Indonesia’s 1965 Violence a ‘Serious Human Rights Violation’: Komnas HAM

By webadmin on 09:15 am Jul 24, 2012
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Ronna Nirmala

The National Commission on Human Rights has called the orgy of violence that shook the country in 1965 following a failed coup attempt blamed on the communists a serious human rights violation and a crime against humanity.

It is thought that up to half a million people died in the purge targeting the left, sparked by an attempt to overthrow the country’s founding President Sukarno. In the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt, Maj. Gen. Suharto mobilized his force and effectively took control of the country. He would eventually become president and serve for more than 30 years.

After a four-year investigation, the rights commission, known as Komnas HAM, found sufficient preliminary evidence of serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity, said Nurkholis, who headed the investigation team.

“After thoroughly studying and analyzing all the findings, including testimony from victims and witnesses, reports, relevant documents and other information, the ad hoc team investigating serious human rights violations in the 1965-66 incident, concluded that violations had indeed been committed,” Nurkholis said on Monday.

He said the preliminary findings indicated incidents of murder, extermination, slavery, eviction or forced eviction, deprivation of freedom, torture, rape and abuse. “These acts were part of attacks launched against civilians according to the rulers’ policy,” Nurkholis said

Komnas HAM has identified some of those responsible for the violence, he said. “Based on the series of crimes that took place and the descriptions provided by the victims and the evidence that has been cross-examined, we have come up with several names that we believe were involved in the field during the 1965-66 incident,” he said.

Although he declined to provide names, Komnas HAM did not hesitate to point its finger at the Command for the Restoration of Security and Public Order (Kopkamtib), the pervasive security network set up by Suharto following the 1965 coup attempt.

“The military command or officials who failed to control their forces effectively to prevent, stop or take action against human rights violations are responsible for the incident,” he said.

The investigation team, which was established on June 1, 2008, and worked until April 30, 2012, questioned 349 witnesses who either heard about incidents during the violence or experienced it firsthand.

Komnas HAM attributed the lengthy investigation to several factors, including the wide geographic area covered, budget restraints and the act that many of the witnesses had died .

Nurkholis called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to take over the case to provide justice to the survivors.

Bejo Untung, who survived the violence, urged the president to follow up on the findings and apologize to all the victims and their families.

“The president can issue a presidential decree to follow up Komnas HAM’s findings and to apologize to the surviving victims and their families and the families of victims who lost their lives during the incident,” said Bejo, chairman of the Foundation for the Investigation of Murdered Victims in 1965-66.

Bejo said the president would be neglecting serious human rights violations and a human tragedy on a massive scale if he did not follow up the findings.

Komnas HAM also urged the attorney general to investigate the case. “We submitted all our investigation results to the attorney general on Friday,” said Kabul Supriyadi, another member of Komnas HAM’s investigation team. . “Now we ask the attorney general to immediately process it and investigate it.”