Jokowi's statement on past abuses lies and gimmicks ahead of elections: Activist

Source – January 13, 2023
Widodo (centre) giving statement after receiving PPHAM report – January 11, 2023 (Istimewa)

Dian Erika Nugraheny, Jakarta – Human rights activists have cast doubts on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's pledge to settle 12 cases of gross human rights violations acknowledged by the government through legal or judicial channels.

Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) Chairperson Julius Ibrani believes that the statement conveyed by Widodo at the Presidential Palace complex in Jakarta on Wednesday January 11 is just a political pledge in the lead up to the 2024 legislative and presidential elections.

"If we reflect on Jokowi's statement, there were two key words. He acknowledged, regretted. What emerged were these two words, but many others were missing", said Ibrani when contacted by on Thursday January 12.

Ibrani said that Widodo's speech failed to address the issues of exactly what gross human rights violations occurred, the perpetrators and the number of victims.

In addition to this, said Ibrani, Widodo also did not say what would be done by the state for the victims and their families who survived these incidents.

"All of this was missing from Jokowi's statement. So from these two key words Jokowi again showed his original face, as he has done since 2014, namely it was just more lies and gimmicks ahead of the elections, a political year" said Ibrani.

Ibrani also said that civil society groups and human rights activists have discovered that the government did not in fact involve the victims in drafting or formulating Presidential Decree (Keppres) Number 17/2022 on a Team for the Non-Judicial Resolution of Past Gross Human Rights Violations (PPHAM).

"There is absolutely no perspective of the victims. The perspective is the perspective of the authorities. In the end we predict that later there will be fictitious trials the aim of which is to wash away the sins", said Ibrani.

"Later all that left to be said will be, 'they've been tried but actually the evidence wasn't enough. Actually the construction [of the prosecution] wasn't strong'. Yet it was in fact them who put the evidence together. They also weakened the construction", continued Ibrani.

Yet, according to Ibrani, the government actually could and does have the authority to reopen investigations into the cases. And according to Ibrani, civil society groups even have the evidence and indicators related to many of these gross human rights violations.

"We already understand these are just tricks. Far from justice for the victims. Far from revealing the truth, let alone adjudicating or trying the perpetrators. Let alone reforming the perpetrator's institutions", explained Ibrani.

As reported earlier, President Widodo acknowledged that gross human rights violations had occurred in Indonesia in the past.

"With a clear mind and earnest heart, I as Indonesia's head of state admit that gross human rights violations did happen in the past", said Widodo after reading out the PPHAM's report at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday.

The president also claimed that he deeply regretted these violations. The head of state then cited 12 past gross human rights violations.

1. The 1965-1966 mass killings
2. The Mysterious Shootings (petrus) in 1982-1985
3. The Talangsari incident in Lampung, 1989
4. The Geudong House and Sattis Post incidents in Aceh, 1989
5. The forced disappearances of activists in 1997-1998
6. The May 1998 riots in Jakarta
7. The Trisakti and Semanggi I-II incidents in 1998-1999
8. The murder of shamans in 1998-1999
9. The Simpang KKA incident in Aceh, 1999
10. The Wasior incident in Papua, 2001-2002
11. The Wamena incident in Papua, 2003
12. The Jambo Keupok incident in Aceh, 2003

"I have deep sympathy and empathy for the victims and victims' families. Therefore, first of all, the government and I are trying to restore the victims' rights in a fair and wise manner without negating a judicial settlement", he said.

"And second, myself and the government will truly endeavor to ensure that gross human rights violations do not occur again in Indonesia in the future", he reiterated.

In addition to this, Widodo also asked Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD to supervise concrete efforts by the government to properly implement these two pledges.

"Hopefully this effort will be a meaningful step for healing the mutual injuries of the children of the nation in order to strengthen our national harmony in the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia", said Widodo.

Mahfud also said that Law Number 26/2000 on Human Rights Courts regulates that gross human rights violations that occurred before 2000 shall be settled though ad hoc human rights courts on the agreement of the House of Representatives (DPR).

Meanwhile gross human rights violations that occurred after 2000 will be tried through ordinary human rights courts.

The evidence of this, said Mahfud, is that the government has already brought four cases of gross human rights violations that occurred after 2000 to court, but the perpetrators were freed.

"All of the suspects were released because there wasn't enough evidence to say it was a gross human rights violations. That it was a crime, yes, but not a gross human rights violations, because they're different", he said.

"If there's a crime all of them can be prosecuted by law but there's actually not enough evidence to declare them gross human rights violations", Mahfud reiterated.

Separately, Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said that settling gross human rights violations judicially depends upon the existing evidence.

"Yes, that's for later, it depends on the data, the existing evidence", said Laoly at the Presidential Palace complex on Thursday. He added that in the context of gross human rights violations there are matter that cannot be pursued for the sake of justice (pro-yustisia).

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Janji Jokowi soal 12 Pelanggaran HAM Berat Dinilai Masih Banyak Kelemahan".]