Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Indonesia’s Collective Amnesia
Indonesia Faces Up to 1965
Attorney General Office: No Prosecutions On 1965 Violations
Amnesty International: Past rights abuse may hinder RI’s global role
Memories of ‘Petrus’ resurface after three decades
Amnesty International condemns police brutality
Is this the beginning of the end for our civil liberties?

Indonesia’s Collective Amnesia
Endy Bayuni, Jakarta | Opinion | Wed, August 01 2012,
Last week, the National Commission on Human Rights, an independent state body, released its findings from a four-year investigation into the 1965 purge of suspected communists.
The commission concludes that the Army-led campaign amounted to a gross violation of human rights. It urged the government to prosecute the perpetrators and compensate victims and survivors. It also called upon President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to issue a public apology.

But the report failed to generate much public interest, if the reaction of the country’s major newspapers is any indication. They either ignored the story or buried it in the inside pages — which made for a jarring contrast to the hysterical headlines devoted to shooting in faraway Denver recently. But then the mainstream media have always been complicit in the conspiracy of silence over the killings, whether knowingly or out of ignorance.

The killing campaign in 1965 and 1966 was unleashed after an abortive coup against president Sukarno in October 1965 that the Army blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Although the massacre happened on Sukarno’s watch, he had by then become a lame-duck president.
The report instead put the blame squarely on the Command for the Restoration of Security and Order led by Gen. Soeharto, who went on to become president in 1967. The commission’s recommendation only says that those most responsible should be prosecuted, though it gives no specific names.

In spite of its massive scale, the killing campaign has been shrouded in mystery. No one — the Human Rights Commission included — has ever been able to put a figure on how many were killed. Estimates range from a conservative 200,000 to as many as 3 million, a figure once boastingly cited by Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, who headed the military campaign at the time as chief of the Army’s Special Forces.

The Soeharto regime banned any discussion of the entire episode, including the massacre and the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power. For more than three decades, only the military’s version of history was allowed to circulate. The veil of silence was lifted only some years after Soeharto stepped down in 1998.

Official history books today still treat the episode as an attempt by the PKI, then the world’s largest communist party in a non-communist state, to grab power. They make no mention of the ensuing massacre of party members, their sympathizers and relatives, and even many innocent bystanders, or the harsh treatments meted out to the survivors in the aftermath of the killings.

The report, the most detailed study ever carried out on the massacre, lists the types of crimes committed, including murder, slavery, forced disappearances, limits to physical freedom, torture, rape, persecution and forced prostitution. It also says the killing was widespread across most major islands in the archipelago, and not confined to Java, Sumatra and Bali, as had been widely believed. The study also identified at least 17 mass graves where the victims were buried.

Although Indonesians who went through the period are aware of the killings, most have turned a blind eye, and many have even managed to erase them from memory. They accepted the official version that the military had saved Indonesia from communism, and, by logical conclusion, that Soeharto and his military cohorts were the heroes of the day.

Time will tell how far the report will go to break these long years of the conspiracy of silence about the killings, and whether it will succeed in jolting the nation out of its collective amnesia. The report also calls for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to look into the tragedy.

Scholars attempting to study the killings say that many of the perpetrators and the surviving victims have refused to be interviewed for events that they said were too traumatic to recount. A few, however, have been brave enough to break their silence, as captured in the film documentary 40 Years of Silence — An Indonesian Tragedy.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, for whom the report was prepared, responded positively by ordering the office of the attorney general to look into the recommendations, including considering the prosecution of those most responsible for the killings. His office has also said that the President is considering an official apology on behalf of the state for all the human rights violations committed against its own citizens.

All the key players in the killing campaign, however, are dead: Soeharto died in 2008, his deputy Adm. Sudomo this past April, and Sarwo Edhie, in 1989. It will be interesting to see how far the Indonesian Military, or Yudhoyono for that matter, are prepared to see their seniors tried in absentia or be dragged through the dirt in the event that the truth and reconciliation commission is formed. Yudhoyono, a military general himself, is the son-in-law of Sarwo Edhie.

Many human rights activists have their doubts. They note that a report by the same commission about the mass rape of Chinese-Indonesians during rioting in 1998 never received any follow-up from the office of the attorney general.
The release of the report was hailed as a milestone by a handful of victims and survivors who had been seeking justice all these years. For most Indonesians, it was a non-event.

In one of the rare public reactions to the report, Priyo Budi Santoso, a senior politician from the Golkar Party, said that wallowing in the past was unproductive for the nation.
“It is better if we move forward,” said Priyo, whose party provided the political machine that sustained Soeharto in power for more than three decades.

