Thu, 20 Nov 2003

Right abuses victims reject reconciliation draft law

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Victims of human rights abuses staged a peaceful rally on Wednesday at the House of Representatives in a show of rejection of the bill on a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The protesters, calling themselves Solidarity for Victims of Human Rights Abuses, said they wanted justice, which was the only thing that could prevent future rights abuses.

"Real justice will be obtained through a democratic human rights trial," said Mugiyanto, who led the protest.

Mugiyanto was the victim of an involuntary disappearance during the repressive New Order era.

During the demonstration, the protesters unfurled a banner which read: "Reject the bill because it does not benefit the victims."

They also displayed posters featuring photos of several police and military officers, including Dibyo Widodo (former National Police chief), Djaja Suparman (former Jakarta Military chief), Hamami Nata (former police chief), Nugroho Djajusman (former Jakarta Police chief), Wiranto (former military chief), Roesmanhadi (former police chief) and Hendardji (former military police chief).

Below the picture of the photos read: "They must be held accountable." This was in reference to alleged human rights violations that occurred under their watch.

The protesters said they represented victims of four rights abuse cases: The Tanjung Priok massacre in Jakarta in 1984, involuntary disappearances in 1997/1998, the May riots in 1998 and the Trisakti and Semanggi shootings in Jakarta in 1998.

They claimed the bill on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is currently being debated only regulated the technicalities of the establishment of the commission, not the substance of justice.

The protesters said the bill would benefit the perpetrators of human rights abuses, not the victims.

Article 42 of the bill stipulates that human rights abuses that have been settled by the commission cannot be brought to trial in a court of law.

The protesters said the commission and human rights trials must complement each other.

During a hearing with the House committee deliberating the bill on Wednesday, victims of the 1965 violence that followed a coup attempt said they hoped the committee would recommend that the President issue a decree to repair the good names of the survivors. The said they continued to be stigmatized because they were associated with the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) blamed for the coup attempt.

They said such a decree would help create a conducive situation for national reconciliation. Former president Abdurrahman Wahid has apologized to survivors of the 1965 violence on behalf of the organization he once chaired, Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest Muslim organization, whose members in 1965 joined in the slaughter of alleged PKI members and supporters.

Regarding the deliberation of the bill on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the group said the bill only defined the victims of human rights abuses, while a definition for the perpetrators still did not exist.

The group said they represented both sides of the 1965 violence: Founding president Sukarno who died in custody, military officers who died in the attempted coup, Sukarno's ministers and assistants, politicians who were murdered and detained without trial, and all those who for decades were stigmatized following the coup attempt.