Victims of 1965 mass killings want Jokowi to follow Dutch example and apologise

CNN Indonesia – February 20, 2022
YPKP 65 Chairperson Bedjo Untung speaking to reporters – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – One of the victims of gross human rights violations during the 1965 tragedy, Bedjo Untung, says he appreciates that the Dutch government has apologised to Indonesia for violence committed during the war of independence in 1945-1949.

He also suggested to the Indonesian government under the leadership of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo that it do the same. The Indonesian government, said Untung, must apologies to victims of past gross human rights violations.

"This is a heavy blow or insinuation against the Indonesian government who should also do the same, namely apologise to the victims of gross human rights violations, especially the victims of 1965", Untung told CNN Indonesia by phone on Friday February 18.

The chairperson of the Institute for the Study of the 1965-1966 Massacres (YPKP 65) said that the victims of the 1965 tragedy are old, in poor health and several have already died. According to Untung, an apology would be a consolation for these victims who are still alive.

Untung said that an apology would be an initial step in resolving past violations. Following an apology, fulfilling the victims' rights, such as restoring their good names, rehabilitation, compensation and reparation must still be carried out.

"The name Jokowi will be harum [fragrant, aromatic, sweet smelling] if in his second term in office he is able to resolve the problem of gross human rights violations", he said.

Untung related how they have repeatedly urged the Widodo government to make an apology or, at the very least, he said, the government could express regret over past rights violations.

"If he [Widodo] is unwilling to apologise, it would be enough to express regret. A statement of regret that mass killings occurred in 1965 which involved millions of victims", he said.

According to Untung, a statement of regret shows indirectly that Widodo acknowledges that crimes against humanity occurred in 1965, crimes which according to Untung involved state actors.

And it was not just Indonesian state actors that were involved. In international documents it cites foreign countries as also being involved in the mass killings in 1965, including Britain, Germany and the US intelligence agency the CIA.

"What is the Indonesian government still lacking? I am urging the Jokowi government to immediately fulfill its pledges, at the very least by the end of this administration it must be resolved", he said.

Untung suspects that the obstacle preventing President Widodo from resolving cases of past rights violations is because there are still many people from former president Suharto's New Order regime in the inner circles of power. According to Untung, however, Widodo is still obliged to resolve them.

"This is the mandate of the law and Jokowi's [own] pledge that he would resolve cases of gross human rights violations in a dignified and just manner", he said.

Earlier, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologised for the actions of his country during the Dutch military aggression following Indonesia's declaration of independence in 1945.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima have already made an apology in 2020 for similar incidents, namely the excesses committed by the Dutch colonial government between 1945 and 1949. (yla/bac)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Korban HAM 1965 Sindir Jokowi soal Belanda Minta Maaf: Pukulan Keras".]