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Victims of Indonesia's 1965 Violence May Have to Wait for Justice

Sumber: THEJAKARTAGLOBE.COM | Tgl terbit: Rabu, 25 Juli 2012

Despite a landmark ruling from the National Commission on Human Rights on Monday confirming that there were serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the communist purge which followed the failed 1965 coup, its victims might still have to wait before justice is served.

It is thought that up to half a million people died in the purge targeting the suspected members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), sparked by an attempt to overthrow the country's founding President Sukarno.

In the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt, Maj. Gen. Suharto mobilized his forces and effectively took control of the country. He would eventually become president and serve for more than 30 years.

Attorney General Basrief Arief said he welcomed the investigation led by the commission, also known as the Komnas HAM, but warned that resurrecting a case that happened nearly 50 years ago was no simple matter.

"A [case] which happened before the year 2000 requires [an ad-hoc rights tribunal] as stipulated by law," Basrief said on Tuesday.

An ad-hoc human rights tribunal is formed under a recommendation by the House of Representatives and endorsed by a presidential decree.

Basrief said he would "wait and see" before conducting his own investigation.

â??It is [Komnas HAMâ??s] job to conduct an investigation. Once it is over, of course, they will hand it over to us [for prosecution]," he said.

The Attorney General's Office may not have to wait long for a House recommendation, with several lawmakers already urging a prosecution into the case.

â??The Attorney General's Office must take the lead so that domestically the rule of law is established," Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Eva Kusuma Sundari said.

The international community is watching how Indonesia deals with its violent past, Eva continued.

"If we fail, then there is a chance that [the case] will be brought to the International Criminal Court in the Hague," the legislator said.

Eva added that if the ICC took over the case from Indonesia, it would prove that the country's judicial system was no longer trustworthy in the international arena and show the high level of impunity for those involved.

The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Jakarta-based rights group, has questioned the AGO's seriousness in investigating past crimes against humanity, particularly those which occurred under Suharto's iron-fisted rule.

"There are five cases of gross human rights violation which never got investigated [by the AGO]," Kontras anti-impunity division chief Yati Andriani said.

The cases have all been investigated by Komnas HAM, including the 1997-98 kidnapping of student activists and the shooting of several student demonstrators following the ouster of Suharto in 1998 and 1999.

"The AGO should have started their investigation without first waiting for an ad-hoc tribunal to be formed," Yati said.

The PDI-P is also urging a political resolution into the case as the human rights investigation continues.

The party's deputy secretary general Ahmad Basarah said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono must issue an apology on behalf of the government and ensure that the victims' good name was reinstated.

"President SBY should then stage a reconciliation forum so parties involved can seek forgiveness and closure, closing a dark chapter of our history," he said.

"We need reconciliation like this so this nation and future generations will not inherit differences and feuds from the older generation ... as well as to not let history repeat itself."

After a four-year investigation, the rights commission found sufficient preliminary evidence of serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity, said Nurkholis, who headed the investigation team.

He said the preliminary findings showed incidents of murder, extermination, slavery, eviction or forced eviction, deprivation of freedom, torture, rape and abuse.

"These acts were part of attacks launched against civilians according to the rulersâ?? policy," Nurkholis said.

Although he declined to provide names, Komnas HAM did not hesitate to point its finger at the Command for the Restoration of Security and Public Order (Kopkamtib), the pervasive security network set up by Suharto following the 1965 coup attempt

"The military command or officials who failed to control their forces effectively to prevent, stop or take action against human rights violations are responsible for the incident," Nurkholis said.

Nurkholis also called on Yudhoyono to take over the case to provide justice for the survivors.

Bejo Untung, who survived the violence, urged the president to follow up on the findings and apologize to all the victims and their families.



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