4 September 2010

Families fight against 'politics of amnesia'

Jakarta Post - September 1, 2010

Jakarta -- Far from the glamor connected to international commemorations,
families of victims of forced disappearances and gross human rights
violations gathered to mark the International Day of Forced Disappearances
on Aug. 30 with the resolute reminder that they refuse to have their
history swept under the carpet by government inaction.

Yati Andriyani, an activist from the Commission for Disappearances and
Victims of Violence (Kontras), said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had
employed "politics of amnesia" to avoid taking action against gross human
rights violations committed in the past.

The President has not yet implemented four recommendations made by the
House of Representatives in September 2009 regarding the forced
disappearance of 13 activists and other people during the period before the
House's historic 1998 plenary assembly.

"This is done by discreetly refusing to follow up on investigation findings
collected by the National Commission on Human Rights," Yati said, adding
the commission had concluded investigations on several human right
violations such as the 1998 Semanggi and Trisakti tragedies, and the May
1998 riots.

The commission concluded the cases, including the forced disappearance of
the 13, as gross human rights violation.

The House, she added, had not yet fulfilled their mandate by recommending
the formation of an ad hoc human rights court for all cases investigated by
the commission, besides the one for the kidnapping and forced
disappearances of the 13.

The President has also not yet enacted recommendations regarding the forced
disappearances and coordinate the work between the Attorney General's
Office and the human rights commission in solving all cases, she said.
"These are outcomes of the politics of amnesia," she told The Jakarta Post.

Mugiyanto, an activist from the Indonesian Association of Families of the
Disappeared (IKOHI), further added that the scrapping of the 2004 Truth and
Reconciliation Commission Law "expressed the President's political view of
shunning past cases".

The Constitutional Court ruled the law unconstitutional in 2006, therefore
disbanding the commission. Mugiyanto added the court had recommended the
drafting of a new truth and reconciliation law, which the government has
not yet acted on. "This shows the government's feeble political will in
acting on past cases of human rights violations," he told the Post.

The offering of compensation to victims and families of human rights
violations and forced disappearances devoid of initiative to unveil the
truth, he added, acted as a "negative shortcut". "They don't want to be
accountable by saying that it would set off political mayhem," he said.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar previously said the
government was focusing more on providing compensation to the victims of
the May 1998 riots, rather than finding the perpetrators. At least 1,200
people died amid widespread looting and arson in the racially spurred May

According to Mugiyanto, public pressure to deal with the cases was needless
if the government truly placed value on human rights. "The state must be
responsible in safeguarding and enforcing human rights," he said, adding
that the responsibility was part of the Constitution. (gzl)

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