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SBY to Apologize for Rights Abuses  Tapol
 Apr 26, 2012 04:51 PDT 

From Joyo

[After all this time!!! Let us wait and see what he says. And what about
the issue of impunity, the officers who caused such massive loss of life
in East Timor during the more than 25 years of occupation, the killings
in West Papua and until recently in Aceh. Yet instead of being punished,
they went on receiving promotions and ended their military careers with
honour and no blemish on their official reputations. TAPOL]

The Jakarta Post
Thursday, April 26, 2012

SBY to Apologize for Rights Abuses

Rabby Pramudatama, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) is expected to make an
apology to families and victims of past human rights abuses, including
those who perished in the purge of members of the now-defunct
Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965.

A member of the Presidential Advisory Council on legal issues, Albert
Hasibuan, confirmed on Wednesday that Yudhoyono intended to deliver an
apology, adding that the council was preparing a draft speech for him
to approve.

“It all started with the President's willingness [to make an apology]
that could serve as a starting point to resolve the country's past
human rights violations,” Albert said after a meeting with the
National Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence
(Kontras) on Wednesday.

Albert said that with the apology, the country could look to the
future without being burdened by the past.

Albert later told The Jakarta Post that the Presidential Advisory
Council, besides preparing the draft of the speech, was also devising
a mechanism to compensate victims.

“It would include a mechanism by which the government would fulfil the
victims’ rights, which includes access to compensation and
retribution,” he said.

Albert said that the idea to apologize for past rights abuses first
occurred to Yudhoyono in January.

“We should applaud his decision and follow through with the
President’s intention because no president in the past ever made the
gesture,” he said.

Albert said that Yudhoyono would deliver the apology to families and
victims of those who perished in the purge of PKI members in 1965, the
Tanjung Priok massacre in 1984 as well as the May 1998 riots.

He also said that Yudhoyono would make the apology before his term
ended in 2014 because he wanted the gesture to be his legacy.

Throughout modern history, Indonesia has seen numerous cases of gross
violations of human rights, the most grim being the prosecution
without trial of thousands of alleged members of the now-defunct PKI,
which happened soon after an aborted coup blamed on the Communist

Yudhoyono's father in-law, Sarwo Edhi Wibowo, was one of former
president Soeharto's field commanders when thousands of suspected PKI
members were massacred in Java.

Human rights activists and families of victims have been relentlessly
struggling for justice in many ways, including by gathering in front
of the Presidential Palace each Thursday afternoon from 2007 up until

The activists have renewed their calls to the government not to make
them victims of political amnesia.

Contacted separately, National Commission on Human Rights chairman
Ifdhal Kasim said that the apology could be the most practical way to
settle past human rights abuses.

He said that settling past human rights violations through
conventional legal means would drag on with only a slight hope of

“So we need an alternative way to tackle the problem, and in this case
the President should come forward on behalf of the state to apologize
to the victims and make a policy on compensating victims,” he said.

Ifdhal said that by apologizing for past rights abuses, Yudhoyono
would address grievances among victims and that could serve as a first
concrete step toward rehabilitation and reconciliation.

He said that Yudhoyono could issue either a presidential decree or a
presidential instruction as a legal basis to initiate the
rehabilitation and reconciliation efforts.

“It is more practical instead of the President proposing a law to the
House of Representatives, which would take a very long time,” he said.

Ifdhal said Yudhoyono should make the apology sooner rather than
later. “We should prevent the issue of past human rights violations
from being used as a political commodity to attack political rivals or
raise their popularity,” he said.

Kontras executive coordinator Haris Azhar applauded the plan but said
it would not mean much. “There has to be disclosure to the public
about what really happened in the past.” (fzm)

Human rights abuses

Mass killings in 1965-1970
Victims: 1.5 million
Description: Victims mostly Indonesian Communist Party members.
Settlement: No solution.

Aceh in Military Operation Zone (DOM) in 1976-1989
Description: Aceh was declared a Military Operation Zone with a high
level of violence with many victims.
Settlement: A peace settlement in 2005.

Tanjung Priok in 1984
Victims: 74 people
Description: Military opened fire on demonstrators.
Settlement: An ad hoc Human Rights Court passes light sentences.
Inadequate reparation for victims.

Papua in 1966-until now
Victims: Thousands
Description: Intensive military operations carried out by the military
to deal with the Free Papua Organization (OPM).
Settlement: No solution.

PDI office raid, July 27, 1996
Victims: 1,317 people affected
Description: State stormed the
Indonesian Democratic Party office.
Settlement: Civilians sentenced by court. No military officials
punished. No reparations for victims.

Talangsari Lampung in 1989
Victims: 803 people
Description: The repression of Muslim communities in Central Lampung
accused of being extreme rightists.

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