Subject: Aceh rights activists push for truth and reconciliation commission [+Trisakti] 

also: JP: Pitting hope against the politics of human rights [The Attorney General's Office has said it will do nothing to investigate the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings as the House of Representatives maintains there were no elements of gross human rights abuses in the violence.]

The Jakarta Post Saturday, May 12, 2007

Aceh rights activists push for truth and reconciliation commission

Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post, Banda Aceh

An alliance of activists and human rights abuse victims in Aceh have completed a draft on the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission, which they plan to propose to the government.

They said Friday the draft would be made available to the public for suggestions.

"It took us a year to complete the draft," said Asiah, chairwoman of the local chapter of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence.

The draft encourages the local government to make a qanun, or sharia bylaw, on a truth and reconciliation commission, as prescribed in the peace agreement signed by the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement in Helsinki, Finland, in 2005. The accord requires the commission to be formed by August.

The 2006 Aceh Governance Law also addresses issued related to the commission and an ad hoc human rights tribunal.

The alliance says that a commission is vital to bring to the surface human rights violations that occurred in Aceh over 30 years until 2005.

Victims and activists have demanded justice over human rights violations during the civil war for some time.

Jakarta has strongly rejected a retroactive human rights law. An estimated 15,000 people died in the course of the conflict between the military and the GAM separatists.

"Unlike the government's draft (on a truth and reconciliation commission), ours is better because the process involved the Achenese community, especially victims," Asiah said.

Representatives of various local non-governmental organizations and rights abuse victims presented the draft in a workshop Friday. The draft also deals with compensation for victims of state violence during the conflict, suggesting it be agreed upon by the government and the beneficiary.

The activists say they hope that the commission's members would have the power to propose whether alleged rights should be taken to the ad hoc court.

Rukaiyah, a rights abuse victim, said the commission should be able to reveal the truth about past abuses in Aceh.

Muhammad Husain, 33, another victim, says he is still traumatized to speak of his mistreatment at the hands of the security forces.

"If and when I testify before the commission on what I experienced, would I get arrested?" he said.

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The Jakarta Post Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pitting hope against the politics of human rights

Tony Hotland, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The law is king. In Indonesia it hangs on the will of politicians and politics, and impunity is alive and well.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the world of human rights.

In a disheveled, thin blouse and a long, dark skirt, with pinned-up hair and wearing a pair of sandals, a mother asked question at a seminar on the new International Criminal Court.

"My son never came home. Can I take it to the International Criminal Court? I'm tired of waiting here," said Sinta.

The answer was "No, the court handles only human rights cases occurring after 2002". Some five minutes later, she took off.

From the abduction of activists to the shooting of students by security personnel during nationwide protests to usher in reform to the May 1998 bloodshed, the wounds remain open and a cure is unknown.

And on Thursday, nine years after four Trisakti University students were shot dead, setting off three days of rioting across the country, another round of mourning will be taking place, another series of rallies demanding the prosecution of the responsible will be held, in the full knowledge it will be the same next year.

The Attorney General's Office has said it will do nothing to investigate the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings as the House of Representatives maintains there were no elements of gross human rights abuses in the violence.

The two largest factions in the House are the Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, which are both close to the military.

"They use political reasoning to get their friends off the hook. The House is political, full of politicians and acts based on political senses. This is not a political issue, this is humanity," said Sumarsih, the recipient of the 2004 Yap Thiam Hien Award and the mother of Wawan, who was shot dead in the Semanggi I demonstration.

Meanwhile, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) is losing its battle, if were ever really in it at all.

Its conclusion that the shootings constituted gross human rights violation has ended up collecting dust. The results of its investigation into the May 1998 riot, which concluded the deaths of students constituted a grave human rights crime, have also been stashed away.

"We have no power to push the Attorney General's Office because it's under the authority of the President. So it's the President who can turn these results into something," commission chairman Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara said.

The commission has also launched an investigation into the abductions of democracy activists between 1997 and 1998, summoning retired and active Army officers including Gen. (ret) Wiranto, Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto and the current Defense Ministry's secretary-general, Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin.

Most of them have refused the summonses, saying the commission requires House approval.

The Constitution-mandated Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was to probe human rights violations from 1945 to 2000, has been reduced to nothing after the Constitutional Court said late last year that the law establishing it was against the Constitution and annulled it.

And while the President, also an Army general, was dragging his feet by not establishing the body until its April 2005 deadline, no one at the House budged.

If Sinta's sad statement at and departure from the seminar was any indication the attitudes of other mothers of the disappeared, they deserve to be allowed to mourn in peace without politicians using their loss for votes.

Or perhaps forgetting it is the idea.

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Terjemahan (atas jasa "Kataku"): http://66.114.70.144/

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service


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