Tragically, he probably spoke for most of the people in this country.
Anyone wondering why the systemic culture of impunity, and with it the culture of violence, are so notoriously strong in Indonesia, may have found the answer this week. They are deeply embedded, along with the nation’s collective amnesia.
The writer is senior editor of The Jakarta Post. This article first appeared in the Transitions section of Foreign Policy magazine’s website
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Indonesia Faces Up to 1965
By A. Lin Neumann ,Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Now it can be discussed
An official commission finally looks at the massacres that ushered Suharto into power

We hear a lot about the greatness that is just around the corner for Indonesia, and much of it rings true. There is a palpable sense of becoming in the air, as if the country has woken up from a long slumber and is finally finding its way. “There is just a bit more swagger in our step,” one wealthy young businessman told me recently. Much of this, of course, is down to a huge domestic market with sufficient buying power to insulate the country somewhat from the shocks that are battering Europe, the US and parts of Asia.

But there is more to greatness than rising GDP and tall buildings. Part of any nation’s greatness is surely the ability to come to grips with its own history. By this measure, Indonesia’s official blindness over the events of 1965 has fallen far short.

That may be changing. Last week, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) declared after a four-year investigation that the persecution and murders of alleged communists after a botched 1965 coup was a gross human rights violation. The body noted incidents of murder, slavery, forced eviction, torture, rape and other abuses committed by the military in the name of fighting communism.

The commission shied away from naming names but it did say that military officers from the time should stand trial, if any of them are still alive. The agency at the center of the killings, the commission concluded, was the shadowy Operational Command for the Restoration of Security and Order (Kopkamtib), which then-Gen. Suharto himself commanded from 1965 to 1967 and used as a vehicle for his rise to power.
For some perplexing reason, most Western news agencies based in Jakarta ignored the report when it was released last week. They reasoned it was old news, one editor said. In the words of one prematurely cynical young foreign correspondent with little experience in Asia, “Nothing will happen anyway.”

In my view, the report is a major step forward for Indonesia, marking the first time the country has come close to opening an official dialogue of any kind on a bloodbath that set villager against villager in an orgy of violence that reshaped the country’s politics for more than a generation. It may not result in court trials but it should at least remove the cloak of silence from a national tragedy.

One of the report’s authors, Nur Kholis, the vice chairperson of Komnas Ham, described for me last week a painstaking process over four years of going from village to village in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Bali, Java and elsewhere to meet with survivors and victims. The commission not only found evidence of mass murder but also documented cases of accused leftists who were rounded up and kept in conditions of slavery for nearly a decade at numerous prison camps. Indeed, it was not until this century that those who were imprisoned at the time had their full citizenship rights restored.

It was all done, Nur Kholis recounted, with the cold precision of a military operation. There were lists of supposed communists in the hands of soldiers who would enter villages and oversee the killing. Often neighbors would point out neighbors who would subsequently be hauled away or simply executed. “We owe it to the victims,” he said quietly. “They deserve some justice.”

Nur Kholis and others hope that the report and its aftermath will begin a process of healing that the country has so far avoided. Coming as it did during the Cold War, with the escalation of US involvement beginning in Vietnam, the interest shown by the CIA and other Western powers in the events of 1965 has been well documented. With Indonesia now a rising power, perhaps the nation can finally come to terms with its dark history.

The details of the supposed communist “coup” attempt that led to the violence that killed hundreds of thousands of people – estimates vary from 300,000 to 3 million   have been obscured and covered up for decades, despite the horrors of the brutality. Officially, the coup attempt, which claimed the lives of six top generals in the early morning hours of Oct. 1, 1965, was blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party, which was close to Sukarno at the time. The subsequent massacres of alleged leftists – many of them no more than illiterate villagers   has never been officially explained. Suharto took full control of the country from Sukarno in 1967 – after the massacres were largely completed.
In a 1978 article in the New York Review of Books regarding 1965, Cornell University scholars Benedict Anderson and Ruth McVey cite an internal report made by the CIA on the events that swept over Indonesia that year.

In terms of the numbers killed, the anti-PKI [Indonesian Communist Party] massacres in Indonesia rank as one of the worst mass murders of the twentieth century, along with the Soviet purges of the 1930s, the Nazi mass murders during the Second World War, and the Maoist bloodbath of the early 1950s,” the CIA report concluded. “In this regard, the Indonesian coup is certainly one of the most significant events of the twentieth century, far more significant than many other events that have received much more publicity.”
Despite the fact, about all that most people here seem to have been told is that Sukarno was followed by Gen. Suharto and the New Order regime and the whole thing was kind of messy. The events of 1965, beyond the deaths of the six generals, are not taught in schools here. The dead generals are treated as national heroes.

