A response to the Symposium on 1965 in Indonesia
JAKARTA, April 19, 2016
On 18-19 April 2016, Solidarity Forum for the Nation’s Children (FSAB), the President’s Review Council, the Indonesian Press Council, the National Commission on Human Rights, and several Indonesian universities held a national symposium: Dissecting the 1965 Tragedy through an Historical Approach. A number of parties were invited to speak—academics, military representatives, and practitioners, including human rights activists—with a focus on the results of various efforts to resolve the 1965 tragedy.
Besides statements by several current and former high-ranking officials, the state in this symposium has shown its reluctance to apologize and acknowledge the violence of 1965. Rather it has asked that the Indonesian nation forget the past. Symposium sessions comprised dynamic exchange of opinions and open debate about the violence of 1965 and the following years.
Whatever its shortcomings, AJAR sees this symposium as an important contribution to building dialog among groups with strong differences of opinion, something that has never happened before. On the other hand, AJAR also feels this symposium will have been pointless if it is not followed by concrete steps to resolve the 1965 tragedy and address grave human rights violations of the past. AJAR, therefore, stresses that the state is obligated to fulfill victims’ rights to truth, justice, and reparations along with guarantees that such violations will not be repeated. The state must ensure that these measures are based on respect for and fulfillment of the rights and dignity of victims.
In her symposium session, AJAR Director, Galuh Wandita, said, “It is time that Indonesia has the courage to face its painful past and acknowledge that the state itself committed human rights violations on a broad scale towards its own citizens. In essence, the state must seek to fix what was destroyed. I believe this effort will take a long time, even generations. What we are trying to do now will be revised and improved during a long process into the future. But now is the time for the Indonesian government to begin this journey of healing, and no longer be left behind by various efforts already being made by civil society and victims’ communities.”
AJAR urges the Indonesian government to immediately implement the recommendations of the Symposium as the first steps towards acknowledgement and truth-seeking. The government must guarantee safe spaces for dialog and freedom of expression in discussing the atrocities of the past that includes the commission of crimes against humanity in 1965 at local and national levels, to ensure constructive learning.
The government must also ensure that this response includes comprehensive reparations that complement justice mechanisms, restore victims’ trust, and provide social and economic programs, prioritizing rehabilitation for women, the elderly, children, and those living in geographically isolated locations.
Director, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
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