to end impunity for human rights violators.
We are especially concerned about the well-documented human rights records of some of the candidates, including vice presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto. Prabowo, vice-presidential candidate for Megawati Sukarnoputri, was commander of Indonesia's special forces unit Kopassus from 1995 to 1998. Under his command, Kopassus kidnapped and disappeared a group of student activists during the last part of the dictator Suharto's rule. For this, he was later forced to retire by a military court. He also presided over brutal actions by Kopassus in occupied East Timor, including the torture, kidnapping and killings of independence supporters.
Wiranto, vice-presidential candidate for Jusuf Kalla, was commander of Indonesia's military during the tumultuous period of 1998 and 1999, when Suharto was pushed from power by widespread demonstrations and elite disillusionment with his rule. The military and its militias wreaked havoc in East Timor during its vote for independence. For his role, Wiranto was indicted for crimes against humanity by the UN-backed serious crimes process.
Kontras and ETAN are concerned that should either of these candidates assume office, their past crimes will impede the next president's ability to satisfactorily resolve outstanding cases of human rights violations by Indonesia's security forces and hinder the critical movement toward military reform and accountability. Almost certainly Wiranto and Prabowo's own impunity would continue for human rights and war crimes.
Under the current Yudhoyono administration, progress in the major human rights cases has been halting at best and military reform efforts have stalled. Also a former general, he has shown only a limited commitment to expanding human rights. Human rights violations have escalated in Papua. The involvement of the highest levels of the government's intelligence agency in the assassination of human rights activist Munir, who was murdered just prior to Yudhoyono taking office, has yet to be satisfactorily resolved. President Yudhoyono once declared the Munir case a "test case for whether Indonesia has changed."
As the legal process has stalled in a number of important cases, the installation of a presidential team which respects human rights and can inject new momentum into these cases is critical. The international community can greatly assist efforts for genuine accountability and military reform by restricting military assistance to Indonesia. Together Indonesia's government, its citizens, and the international community must push for human rights accountability no matter who assumes office.
Usman Hamid (Indonesia) +62 811 812 149
John M. Miller (United States) +1-718-596-7668; +1-917-690-4391