Subject: JP: Reconciliation commission plan left high and dry

Reconciliation commission plan left high and dry

National News - October 23, 2006

Tony Hotland, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The President stays mum, his spokesman has no idea, the state secretary refuses to talk, the justice minister is too tired to talk, and no one in the House of Representatives appears interested in pushing for it.

If this is the way people get treated when they attempt to seek justice here, they should be ashamed of ever having entertained the notion of Indonesia taking this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

One-and-a-half years since it was supposed to be up and running, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (KKR) remains nothing more than a dream, despite all the promises.

"I've no idea. I think the state secretary is working on it," said presidential spokesperson Andi Mallarangeng this week.

State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra tried to evade questions about the KKR, saying he did not want to talk about it and that we should ask the President or the justice minister instead.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin, who has been accused of involvement in a massive graft case in the General Elections Commission (KPU), said he was tired of the subject.

"Ask Andi. I've done my part in screening the candidates. I'm tired," he said.

The KKR is a commission mandated by Law No. 27/2004 to investigate and bring closure to human rights abuses that happened before 2000.

It is supposed to be based on the premise of reconciliation, and that human rights violators will receive a formal pardon if they admit to their wrongdoings and the victims forgive them. If not, they can be prosecuted before the human rights tribunal.

The KKR should have been established in April 2005, but Yudhoyono apparently does not consider it a priority even though the committee screening candidate members submitted its list months ago.

The director of the Institute for Police Research and Advocacy (Elsam), Agung Putri Astrid Kartika, said the KKR was essential for reconciliation as it was required under the special autonomy legislation for Aceh and Papua, two provinces that have suffered from large-scale human rights abuses.

In addition, there are the families and victims of the Tanjung Priok massacre in 1984, the forced disappearances of government critics in 1997, the May 1998 riots, the 1998 Trisakti student shootings and the 1999 murder spree during the East Timor referendum.

Yudhoyono was the military's chief of territorial staff who determined military and political strategies during the 1998 riots and the 1999 East Timor referendum.

He was also the coordinating minister for political and security affairs during martial law in Aceh.

Then came the heinous murder in 2004 of rights campaigner and military critic, Munir, after he had vowed to disclose graft cases at the Office of the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs.

The overturning by the Supreme Court of Pollycarpus' conviction in the Munir case means that no one has been held accountable one year after the murder. The President has made lots of pious noises about "all-out efforts" to find the killer, while Munir's colleagues have been left high and dry.

Meanwhile, our legislators seem to be slaves to politics and vested interests. Those sitting on the House's so-called human-rights commission have turned their backs on the victims of the Trisakti and Semanggi student shootings, which occurred around the time of Soeharto's fall.

Like their predecessors, at first they did not consider the shootings to be gross human rights violations. Then, they promised to look into the matter. However, to date they have done nothing and the families of the victims continue to be in the dark as to who the real masterminds were.

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