The message shown when trying to access in Jakarta on Thursday. (JG screen grab)

'1965' People's Tribunal Website Inaccessible in Indonesia


NOVEMBER 12, 2015

Jakarta. The website of the International People's Tribunal 1965, held in The Hague until Friday, could not be accessed in Indonesia on Thursday, sparking speculation that it was being blocked.

Senior government officials have made it clear in recent days that they don't take kindly to the proceedings involving senior Indonesian activists and lawyers, but the Communications and Information Technology Ministry was quoted as saying by BBC Indonesia that it was not blocking access to the site.

The website, which could be accessed without any problems on Wednesday, suddenly showed an "Error 403 -- Forbidden" message on Thursday.

Besides providing information on the cases discussed, the site was livestreaming proceedings at the tribunal.

The tribunal is being held from Wednesday till Friday in a former church in The Hague. No state has recognized the tribunal and its findings cannot be enforced anywhere, but Indonesian officials have expressed their displeasure regardless.

The proceedings do follow those of a formal court -- with prosecutors and judges -- but it is a civil society initiative that, according to the IPT 1965's website, "operates outside the mechanisms of government and formal institutions like the United Nations."

The prominent Indonesia lawyer and activist Todung Mulya Lubis acts as the chief prosecutor at the tribunal. Other Indonesian activists and lawyers involved in the prosecution are Agustinus Agung Wijaya, Sri Suparyati, Antarini Arna, Uli Parulian Sihombing and Bahrain Makmun.

The state of Indonesia stands accused of murder, torture and enslavement, among other charges, over the bloody crackdown on communists and their suspected sympathizers after a failed coup attempt pinned on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965.

Indonesia, which according to organizers was invited, is not represented at the tribunal.

Until today, it remains difficult to discuss the events of 1965-66 in Indonesia from the perspective of the victims and their relatives, or to question the official version of what happened.

At least 500,000, but possibly more than a million people were killed, and many others were tortured, raped or sent to prison camps.

The purges have always been presented as necessary to prevent a communist takeover. They also marked the beginning of the iron-fisted rule of pro-Western strongman Suharto, who only gave up power in 1998.

Several witnesses have provided harrowing accounts of what they experienced at the tribunal.

Indonesian authorities recently threatened to close down a writers' festival in Bali if the organizers allowed discussions on 1965 and its aftermath.