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No state apology for massacre of 500,000

Official reacts defiantly to human rights report

Haris Azhar, KontraS coordinator Haris Azhar, KontraS coordinator
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • October 2, 2012
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The government yesterday rejected a report by Komnas HAM - the National Commission on Human Rights - which found gross human rights violations in the 1965 anti-communist purge that led to the deaths of more than half a million people.

Komnas HAM released the report in July, calling for a reconciliation and truth committee and a presidential apology to the survivors and the families of victims.

The investigation of the conflict between between PKI - the Indonesian Communist Party - and the military began in 2008 and included interviews with hundreds of witnesses. The commission uncovered evidence of murder, enslavement, expulsion and forcible transfer of population, incarceration, torture, rape and enforced disappearances.

“Look at the incident from a wider perspective. Don’t ask for an apology without looking at what really happened,” Djoko Suyanto, coordinating minister for political and security affairs, told media yesterday in Jakarta.

The incident should be seen as a defensive move by the state, since the PKI threatened national stability, he said. “If it didn’t happen, our country won’t be what it is today.”

He also questioned the commission’s findings. “Define 'gross violation of human rights'," he said. "Against whom? What if it had happened the other way around?”

Speaking for the commission, Nur Kholis said the minister’s statements show that the government still holds a reactionary view of the purge.

Haris Azhar from KontraS - the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence - also critized the minister’s remarks.

“He should not say that. His remarks only support impunity against perpetrators of crimes happening in the past,” he said.

“In the context of human rights, the state’s recognition is an important pillar of any attempt to deal with past human rights violations,” Azhar said.

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