Subject: JP: Military Objects to 'Truth' in Truth and Reconciliation Bill

The Jakarta Post Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Military Objects to 'Truth'

Kurniawan Hari, Jakarta

The House of Representatives (DPR) on Monday opened the debates of the bill on the truth and reconciliation commission with the Military/Police faction rejecting it outright before deliberations began.

Spokesman for the Military/Police faction Maj. Gen. Djasri Marin said the faction wanted the removal of the word "truth" from the bill's title.

He warned that any attempts to reveal the actual truth about many situations would only lead the nation down a path of new conflicts, therefore hampering national reconciliation efforts.

The faction, he said, suggested that the nation bury all hatchets in the past along with the truth, otherwise it would lead to a greater cycle of conflict.

"If we want to disclose everything for the sake of mere truth, it will prevent us from real reconciliation. Finding the truth will require a trial in court with all its impacts," he warned ominously without elaborating, while speaking with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra.

Only 20 of the total 50 legislators on the House's committee for the bill's deliberation turned up.

The Indonesian Military (TNI) has been blamed for a number of human rights abuses in the country in the past, most of which have never been investigated. A handful have been, however, with rights trials still ongoing in some cases.

The latest top officer who was tried was Maj. Gen. (ret) Rudolf Butar Butar who was sentenced to 10 years for his role in the Tanjung Priok massacre of 1984.

Different from the military faction, Mashadi of the Reform faction asserted that the commission had to clearly reveal the truth as well as the people who should held ultimately accountable for rights violations.

"However, the commission must open up a lot of space for reconciliation," he added.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) spokesman Permadi said the commission would need enough power to find the truth.

"The truth must be revealed, otherwise nobody is willing to take responsibility," he said.

The House and the government discussed the bill following a decree of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) in 2000 on national unity, which stipulates that a truth and reconciliation commission is a prerequisite for the nation to strengthen national unity.

The attempt to uphold the law must be followed by the nation's readiness and capability to disclose the truth of incidents in the past, to admit wrongdoings and to apologize for the sake of national reconciliation.

Responding to the debate, Mahendra warned the factions against focusing on the title of the bill, which he said was inconsequential.

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