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Indonesia urged to confront its demons

26 September, 2012

Indonesia’s failure to address the legacy of the1965-66 massacres against alleged Communists and their associates could continue to stir community divisions, fuel conflict and result in further atrocities, says a new report,’ Indonesia’s unresolved mass murders: undermining democracy’, by TAPOL, a UK-based organisation which promotes human rights, peace, and democracy in Indonesia.

Victims of the tragedy and their families are treated as second-class citizens and continue to suffer economic and social discrimination to this day.

“While the victims are demonised, 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.

The impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the massacres has facilitated human rights violations in East Timor, Aceh and Papua and threatens Indonesia’s progress as a democratic nation, warns the report. It follows the release of an investigation on the 1965-66 events by Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) on 23 July 2012, which found evidence of crimes against humanity committed during the anti-communist purges.

The report finds that a truth-seeking process, official historical clarification, and a genuine reconciliation process through judicial proceedings, reparations and rehabilitation for victims, are necessary if Indonesia is to maintain its progress towards sustainable democracy.

TAPOL urges the international community to support Indonesia in building justice and accountability mechanisms and calls upon President Yudhoyono to acknowledge the truth about the 1965-66 events. It calls for a comprehensive programme of rehabilitation for victims and their families and an end to discriminatory policies against them.

Carmel Budiardjo, founder of TAPOL and a victim of the tragedy herself, has campaigned for nearly 40 years for justice for the victims and their families. Imprisoned without trial for three years under the New Order regime of General Suharto, she said:

“The massacres committed under Suharto’s regime have been a dark stain on Indonesia’s history for nearly 50 years. The government must take concrete steps to end the suffering of the victims and restore their human dignity without delay.”

TAPOL’s report also calls for the Indonesian government to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances; an end to censorship about the 1965-66 events and New Order atrocities; and the revision of school textbooks.

It urges the Attorney General to follow-up Komnas HAM’s findings of crimes against humanity during the 1965-66 events and recommends that Komnas HAM and the National Commission on Violence Against Women should increase their reconciliation activities within communities to help people reassess their views of the past.


Contact: Paul Barber on +44 774 730 1739