19 January 2012

‘Systemic’ violations found in 1965 purge

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 01/18/2012 8:19 AM
Life of suffering: Victims of events in 1965 sing a protest song inside the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) office in Jakarta on Tuesday. They and several rights activists asked Komnas HAM to reveal the results of its investigation into the gross human rights violations committed by the state during the 1965/1966 massacre, which the government blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party and its affiliates. Antara/Fanny Octavianus 

Afandi Saleh has been waiting for justice for 33 years after his release from Buru Island in 1979, where he was held for a decade without a trial for a crime he said he did not commit. 

The 73-year-old said he had little direct knowledge of his alleged offense: the murder of five Indonesian Army generals and one lieutenant at Lubang Buaya, East Jakarta, in 1965, perpetrated as part of a coup attempt by the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

“I happened to be at Lubang Buaya taking part in a military training held by the AURI [Indonesian Air Force]on orders from president Sukarno. I learned that the killings happened near our training facility on the radio soon after I got home,” Afandi said.

Things soon turned brutal as tens of thousands of people across the nation were killed in a purge of the PKI.

Afandi fled and was arrested in 1969 in Cipete, South Jakarta, after living on the run for five years. He said he was tortured in several prisons before he was transferred to Buru Island in Maluku, where thousands of PKI members were exiled or imprisoned.

Afandi’s assertions of innocence may soon be vindicated. 

Nurcholis, the deputy chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said on Tuesday that a special team had collected evidence over a 3-year investigation that indicated that government officials were allegedly involved in gross human rights violations in the aftermath of the failed coup. 

“We found indications in our investigation that gross human rights violations occurred. We found evidence that [the purge] meets nine out of 10 criteria for crimes against humanity,” he said.

Article 9 of the 2000 Human Rights Law defines a crime against humanity as a systematic and widespread attack on civilians that includes murder, annihilation, slavery, forced disappearances, limitations on physical freedom, torture, rape, forced prostitution, widespread abuse based on ideology, race, ethnicity, tradition, religion and gender, and apartheid.

Commission member Stanley Adi Prasetyo said that apartheid was the only crime against humanity that did not take place in the killings that followed the coup attempt.

Stanley said that investigators found indications that state officials were directly involved in a systematic campaign to eliminate communist groups in the country.

“Our investigation shows that the Operational Command for the Restoration of Security and Order [Kopkamtib], with former president Soeharto as its commander, was most responsible,” Stanley said.

According to the team’s soon-to-be-released report, there was evidence of systematic mass murder in every province except in Maluku and Papua, during the PKI purge, he said.

The team also found evidence that police precincts and schools had been turned into “torture chambers”.

Stanley said that civilian and military officials, with state consent, gave orders or made decisions as part of a systematic hunt aimed at killing the alleged members of the PKI.

“Some of these officials are still alive, but some have died. Charges could be brought against those who are still alive, but this will be up to prosecutors,” he said.

Komnas HAM said it would release the investigative team’s full report on the coup and the purge on Feb. 8 at a plenary session. (msa)

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