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Lawmakers pour scorn on revisiting past rights abuses in Indonesia

Publication Date : 31-07-2012

 

Responding to the damning reports from the Indonesian Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) stating that the 1965 anti-communist purge and the early 1980s killings are gross violations of human rights, lawmakers have suggested that the public should just forgive and forget the atrocities.

A member of House of Representatives' Commission III overseeing legal affairs, Nudirman Munir said that the best solution to solving past rights abuses was burying them.

"If we keep opening up old wounds we will not be able to move on and look to the future," Munir said in a discussion yesterday.

Munir said that revisiting past rights abuses was akin to opening a Pandora's Box.

"Better let bygones be bygones," Munir of the Golkar party said.

Munir said that rather than dwelling on the past, Komnas HAM should just focus on current rights abuses like the killings in Mesuji in Lampung and random shootings in Papua.

In its reports released last week, Komnas HAM deemed the 1965 anti-communist purge and the 1981-1984 shootings gross violations of human rights.

Komnas HAM then issued a recommendation that the government form a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation.

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) should be instructed to launch an investigation of the cases and rehabilitate the victims' rights, especially members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) whose rights as citizens have been violated for years.

Deputy House speaker Priyo Budi Santoso recently said that digging up the past would only cause negative reactions.

"Revealing the historical facts will not solve the problem.

"If we keep on trying to unearth them, we will end up attempting to solve the massacre in the era of Ken Arok [a Javanese king in the 13th century]," Santoso said.

Survivors of the 1965 anti-communist purge have filed a complaint against Santoso to the House ethics council.

House Speaker Marzuki Alie said that he had very little knowledge of the anti-communist purge.

"I have never studied either the case or the legal aspects of it," he said.

Alie shared the opinion of his fellow lawmakers that reopening the case would be counterproductive.

"It's almost half a century ago. Do we really needed to look that far back?" he said.

Alie also said that the government need to decide first the nature of the subject.

"The 1965 communist coup was considered a mutiny and the government at that time needed to crush it. We have to be clear if it was truly a human rights violation," he said.

Separately, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) deputy chairman, Lukman Hakim said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should immediately set up a task force to study the Komnas HAM reports.

"The task force will decide which cases should go to court," he said. Hakim added that the government could authorise the establishment of an ad-hoc tribunal if there was enough evidence.

Indonesian Institute of Sciences historian Asvi Warman Adam said the country still had a long way to go before reaching a closure on past rights abuse cases, in spite of the Komnas HAM findings.

"The discussion about establishing a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation has been going on since 1999 but it took five years for the House to produce the law," he said.

 

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