In ordering the Attorney General’s Office to follow up on the commission’s conclusions, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose own father-in-law served as a general in the armed forces during the time of the purges, set the legal process in motion and made good on his frequent talk of national reconciliation. In citing the need for a “just, factual, smart and constructive settlement,” Yudhoyono noted the experiences of South Africa, Cambodia and other countries that have had to contend with a dark and violent legacy.

Indonesia is no longer the perilous place it was for the first five decades after independence. Government power now changes hands peacefully and democratically, which allows the economy and the people to prosper. The many problems the country faces are discussed openly in the media.
Coming to grips with history can be unsettling. But the Komnas HAM report could spur the kind of national introspection that will deepen Indonesia’s understanding of itself. And out of that process, a measure of greatness might emerge.

(A. Lin Neumann is a co-founder of Asia Sentinel and is the host of Insight Indonesia, a talk show on BeritaSatu TV in Jakarta. A version of this article appeared in the Jakarta Globe.)

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Attorney General Office: No Prosecutions On 1965 Violations
The Jakarta Post | National | Wed, August 01 2012,
Despite a recommendation from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to follow up on the 1965 rights violations, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) says it is unlikely any cases will be brought to court.
Deputy Attorney General Darmono said the 1965 human rights violations cases would instead be settled through reconciliation or out-of-court settlements.
“Reconciliation is the preferred option as long as there is hard evidence,” Darmono said late on Monday as quoted by Antara news agency.

Concluding its four-year inquiry into the 1965 purge following the alleged abortive coup by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), Komnas HAM declared that gross human rights violations did take place.
Komnas HAM demanded that the AGO begin an official investigation as a follow-up to the commission’s inquiry. Darmono argued that the 1965 rights violations could not be settled in an ad hoc human rights court as stipulated in Law No. 26/2000 on human rights courts.
“The [human rights] cases from Timor Leste and Tanjung Priok are exceptions,” he added.
“The 1965 rights violations are beyond [the scope of] the existing law,” he said.

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Amnesty International:
Past rights abuse may hinder RI’s global role
Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Fri, May 13 2011,
Indonesia is risking its potential international role should the government fail to resolve past human rights cases and end all manner of torture, ill-treatment and discrimination, UK-based human rights organization Amnesty International says.
It will be much more difficult for Indonesia to play a leading role, particularly on human rights issues, if it does not get its own house in order,” Josef Roy Benedict, Amnesty’s campaigner for Indonesia, said during an interview with The Jakarta Post on Friday.
If the Indonesian government wants to be taken seriously by other nations, it will have to take immediate steps to deal with a range of human rights issues in the country,” he added.
Indonesia is currently seeking a chance to obtain a seat at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, boosted by its present chairmanship of ASEAN. It chaired the council in 2006 and became a member between 2007 and 2010.Josef said Amnesty would continue documenting and reporting any human rights abuse should Indonesia be elected a member of the council.
The Indonesian government has the duty to resolve past human rights issues, such as the killing of human rights defender Munir and bringing the perpetrators to court. We will keep reminding [them of their duty],” he said.
In its annual global report, released on Friday, Amnesty says there remained a considerable number of human rights violations in Indonesia in 2010, including the “excessive use of force” by authorities, torture and other ill-treatment, discrimination against minorities, the lack of protection for domestic workers and suppression of freedom of expression.”
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Memories of ‘Petrus’ resurface after three decades
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Thu, July 26 2012,
Sumardi, 44, a Karawang resident says the days when Karawang villagers repeatedly found bodies from the penembakan misterius (mysterious shootings), or Petrus, in the area of Citarum River, Karawang, West Java, remain fresh in his memory.

“I remember it was 1984, and I was 16. We found bodies floating in Citarum River maybe once every two days, some of them had tattoos, some had no tattoos at all,” he said.
“Some of the bodies got stuck at the edge of the river, while some were carried away by the current, but we just let them go, hoping the river would take them to the sea,” he added.
Sumardi said that the villagers simply didn’t want to get involved.
He said that it was a terrifying time, but he and his family didn’t feel threatened because they knew the killings only targeted specific people.

