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Next Indonesia president must uncover rights abuses, parties agree

Publication Date : 07-05-2014

 

Political parties in Indonesia have agreed that the country’s next president must uncover past human rights violations, with the first step being the establishment of a Commission on Truth and Reconciliation (KKR).

However, most of the parties have balked at the proposal to form an ad- hoc human rights court.

The limited support for the establishment of an ad-hoc court will, however, affect any efforts by the next president to bring cases of gross human rights violations to court.

Only the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and its coalition partner, the NasDem Party, have publicly declared — via PDI-P presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo — their commitment to employing legal mechanisms to solve gross human rights abuses from the past, such as by setting up the KKR and ratifying all the international human rights covenants.

“We previously passed a law on the KKR. Pak Jokowi is committed to kick-starting the process toward its establishment. His commitment will also include the ratification of international conventions on human rights because the issue of human rights is a trans-border issue. All countries around the world must work together to uphold them,” Andreas Parera of the PDI-P said.

Andreas said the PDI-P was such a strong advocate of human rights as the party’s own members had been subjected to human rights abuses in the past.

On July 27, 1997, soldiers wearing civilian clothes, at the behest of then-president Soeharto, stormed the PDI-P’s headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro, Central Jakarta, killing five people and injuring 149 others. The orders from Soeharto were to occupy the headquarters and oust Megawati Soekarnoputri as party leader.

“As a target of politically motivated rights violations, [we] as individuals as well as a party are specially concerned about human rights. Thus, we are committed to uphold human rights, especially civil and political rights, through our presidential candidate,” Andreas said.

Representing NasDem, Taufik Basari said that with the coalition with the PDI-P, his party had agreed to promote a joint agenda, which included human rights protection.

Taufik, a former lawyer and a recent legislative candidate, also urged voters to not support presidential candidates who had dubious human rights records.

“The time will come for all official presidential candidates to reveal their programs for leading the country, including their approaches toward human rights. For the time being, I want to call on all eligible voters to carefully examine the track records of those who compete in the upcoming election. Don’t vote for anyone who has been involved in human rights violations,” Taufik said.

Some political parties have voiced their apprehension about following Jokowi’s initiative.

Golkar Party research head Indra J. Piliang said the country only needed to set up a KKR to establish the facts about past human rights violations.

“Let the KKR do its work and let’s see what it finds. It could be that we don’t need a legal process,” Indra said.

Kivlan Zen, a former general who is now member of the United Development Party (PPP), said the country needed a KKR.

“I am sure that if I were the president, all outstanding issues could be solved within a KKR,” he said.

In the run-up to the July 9 presidential election, rights groups have renewed their calls for voters to closely examine the track records of all presidential candidates.

The groups have also called on voters not to vote for the Gerindra Party’s Prabowo Subianto, who is alleged to have been involved in the forced disappearances of pro-democracy activists in the late 1990s, during the final months of Soeharto’s New Order regime.

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