Subject: Komnas HAM Wants Candidates to Hold Forum on Human Rights [+Neo-Liberalism Accusations Fly in DPR]

also: JG: Neo-Liberalism Accusations Fly in DPR; History lessons lack objectivity, activists say

The Jakarta Globe May 30, 2009

Politicos May Talk Human Rights

by Febriamy Hutapea

After discussing their economic policies at a previous forum, the three presidential candidates may tackle human rights issues next, their campaign teams said on Friday.

The independent National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has proposed holding a forum for the candidates to discuss how they would deal with human rights issues if elected, said Ifdhal Kasim, the commission’s chairman.

While the forum could open up the candidates’ track records on human rights to public scrutiny, Ifdhal said that was not the purpose . “We want a constructive dialogue,” he said. “What we need is to solve human rights issues in the near future.”

At least two of the vice presidential candidates — Gen. (ret.) Wiranto and Gen. (ret.) Prabowo — are widely believed to have been involved in major human rights violations during their military careers.

Both were allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of students in Jakarta and the May 1998 riots, and have also been accused of responsibility for the violence surrounding the UN-sponsored referendum in East Timor that led to the territory’s separation from Indonesia in 1999.

Many human rights violations were also reported when the government placed Aceh under effective martial law from 2003 to 2005.

Martial law in the province came into effect during Megawati Sukarnoputri’s presidency, when the current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, served as her coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs.

The candidates on Thursday formally agreed on the format, topics and moderators for the five presidential and vice presidential debates scheduled during the campaign. Topics range from good governance and supremacy of the law, but do not include human rights.

Ifdhal said the proposed forum would gauge the candidates’ commitment to human rights issues. The forum would consist of a speech from each candidate and a question and answer session between the candidates and the audience, which would include family members of human rights victims. There would be three sessions, one for each candidate, similar to the recent economic forums with Kadin.

Indra Piliang, a member of Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s and Wiranto’s campaign team, said that the two were ready to provide a clear explanation of their human rights commitment.

“It’s a good event,” Indra said. “We will give the answers just as they are, not based on the claims from biographies or political books by some authors.”

Anas Urbaningrum, from Yudhoyono’s and former Bank Indonesia Governor Boediono’s campaign team, said they welcomed the idea.

“Yudhoyono will attend the forum as long as his schedule permits,” Anas said.

Hasto Kristianto, a member of the campaign team for Megawati and Prabowo, said that the event could be used to clarify Prabowo’s role in past cases of alleged human rights abuses.


The Jakarta Globe May 30, 2009

Neo-Liberalism Accusations Fly in DPR

by Febriamy Hutapea

The campaign team of former President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Friday used a discussion in the House of Representatives to accuse the government of taking a neo-liberalist approach to its economic policies.

Hasto Kriatianto, a member of the campaign team backing Megawati and her running mate Prabowo Subianto, said that over the past five years, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s government had proposed several neo-liberalist ideas when forming policies.

Hasto, also a member of Megawati’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said his party had evidence to prove that neo-liberalism was at work in the formation of the country’s economic policies.

“We have repeatedly seen that existing policies are aimed at liberalizing our international trade policies,” Hasto said. “The government has even proven receptive toward overseas products in the agricultural field.”

He said the PDI-P had repeatedly opposed the policies and had managed to scuttle several laws and regulations that smacked of neo-liberalism.

Hasto cited the investment bill, which proposed a free trade zone in Bintan, Batam and Karimun islands, and the bill on the 2009 state budget.

“The absence of restrictions on rice imports was actually a criticism of our food policies but the debate that followed went into the technical aspects … and failed to consider the issue of why we are importing rice,” he said.

The government, Hasto said, has also failed to intervene during rice harvest period, leading to a drastic fall in the price of unhusked rice.

“We have proven that neo-liberalism is at work and has influenced the mind-set of our people with regard to the economy.”

Zulkiflimansyah, a member of the campaign team for Yudhoyono and his running mate, former Bank Indonesia Governor Boediono, said that neo-liberalism had some positive aspects.

“Not everything related to a market-oriented economy is wrong. Some concepts can be applied but of course there is also a need to protect our markets,” said Zulkiflimansyah, who hails from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) .

“Don’t just say that neo-liberalism is bad if you can’t provide a solution,” he said.

Zulkiflimansyah said that even if the initial concept for a policy was neo-liberalist in nature, “If we look at the end product, a lot has been changed and those policies are running against the concept of neo-liberalism.”

He, too, cited the case of the investment bill.

“In that law, we have an article that stipulates that we provide incentives for investors who use local products,” he said.

“Whoever the candidates are, they would have difficulties separating themselves from the market. The important thing is how we interact with this policy,” Zulkiflimansyah said.

The Jakarta Post [web site] May 29, 2009

History lessons lack objectivity, activists say

Human rights activists deem history education materials as biased, especially toward the families of individuals who became victims of the nation's bloodiest events in the past.

"All history lesson materials are written from the perspective of the perpetrators, not from the victims," Andhy Panca Kurniawan, an activist, said during a workshop for history teachers in Jakarta on Friday.

"For example, every single victim who was killed during such tragedies as the 1965 Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) rebellion and May 1998 riots, is always depicted as the bad guy in history books," he added.

1965 saw mass arrests by the state of anyone related to the PKI. The state claimed that the PKI had masterminded a coup attempt on Sukarno's governance following the systematic murders of high-ranking army officers.

The alleged PKI supporters were then imprisoned, and anyone related to them, including their children and relatives, were neither allowed to work as state employees nor participate in general elections throughout the New Order era under the dictatorship of Soeharto.

The era spanned 32 years and was ended in 1998 by another bloody incident, known as the May Tragedy. Nongovernmental organizations on human rights said that around 1,000 people were killed during the tragedy.

Both the government and the House of Representatives have never acknowledged that a massive number of human rights violations took place during that incident.

"We have to remember that these victims are also humans and have husbands, wives and children," Andhy said.

"That is why it is important for history teachers to teach and show their students that history is multidimensional," he added.

Suciwati, the wife of deceased human rights warrior Munir, said she hoped that history teachers would empower themselves to teach the true essence of history.

"All of the victims are only viewed as numbers in history books. I hope that in future, teachers will be able to fully explain the whole background and the reasons for a historical event," she said.(hdt)

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