The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 07/21/2010
The provision of justice for many victims of the gross human rights violations strewn throughout Indonesia’s rumble-tumble history remains unfulfilled with weak sanctions for individual perpetrators, a human rights group says.
The failure to sentence even one person for gross human rights violations exposed through investigations sent the wrong message that such acts were permissible, Indonesian Association of Missing Persons chairman Mugiyanto said.
For me, that is the most important purpose of the court process,” he said during a recent discussion held by the KBR 68H radio station.
Indonesia’s list of unsettled human rights violations include the Trisakti tragedy, the Semanggi I shootings in 1998, the Semanggi II shootings in 1999, the bloody incidents surroundings the referendum vote in East Timor in 1999 and the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib in 2004.
The fact that only a few, if any, individuals have been prosecuted for these crimes shows how the culture of impunity prevails in the country, Mugiyanto said.
He highlighted the formation of the Commission of Truth and Friendship’s (KKP), which produced report regarding the gross human rights violation in Timor Leste two years ago. Though several Indonesian army officials implicated in the violence faced the Indonesian ad hoc human rights high court, none were imprisoned.
Mugiyanto said that the formation of the commission was based more on appeasing mounting pressure from the international community to bring the case forward into the international forum.
This would cause shame to the Indonesian government who prided themselves for democracy and human rights, he said.
The needs of the victims were not addressed,” he said. “There’s was no sense of justice.”
The rights violations took place around the time of a referendum on the political status of East Timor, now Timor Leste, then still part of Indonesia.
The rights violations peaked during the announcement of the vote for independence in September 1999.
Indonesia’s armed forces and police supported pro-Indonesian militia in attacking pro-independence Timorese, the commission’s had report concluded.
In August 2005, the Indonesian and Timor Leste governments formed the KKP to find conclusive truth regarding the 1999 incidents. The commission finished its report in 2008.
A report commissioned by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated that up to 1,500 civilians died because of ill-treatment, torture, rape, and murder.
However, the KKP report has limited power. Former KKP commissioner Agus Widjojo said the commission’s mandate ended in writing recommendations to the government.
The recommendations were handed to the government and the application of those recommendations have entered the domain of the government’s responsibility,” he told The Jakarta Post.
However former Indonesian foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda said the aim was to enact a non-judicial approach to reconciliation between Indonesia and Timor Leste.
We uncovered the truth but it would not be followed up by appropriate legal processes,” Wirajuda said, adding that the approach taken was the best option for building a stronger friendship between the two countries.
Wirajuda also said this approach would have been less costly and less time consuming than prosecuting the individual guilty parties.
Just look at what happened with Cambodia in the case of Pol Pot. It became very expensive and wearisome,” he said.
Sanctions between the two nations were unnecessary because both countries had expressed sincere commitments to not repeating similar incidents. “It’s a question of process, which is not necessarily black and white.” (gzl)Families of victims still seeking justice