In response, Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD explained the reasons why the government has only acknowledged but not apologised for past gross human rights violations.
The question and answer session between Indonesian exiles and Mahfud took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Sunday August 27. The event was broadcast during a virtual conference at the Republic of Indonesia Embassy (KBRI) in Den Haag.
Mahfud, along with Human Rights and Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly met with victims of the 1965 affair who are living in Holland. The meeting was held in context of the government's non-judicial resolution of past gross human rights violation (PPHAM).
Initially, Sungkono conveyed his thanks to President Widodo for publically acknowledging that 12 gross human rights violations had taken place in Indonesia. Sungkono said that Widodo had acted in a humane way by not forgetting this.
"First of all, I want to convey my appreciation to the President of the Republic of Indonesia Bapak [Mr] Joko Widodo who has acknowledged 12 cases of gross human rights violations. Wow, this is extraordinary. It has been 57 years, maybe longer, the issue has been neglected, manipulated and forgotten. [But] Pak Jokowi has acknowledged that this occurred in Indonesia. Pak Jokowi has done something humane", said Sungkono.
Nevertheless, Sungkono said he feels that Widodo's public statement is not yet complete, saying that Widodo has still not apologised for these abuses.
"But, I feel that Pak Jokowi's statement is still not yet complete. If he has acknowledged such a big sin, why hasn't he apologised, just expressed regret", he added.
Mahfud responded to Sungkono's statement directly saying that the government does not need to apologies because it is the reformasi government that overthrew the New Order regime of former president Suharto, referring to the political reform process that began in 1998.
"The current government is a reformasi government, it forced the New Order government to step down, and we forced it to step down. So who are we being called on to apologise to, what are you talking about, we brought down those who should apologise. It should be them that apologise to us, not in fact us being called on to apologise. That's back to front in our thinking", said Mahfud.
"Together for 32 years we were governed by authoritarianism, right, then we fought back, we overthrew it, so we formed a legal process, that's what was given first to former PKI [Indonesian Communist Party members] who used to be stigmatised as evil", he added.
Mahfud said that the 1965 affair happened decades ago. But, said Mahfud, the current government is still continuing to try to resolve it through the law.
"If you want to be a DPR [House of Representatives] member, want to be a governor, all of these rights are open to you. That's the first that that was opened up, and we're the ones who opened it. So don't then call on us to apologise, it was our people who overthrew the regime. Now, that's what we think. Because of that, then we made the law, what law? Resolve it by taking them to court, done. So who resolved it? Komnas HAM [the National Human Rights Commission]? The DPR? The Attorney General's Office? We have been working on this for decades", said Mahfud.
Mahfud said that under criminal law it must be clear who the perpetrators are, and that in this case the New Order regime has already been punished politically.
"First, who are the perpetrators, if it's criminal law the perpetrators must be clear, right. If its criminal law, the perpetrators must be clear, the perpetrators are all dead. It's the same with the victims, yes, the same as the men of that age when they did it, at that time they were TNI [Indonesian military], sub-district heads, ministers, they're already old, now they're gone", he said.
"Then, under criminal law you're not allowed to punish other people who were not the direct perpetrators. Remember this, sir, the regime? The regime has already been punished politically. It's already been overthrown, right? You can't order that anymore, say your evil, for example. The politics of it are resolved, what criminals do you want to find? Their offspring? It's not permissible for people to inherit crimes to their offspring, it's not allowed. We'll find the perpetrators, who they are if they still exist?", he added. (whn/knv)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Eksil Korban '65 Singgung Jokowi Tak Minta Maaf, Mahfud Bilang Begini".]