“We didn’t feel threatened because we knew they only went after people with tattoos and criminal records,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
One of his neighbors was one of the operation’s targets, he said. The man, a much-feared gang member in the neighborhood, was abducted by a group of people who looked like military officers in 1984, Sumardi explained.

“This neighbor of mine was suddenly abducted from a wedding party by a number people who carried weapons. I saw them push him into a hardtop jeep. Witnesses said that later that night they saw him being dragged like an animal and tied up behind the jeep. Since then, we have never seen him again,” he said.
Sumardi is not the only one who still remembers the era of the Petrus killings as a frightening time.

Yosep Adi Prasetyo, the deputy chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) remembered that time as a terrorizing period for his generation. “The Petrus killings have left behind a generation with scars from tattoo removal. It left a very big hole in our hearts,” Yosep said.
According to the result of a Komnas HAM investigation announced on Tuesday, as many as 2,000 bodies of Petrus victims were found in cities throughout Central and East Java, Bogor in West Java, Jakarta, Palembang in South Sumatra and Medan in North Sumatra.
Yosep said that according to the Komnas HAM investigation, some of the victims had been murdered in unusual ways.

“We interviewed doctors, forensics experts, and nurses who had contact with the victims’ bodies, and according to their information, some victims were killed with gold bullets,” Yosep said, in reference to the belief that people could use black magic to make themselves impervious to all but gold bullets.
“Some victims had their chests split open with axes when the perpetrators noticed they were still breathing after being shot,” he added.

Asvi Warman Adam, a historian at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and a former member of
the 1965 purge investigation team, said that Komnas HAM had found indications of gross violations of human rights in the Petrus killings as early as 2003.
“Komnas HAM faced a lot of obstacles in completing this investigation, that’s why the progress was very slow and that is also why I’m not letting my hopes get too high that the Attorney General’s Office [AGO] will follow up on this case or even take it to the ad hoc human rights court,” he told the Post.

Asvi added that a major hindrance to further investigation by the AGO was a required recommendation to proceed from the House of Representatives.
“The further investigation is not only up to the AGO but also the House of Representatives, which makes it a lot harder to finish. As we know a Golkar politician recently rejected any further investigation of human-rights violations occurring before 1998. I don’t know whether the government will take serious action to close this case or not,” he said.

“I am happy enough knowing that the Komnas HAM finished their investigation and declared this case as a gross violation of human rights, because this means they have made it a matter of official record,” he added.
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Amnesty International condemns police brutality
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Thu, April 26 2012,
London-based human rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI), called on Indonesian police officers to stop using excessive force when dealing with peaceful demonstrations in the country.
In a statement released on Tuesday, AI charged Indonesia’s police with beating, shooting and even killing people with no fear of prosecution, leaving their victims with little hope of receiving justice.

AI’s Indonesia Campaign Coordinator, Josef Roy Benedict, said an independent body should be set up to properly investigate all allegations of human rights violations but with a mandate to enable it to submit its findings for prosecution.
“So far, most police personnel who are accused of misconduct are only subjected to internal proceedings,” Josef said.

He added that despite over a decade of reform, police officers continue to be implicated in cases of shooting and beating individuals taking part in peaceful protests and land disputes, as well as heavy-handed treatment of suspects during regular arrests.
Josef said Indonesia had no independent national body to effectively deal with public complaints about alleged human rights violations by police.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Police Commission can accept complaints by the public about police misconduct, but they have no authority to refer the cases to prosecutors.
AI reported that in December 2011, three people were killed and dozens injured when 100 people peacefully blocked a road in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara, in a protest over a mining exploration permit.
Around 600 police personnel, including members of the police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob), were dispatched to disperse them. According to the group, the Bima Police chief ordered officers to use force to quell the protest.
In the subsequent internal disciplinary proceedings, five police officers were reportedly punished with three days detention for beating and kicking protesters who put up no resistance.

In North Sumatra, in a land dispute in June 2011 Brimob officers, who were attempting to forcibly evict a community in Langkat district, reportedly fired tear gas as well as live and rubber bullets at villagers defending their homes, injuring at least nine people.
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Is this the beginning of the end for our civil liberties?
Endy Bayuni, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Commentary | Wed, May 30 2012,
Lady Gaga has canceled her sold-out show in Indonesia over security concerns after Muslim hard-liners threatened violence if the pop diva went ahead with her "Born This Way Ball," promoters said Sunday. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File)Indonesia may have lost a lot more than the opportunity to see Lady Gaga when she canceled her June 3 concert in Jakarta last weekend. The episode could mark the beginning of the end for Indonesia’s civil liberties as radical groups continue unabated in their assault on the nation’s freedoms.

