Yudhoyono Orders AGO Probe Into 1965 ‘Serious Rights Violations’
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the attorney general to follow up on the National Commission on Human Rights’ recent report on human rights violations during the Indonesian government’s 1965-66 anti-communist purge.
The Commission, abbreviated as Komnas HAM, announced the findings of its four-year investigation on Monday, saying it had found evidence of serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity. The purge is reckoned to have killed more than half a million people.
“What Komnas HAM has reported will be studied by the attorney general, who is expected to report to me and other relevant parties. We want a good, just, factual, smart and constructive settlement,” Yudhoyono told a press conference at the Attorney General’s Office in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Yudhoyono said he would also consult with the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), the House of Representatives (DPR), the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and the Supreme Court, among other institutions.
He said that he had studied the strategies that South Africa, Cambodia, Bosnia and other sites of gross human rights abuses had used to deal with their violent histories.
“We can pick whichever, in order to settle the historical issue justly. We have to think clearly, and be honest and objective about what happened in the past. We cannot distort history and facts,” the president said.
Speaking after the press conference, Attorney General Basrief Arief said he would “probe” the Komnas HAM findings, and promised to share the results of his investigation with the public.
“We call this kind of probe a ‘pre-prosecution.’ The investigation will decide whether or not there will be enough evidence [to bring the case to court],” Basrief explained.
Komnas HAM’s report cited incidents of murder, extermination, slavery, forced eviction, deprivation of freedom, torture, rape and other abuses.
The purge was catalyzed by an attempt to overthrow the country’s founding President Sukarno. In the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup, 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.
“These acts were part of attacks launched against civilians according to the rulers’ policy,” Komnas HAM commissioner Nurkholis said.
Nurkholis declined to provide names, but did not hesitate to point fingers 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 officials who failed to prevent, stop or take action against human rights violations are responsible for the incident,” he said.
The Komnas HAM 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 length of the investigation to several factors, including the wide geographic area covered, budget constraints and the fact that many of the witnesses had died since the time of the events.