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Minister denies Indonesia's 1965 rights abuses happened

Publication Date : 02-10-2012

 

The Indonesian government has rejected the findings of its independent state body National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) declaring the 1965 communist purge a gross human rights violation and has refused to apologise for the victims of the atrocity.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto rejected the Komnas HAM conclusion and insisted that the mass killings, which were state-sponsored according to the rights body, were justified to save the country from communists.

"Define gross human rights violation! Against whom? What if it had happened the other way around?" Suyanto said on the sidelines of a meeting with the House of Representatives' budget committee yesterday.

Suyanto indicated that the mass killings during the communist purge were justified as they were aimed at protecting the country.

"This country would not be what it is today if it didn't happen. Of course there were victims [during the purge], and we are investigating them," Suyanto added.

After a thorough investigation lasting nearly four years, Komnas HAM finally declared the killings in the 1965 purge a state-sponsored gross human rights violation.

The investigation found that widespread mass killings had occurred during the period and featured similar patterns, starting with victims being arrested and detained in military camps, where they were interrogated, tortured, raped or murdered.

Following its investigation, Komnas HAM recommended the government set up a reconciliation and truth committee, and that a presidential apology be made to the families of victims as well as to survivors.

However, according to Suyanto, such a recommendation was unreasonable due to the lack a legal basis.

"We can't do that because the Constitutional Court has repealed the law on truth and reconciliation," he said.

Suyanto said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should not make an official apology for the atrocity, arguing that the killings should be seen in an historical context.

"We must look at what happened comprehensively. Mutiny against the state was planned by the communists. Immediate action was needed to protect the country against such a threat. Don't force the government to apologise," Suyanto said.

Separately, Indonesian Military Comr. Adm. Agus Suhartono shared Suyanto's conviction, saying that the military would not deliver an apology.

"We will, of course, punish any members proven to have played roles in the incident. But, why bother doling out punishment when the Attorney General's Office would certainly say that the soldiers were not guilty," Suhartono said on the sidelines of an annual function to commemorate the 1965 failed coup at the Lubang Buaya Museum in East Jakarta, a monument built to strengthen the New Order's version of the failed Sept. 30 coup, which was blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party, or PKI.

The sombre mood of the annual function was broken when organisers of the event played Yudhoyono-penned song "Ku Yakin Sampai Di Sana" (I Know I Will Get There) as the opening song for the ceremony.

Yudhoyono served as a leader at the function, which was held to honour military officers who perished in the bloody 1965 incident.

 

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