Priest echoes tribunal call for Indonesia to own violent past

Reconciliation is the most appropriate measure, says lecturer at Catholic University of Sanata Dharma
Priest echoes tribunal call for Indonesia to own violent past

An activist in this file photo displays artificial skeletons during a protest in Jakarta to demand justice for victims of the 1965-66 massacre. ( photo) 

Church leaders in Indonesia have echoed the call of an international tribunal for reconciling a crime that killed an estimated 500,000 people, but a government official rejected the tribunal's authority.

The International People's Tribunal concluded that Indonesia is responsible for genocide, imprisonment, slavery, torture, forced disappearances, sexual violence and false propaganda during the 1965-66 Indonesian massacre of communists.

"Reconciliation is the most appropriate measure," Father Fransiskus Xaverius Baskara Tulus Wardaya, a historian and lecturer at Catholic University of Sanata Dharma in Yogyakarta, told on July 26.

The Jesuit priest who has researched the purge in detail stressed that the government should seek to reconcile with the victims.

The tribunal handed down the verdict last week on July 20. They asked the Indonesian government to apologize to the victims, survivors, and their families, prosecute all perpetrators, and ensure adequate compensation.

On July 25, families of the victims handed the verdict to the National Commission for Human Rights in Jakarta.

Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, minister for political, legal and security told media that the Indonesian government rejects any intervention from outside parties in handling the massacre.

"Indonesia has its own legal system. I do not want anyone else to dictate to this nation," Panjaitan said.

Father Wardaya said: "Political reconciliation is meaningful if it unveils truth and there is a recognition of the truth."

"Reconciliation also entails compensation for the victims," he said, but warned against seeking reconciliation through court trials, because most victims and perpetrators have died, and evidence is hard to find so long after the crime.

"It is too difficult [through court process] because many victims were thrown into rivers," Father Wardaya said.

The state must officially acknowledge the crimes committed in 1965 and after, according to the priest. "The president must establish a special committee to create a road map to settle past human rights violations."

"Also, the president must issue a decree on Reparation, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation of the victims of 1965-66,” he said. "And ensure that the state is present and protects people's efforts to settle past violations."

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