Hard work needed to uncover the truth behind the 1965-66 affair

Kompas Newspaper – August 31, 2013
Hilmar Farid (Tempo)
Hilmar Farid (Tempo)

Jakarta – The long fight to uncover and moreover reconcile the 1965-66 affair is slowly starting to show results. Still needed of course is hard work and a readiness on the part of several parties to uncover the truth and come to terms with the facts of the affair.

“There is a point of light in the dark tunnel although this must be followed up because the nation cannot move forward if its feet are still tied to the darkness of the past”, said historian Hilmar Farid at a conference titled “Historical Justice in Confronting the Tragedy of 1965” at the Driyarkara College of Philosophy in Jakarta on Friday August 30.

That point of light, according to Farid, is the outcome of the judicial review of Article 60(g) of Law Number 12/2003 on General Elections that restored the rights of former political prisoners to vote and be elected.

“Then there was MA (Supreme Court) decision 1050 of 2007 that found in favour of the heir of I Gede Puger, the former governor of Bali who was sadistically murdered in late 1965”, said Farid.

Farid said that Kodam IX Udayana (regional military command) at the time seized land and property belonging to I Gede Puger. The Supreme Court ordered IX/Udayana to pay compensation of 128 million rupiah to I Gede Puger’s heir. If the accused failed to do this, they must pay 1.5 million rupiah per day.

“Of course the decision was not implemented, but, yes, it would not indeed have been possible without cultural preconditions”, he said.

Historian Asvi Warman Adam also conceded that reconciling the 1965-66 affair will not be easy. “As the momentum grows it will surely confront greater opposition. Big or small however it must be done. I for example have tried to rehabilitate [the name] of Waperdam (Deputy Prime Minister during the Old Order period) I Soebandrio”, he said..

“The legal suit by former State Palace dancer Nani Nurani was also granted. Nurani finally obtained a KTP (ID card) for life and is now also demanding financial compensation for the actions of the government at the time”, said Adam.

National historical commission

Adam also raised the need for the establishment of a national historical commission. Historica Magazine chief editor Bonnie Triyana also agreed with Farid. Such a commission would not have to be funded from the state budget, but could be formed by non-government organisations to study human rights violations linked with the 1965 affair.

“The Historical commission would pass on its recommendations to the state in order for it to deliver an admission of the state’s neglect in the 1965 affair. Also to push the head of state to admit the crime and pursue formal channels to try the perpetrators”, said Triyana.

Farid proposed that there be serious efforts undertaken to investigate and draft a weighty report on the 1965-66 affair. Such a report would require the involvement of human rights activists, historians and researches. The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) report into 1965 that was drafted last year could be used as a point of reference.

Farid and Triyana both explained the progressive steps taken by Guatemala. Not long ago a Guatemalan court found former dictator Rios Montt guilty of the mass murders that took place in 1982-1983.

Former Komnas HAM member Stanley Adi Prasetyo also questioned the government’s seriousness in resolving the human rights violations that took place in 1965.

During the event, though teleconferencing, a discussion was held involving hundreds of participants from Melbourne (Australia), Vancouver (Canada), Copenhagen (Denmark) and London (Britain). Clergyman Baskara T Wardaya and his team also launched the book The Truth will Out, a translation of the book Suara di Balik Prahara (Voices Behind the Tempest) containing narrations by victims of the 1965 tragedy. (RYO)

[Masih Perlu Kerja Keras: Perjuangan atas Peristiwa 1965-1966 Mulai Membuahkan Hasil – Kompas. Sabtu, 31 Agustus 2013. Translated by James Balowski.]