Kamisan (Thursday Happening), a weekly demonstration to remember victims of human rights violations in Indonesia. (Antara Photo/M. Agung Rajasa)

Victims' Families Heap Pressure on Komnas HAM to Solve Human Rights Cases


DECEMBER 11, 2019

Jakarta. Representatives of the victims of human rights violations in Indonesia have called on the National Human Rights Commission, or Komnas HAM, to continue its investigation into the cases and bring the perpetrators to justice. 

The representatives, which included families of the victims, Amnesty International and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), submitted three demands to Komnas HAM in Jakarta on Monday.

The first was to use the results of a recent survey by Komnas HAM to put pressure on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to find just resolutions for past cases of human rights abuses.

The survey, carried out in collaboration with Kompas' Research and Development Center,  had 62.1 percent of the respondents agreeing that severe cases of human rights violations must be brought to the national human rights court.

Meanwhile, 37.2 percent agreed the cases should be brought to the international human rights court.

Among the cases included in the survey were the 1965-1966 mass killings, when hundreds of thousands of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members were slaughtered across the country on the pretext that the party had attempted a coup.  

There were also the spate of mysterious shootings in 1982-1985, known as "Petrus" ("Penembak Misterius," or Mysterious Shooters), which activists suspected were members of the armed forces executing alleged criminals on the streets without trials. 

The Talangsari incident in 1989 involved a clash between the army and an Islamist group in Lampung. A Komnas HAM report in 2008 put the death toll at 130 civilians. 

Other unresolved cases were a series of student shootings during the Reformasi protest movement, known as the 1998 Trisakti incident, 1998 Semanggi I incident and 1999 Semanggi II incident.

The May 1998 tragedy saw mobs storming Chinese enclaves in cities across Indonesia. Thousands of Chinese-Indonesian women were raped and murdered during two weeks of rioting.

The survey also mentioned the kidnappings of student and political activists in 1997-1998 that implicated current defense minister Prabowo Subianto, and human rights violations in Papua.

The victims' representatives also demanded that Komnas HAM use its authority, granted by the 1999 Law on Human Rights and the 2000 Law on Human Rights Court, to resolve these cases and find justice for the victims. 

They argued that if the cases were thrown out by the Attorney General's Office, Komnas HAM has the right to request assistance from the national human rights court to summon the alleged perpetrators by force, as regulated in article 95 of the 1999 Law on Human Rights.

Their last demand was for the Komnas HAM to put pressure on the government to resolve these cases and put a stop to criminal impunity. 

No Political Will From Government

Komnas HAM commissioner Choirul Anam said the commission remains committed to solve past human rights cases. But the effort has become a race against time since some of the perpetrators and the victims had already passed away.

"We will never stop investigating these cases. We continue to hear statements and confessions from the people involved. There is still a chance that we can uncover these cases. I can't see any reason why the government should shelve them," Choirul said.

However, Choirul said the government does not seem to be showing any political will to do so and that Komnas HAM's authority is severely limited. 

"Technically, we need an investigation order, so give us one. For example, to exhume corpses or seize documents. But we've received none so far. The government just hasn't shown any political will [to find justice for the victims]," Choirul said.