Human rights watchdog urges RI to confront its 'demons'

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1 Oct 2012
The Jakarta Post
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TAPOL, a UK-based human rights watchdog, has urged Indonesia to address the 1965 Communist purge, as failure to do so would result in continued community divisions, fuel conflict and lead to further atrocities in the country.

The organization recently released a report titled “Indonesia’s unresolved mass murders: undermining democracy” prior to the 47th commemoration of the September 30 movement that set off a chain of violent reactions, including a massacre of suspected communists reportedly led by the Army.

The report said that victims of the tragedy and their families continued to be treated as second-class citizens and experience economic and social discrimination.

“While the victims are demonized, the perpetrators are treated as heroes and allowed total impunity for some of the last century’s worst atrocities,” says Paul Barber, coordinator of TAPOL in a press release received by The Jakarta Post on Monday.

The impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the massacres had facilitated human rights violations in East Timor, Aceh and Papua and threatened Indonesia’s progress as a democratic nation, the report warned.

In order to maintain its progress toward sustainable democracy, Indonesia needs to conduct a truth-seeking process, official historical clarification and a genuine reconciliation process through judicial proceedings, reparations and rehabilitation for victims, the report says.

The report followed an investigation on the massacre by Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) released on July 23, which found evidence of crimes against humanity committed during the Communist purge.

The commission ultimately declared the systematic prosecution of alleged members of the PKI after the failed 1965 coup as a gross human rights violation.

Komnas HAM, however, said that the biggest obstacle for the institution to finalize its findings was the absence of concrete evidence, such as weapons and bullets used to execute the victims. The commission can do little and has called on the Attorney General’s Office to follow through with its findings.

TAPOL also urged the attorney general to act upon Komnas HAM’s report and recommended that the commission increase its reconciliation activities within communities to help people reassess their perceptions of the past.

TAPOL’s report also called on the Indonesian government to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, an end to the censorship of information on the massacre and New Order atrocities and the revision of school textbooks. (han/iwa)