The following is the translation of the introduction and a section from an op-ed piece written by PRD/Papernas leader Rudi Hartono published on the Papernas website Berdikari on May 15 titled “The fuss about human rights in May” (Hingar Bingar Isu HAM Di Bulan Mei). Written prior to their official registration as candidates for the July 8 presidential elections, it is a good example of the “critical support” the PRD/Papernas is giving to the Jusuf Kalla-Wiranto and Megawati Sukarnoputri-Prabowo Subianto presidential tickets under the guise of attacking the neoliberal policies of incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his running mate former Central Bank governor Boediono. It stands in stark contrast to the campaigns being waged against Prabowo and Wiranto by human rights activists in Indonesia and a recent statement included below by the US based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the highly respected Indonesian human rights group the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras). The full text of the Indonesian language version of Hartono’s article can be found at: papernas.org.
The fuss about human rights in May
By Rudi Hartono
Jakarta -- In the lead up to the 2009 presidential elections, several former senior ranking military officers have embellished the electoral arena. They can be mentioned here: Prabowo Subianto who is still endevouring to find a way to become a candidate, Wiranto who has declared himself as a candidates together with JK [Vice President and Golkar Party chairperson Jusuf Kalla], and SBY [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] who has the greatest chance [of election]. But the last one here is very rarely referred to as the personification of a human rights violating general. Who knows if it is because he has just been missed out or whether it is intentional.
I am not a supporter of senior military officers or the New Order [regime of the late President Suharto], in fact I oppose them. But, the matter that needs to be discussed here is whether or not these military officers represent the most reactionary enemies of democracy and the people. This issue needs to be debated again, moreover because as the presidential elections draw near it may be used to roll out issues in order to benefit one of the camps, the SBY camp, while eliminating the other camps, the camps of the human rights violating generals.
[First two sections not translated.]
Human rights and the presidential elections
Unlike previous commemorations of the May [1996 riots in Jakarta], the movements taking up the issue of human rights should be careful, at least for several reasons. First, in the lead up to the presidential elections, human rights are not neutral issues, but are an issue that can be controlled to attack specific presidential candidate figures and provide advantages to other presidential candidates. Second, the human rights issues that are developing at present are more about the issue of crimes against humanity, such as abductions, murder, violence and so forth. This pivots around the May incident and the abduction of activist in 1996-1998 [sic], so it is very easy for this issue to be manipulated in the interests of a specific presidential candidate’s camp. Why aren’t the crimes of the butchers of 1965-66 being exposed?
It cannot be concealed that the camps of the [vice presidential candidates] Prabowo [Subianto] and Wiranto are the camps that are being harmed most, while the SBY camp is benefiting in a small way because of the tendency for it to be considered the reformist camp. Yet SBY’s crimes against humanity are far greater, particularly because of his neoliberal policies, such as poverty, unemployment and so on. It is for this reason therefore, that it needs to be considered whether the human rights issues being raised by the movement need to think about the following issues: First, their perspective of human rights must be broadened not only to human rights violations in the form of abductions, shootings, murder and so on, but also human rights in the economic, social and cultural (EKOSOB) fields, so that neoliberalism also can also become a target. Second, because if their perspective is broadened, then their target would not only be specific presidential
candidates, but be directed also against all the presidential candidates who have violated human rights, such as education, healthcare, employment opportunities and the like.
So, the perspective of struggling for human rights cannot just be one of talking about the May riots and the abduction of activists, but must also talk broadly about violations of EKOSOB, which are being committed by neoliberalism. This needs to be done so we are not trapped by criminals who are not yet aggressive, which will provide opportunities and greater space to criminals who are more savage and brutal.
[Last section not translated.]
Rudi Hartono is a researcher with the Institute of Liberation, Media and Social Studies (LPMIS), the Manager of Jurnal Arah Kiri and the Chief Editor of Berdikari Online.
Accountability in the run-up to the Indonesian presidential election
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network Press Release - July 3, 2009
Joint statement by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras)
As Indonesia prepares for its second direct presidential election on July 8th, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) together urge the Indonesian government, its citizens, and the international community to highlight past human rights violations and to push the next Indonesian administration to end impunity for human rights violators.
We are especially concerned about the well-documented human rights records of some of the candidates, including vice presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto. Prabowo, vice-presidential candidate for Megawati Sukarnoputri, was commander of Indonesia's special forces unit Kopassus from 1995 to 1998. Under his command, Kopassus kidnapped and disappeared a group of student activists during the last part of the dictator Suharto's rule. For this, he was later forced to retire by a military court. He also presided over brutal actions by Kopassus in occupied East Timor, including the torture, kidnapping and killings of independence supporters.
Wiranto, vice-presidential candidate for Jusuf Kalla, was commander of Indonesia's military during the tumultuous period of 1998 and 1999, when Suharto was pushed from power by widespread demonstrations and elite disillusionment with his rule. The military and its militias wreaked havoc in East Timor during its vote for independence. For his role, Wiranto was indicted for crimes against humanity by the UN-backed serious crimes process.
Kontras and ETAN are concerned that should either of these candidates assume office, their past crimes will impede the next president's ability to satisfactorily resolve outstanding cases of human rights violations by Indonesia's security forces and hinder the critical movement toward military reform and accountability. Almost certainly Wiranto and Prabowo's own impunity would continue for human rights and war crimes.
Under the current Yudhoyono administration, progress in the major human rights cases has been halting at best and military reform efforts have stalled. Also a former general, he has shown only a limited commitment to expanding human rights. Human rights violations have escalated in Papua. The involvement of the highest levels of the government's intelligence agency in the assassination of human rights activist Munir, who was murdered just prior to Yudhoyono taking office, has yet to be satisfactorily resolved. President Yudhoyono once declared the Munir case a "test case for whether Indonesia has changed."
As the legal process has stalled in a number of important cases, the installation of a presidential team which respects human rights and can inject new momentum into these cases is critical. The international community can greatly assist efforts for genuine accountability and military reform by restricting military assistance to Indonesia. Together Indonesia's government, its citizens, and the international community must push for human rights accountability no matter who assumes office.