Families of Semanggi student killings will continue fight for justice despite court ruling

Kompas.com – March 10, 2021
Maria Sumarsih holds umbrella at Kamisan (Thursday) action in front of state palace – Undated (RMOL)

Tatang Guritno, Jakarta – The lawyer representing the families of victims of the Semanggi I and II tragedies, Muhammad Isnur, says that they will take their case to the Supreme Court following a ruling against them by the State Administrative High Court (PTTUN).

The PTTUN decided to cancel an earlier ruling by the Jakarta Administrative Court (PTUN) in a suit filed by the families of the Semanggi tragedies against Attorney General ST Burhanuddin.

Isnur said that his client, Maria Sumarsih, the mother of one of the students killed during the Semanggi I tragedy, will not step back from her efforts to seek justice.

"Right from the start Bu [Madam] Sumarsih took a stand, she has been fighting for more than 20 years, there's no such word as retreat, fear, or concern over this ruling. She will continue on and submit an appeal with the Supreme Court", explained Isnur at a virtual press conference on Wednesday March 10.

Isnur hopes that the appeal with the Supreme Court (MA) can correct the PTTUN's ruling and restore a sense of justice to the families of the victims.

"We hope that the MA can correct the PTTUN's ruling and restore justice and truth to the victims, to the ordinary people as it should be", he said.

Isnur also said he deplores the appeal submitted by Burhanuddin with the PTTUN in response to this problem which prioritises the formal aspects rather than the substance of the law.

"Me and our legal team regret that the Attorney General did not focus on substantial issues and apologies for his erroneous views. But instead pressed on, wasted time, energy, to fight against his own people, to fight the victims who are seeking justice", said Isnur.

Isnur explained that they had actually urged the Attorney General to withdraw the appeal with the PTTUN and accept the Jakarta PTUN's ruling.

"But if they still continue to play around in the formal arena, yes, then we will confront them", he said.

The panel of judges at the PTTUN decided to annul a Jakarta PTUN ruling which had earlier found in favour of a suit by the families of the Semanggi I and II tragedies against a statement by the Burhanuddin during a House of Representatives (DPR) Commission III working meeting on January 16 last year that the Semanggi tragedies were not a gross human rights violation. The PTTUN decision was made after an appeal by Burhanuddin.

On November 4, 2020 the panel of judges at the Jakarta PTUN declared that Burhanuddin had broken the law by making the statement during the DPR working meeting.

The judges ordered Burhanuddin to issue a statement on the Semanggi I and II cases in accordance with the actual facts at the next Commission III meeting. In addition to this, the judges ordered the defendant to pay court costs amounting to 285,000 rupiah.

The basis for the PTTUN judges' decision to annul the Jakarta PTUN ruling was because it was deemed not to have the authority to rule on the suit submitted by the families of the victims of the Semanggi tragedies. This was because the lawyers representing the plaintiffs had not yet submitted an administrative appeal.

The panel of judges ruled that an open letter sent by the plaintiffs by the Solidarity Network for the Families of Victims (JSKK) to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was not an administrative appeal.


The Semanggi I and II cases involved the fatal shooting of dozens of student demonstrators in Jakarta in November 1998 and September 1999 respectively.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Keluarga Korban Tragedi Semanggi Akan Ajukan Kasasi atas Putusan PTTUN yang Kabulkan Banding Jaksa Agung".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2021/03/10/18042241/keluarga-korban-tragedi-semanggi-akan-ajukan-kasasi-atas-putusan-pttun-yang