Those who care about their freedom should speak up and fight to defend it rather than busily trying to distance themselves from Lady Gaga and whatever it is they believe she represents through her songs and stage appearances.

The news that the American pop diva had canceled her Indonesian gig must have come as a huge relief to many people, most particularly the police. The prospect of a violent disruption by the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) as 52,000
fans watched Lady Gaga at Bung Karno Stadium has now been averted.

Thanks to her, police do not even have to deal with the dilemma of whether or not to issue a permit. They would be very unpopular with the conservative Muslims if they decided one way, or earn the wrath of her young fans if they went the other way.
Lady Gaga has settled the dilemma for the police. She has rightly refused to comply with the strict requirements regarding her stage appearance in order to gain a permit, such as submitting in writing the songs she would sing and the costumes she would wear. And she must have had her fans as well herself in mind when she spiked her Jakarta date after police clearly stated that they could not guarantee her or her fans’ safety in view of the protests against her concert.

The real losers in this episode, however, are not Lady Gaga and the 52,000 fans who had bought tickets (many of them will be heading to Singapore where she has apparently added another date to perform, free from FPI harassment). It is actually the nation that has been made so much poorer in terms of its freedoms.

Contrary to what many people believe, even among those who have spoken for our freedoms in the past, the battle being waged by the FPI and Muslim conservatives was never really about Lady Gaga.
The stakes were much higher. This was an assault on our freedom of expression.

It certainly marks the return of censorship on artistic expression, not by the state as in the past, but by the use of raw mob power. Don’t be so shocked if all Indonesian and non-Indonesian performing artists from now on are required to submit their song lists as conditions for their permits. Before long, all types of gatherings will be equally subject to censorship.

Coming so close on the heels of the FPI attacks on the promotional tour by Canadian liberal Muslim writer Irshad Manji, the assault on freedom of expression is now almost complete. The discussions of her book Allah, Liberty and Love in Jakarta and Yogyakarta, even those held on university
campuses, were forcibly shut down by the FPI with the help of the police.
Sadly, many Indonesians have been quick to dismiss these events as problems confined to Lady Gaga and Manji. Performing artists and scholars who should have been defending their freedom were instead busy distancing themselves.

It did not escape their Indonesian critics that both Lady Gaga and Manji are defenders of homosexuality. This could be one reason why many people in Indonesia, where homophobia runs deep, would have nothing to do with them.
But as Lady Gaga moves on with her performances elsewhere and sells more records, and as Manji continues to recruit followers for her moral courage movement, it is Indonesians who have to brace themselves for more assaults on their freedoms and civil liberties. Those who think that the assaults on freedom will stop with Lady Gaga and Manji, and who thus remain silent, are sorely mistaken. They are the ultimate targets, and victims.

These two victories have only emboldened the FPI and similar radical Islamic groups to flex their muscles and torment those who don’t follow their strict moral beliefs. On a winning streak, they must already be planning their next move and targets.
Just look at the current state of freedom of religion. The silence of the “silent majority” has allowed the FPI to harass, torment and even kill followers of religious minorities. The attacks became increasingly violent and the targets widened because no one, or only very few, spoke up in defense of the religious freedom of the minorities.

Now freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are about to go the same way. Don’t bank on the police — the people sustained by taxpayers’ money — to come and protect our freedoms. In the attacks on religious minorities and in the episodes with Lady Gaga and Manji, police were part of the repression.
A pattern is clearly emerging where religious conservatives are pushing their strict Islamist agenda at the expense of our civil liberties. Not only do they have representatives in government, in the House of Representatives and among religious scholars, they also have thugs working on the streets to impose their agenda by force.

This raises a serious question about where Indonesia is now heading, 14 years after it got rid of the Soeharto dictatorship and launched the reform movement.

Are we seeing the emergence of a new form of tyranny, one that is defined more by the strength of the majority? Where are those on the other side of the fence in this Indonesian version of cultural war? Will they rise up and speak out to defend Indonesia with all its plurality and the civil liberties needed to hold this nation together and moving forward? Or, will they just take these assaults lying ational Police Traffic Corps headquarters in East Jakarta on Tuesday. The vehicles were carrying 20 boxes of evidence on a case surrounding the procurement of vehicle simulators. The KPK named former Traffic Corps chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo as a suspect on Tuesday and raided the headquarters to collect evidence.
(JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

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