Before he was elected president, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo introduced his vision and mission statements and a supporting nine-priority agenda, Nawacita. The fourth program on the agenda, law enforcement, sets a priority on the “protection of human rights and fair settlement of past cases of human rights violations”.
Asvi Warman Adam
Kyoto, Japan | December 10 2014 | 10:32 AM
Before he was elected president, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo introduced his vision and mission statements and a supporting nine-priority agenda, Nawacita. The fourth program on the agenda, law enforcement, sets a priority on the “protection of human rights and fair settlement of past cases of human rights violations”. Evidently, a minister with a lack of care about finding ways to deal with past issues has not read the Nawacita.
Of all violations of human rights in the history of Indonesia recorded between 1945 and 2000, the one that gets the most attention is the mass killings of 1965, where 500,000 people were murdered. The Dutch, during their 350-year existence in the archipelago, killed 125,000 locals, 75,000 of them in Aceh — a total much less than the number of Indonesians slaughtered by their compatriots. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has prepared a pro-justicia inquiry on the 1965 gross crimes against humanity, and the Attorney General’s Office should seriously follow up on the findings to ensure that the Nawacita programs run.
Cases related to the 1965 events have remained unresolved with neither comprehensive, nor just settlements initiated and in place.
For the near future, there are several initiatives the President may consider taking, including issuing a state apology for the mistakes committed by the state and responding to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
First, the President should apologize to thousands of Indonesian patriots whose citizenship had been stripped following the Sept. 30, 1965 coup attempt blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). In the 1960s, president Sukarno sent thousands of Mahid, an acronym for state-funded students with mandatory term of service after graduation, to study abroad to help promote the development of science and technology.
Accused of supporting Sukarno, these students had their passports revoked and as a result lost their
citizenship. Although most of them had changed nationality, they would still enthusiastically celebrate Indonesian Independence Day at Indonesian embassies by, among others, reading of the Pancasila. The majority of them were born 75 years ago, some earlier, and many have passed away.
Second, it is advisable that the President issue a formal statement on behalf of the state saying that in the past, the government mistakenly sent more than 10,000 people to the Buru Island in Maluku to live in exile for 10 years (from 1969 until 1979) for their link to the communists. Without trial, they were forcibly sent to work at a concentration camp, not knowing when they would be released. It was the protests by international organizations that forced the government to end this crime against humanity.
Third, the President should apologize to the children of those who had fallen victim to any of the 1965 events. Under an instruction issued in 1981 by the then home minister, they were not allowed to apply for a position at any government organization or in the armed forces.
Whether or not their parents were guilty of involvement in the coup attempt, the government has absolutely no right to bar these individuals from applying for certain jobs because the 1945 Constitution guarantees everyone equal employment opportunities.
Fourth, the President will need to respond to the relief to a claim granted in 2011 by the Supreme Court.
Following inquiries and proceedings of a judicial review of Presidential Decree No. 28/1975, dated June 25, 1975, regarding the treatment of persons grouped under Class C involved in the Sept. 30, 1965 alleged PKI coup, the Supreme Court ruled in its verdict No. 3P/HUM/2011 that the reviewed presidential decree and all subordinate legal instruments run counter to higher legislation.
The Supreme Court therefore “orders the President of the Republic of Indonesia to revoke Presidential Decree No. 28/1975”.
The era of reform managed to give birth to Truth and Reconciliation (KKR) in 2004, but half-hearted then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono never approved the list of KKR member candidates submitted by the selection committee for further election by the House of Representatives. The Constitutional Court chaired by Jimly Asshiddiqie later cancelled the KKR Law. A replacement bill has never been delivered by the government to the House.
Along with an ad-hoc human rights court, the KKR plays a key role in comprehensively resolving cases of human rights violations committed in the past. A breakthrough is needed: establishing a truth and reconciliation commission through a presidential decree rather then a law to have it operational in a shorter time. The resulting body will take the form of a state commission set up by the President with a limited number of personnel serving for a short period of time, say two years.
Hopefully this article can help President Jokowi find a breakthrough to properly solve past human rights violations envisioned in his Nawacita agenda. With permanent and full resolutions, the people of this nation will be able to, after waiting almost 50 years, move on without a burden.
The writer is a visiting research scholar at CSEAS, Kyoto University, Japan.