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Indonesia probes Suharto-era human rights abuses

Straits Times - August 22, 2022

Jakarta (Bloomberg) – Indonesia is set to investigate 13 cases of unresolved human rights violations from the Suharto era and possibly even earlier, marking an attempt by President Joko Widodo to fulfil a pledge to provide justice and accountability to the victims.

It is the first time that the government has zeroed in on the number of violations, which was revealed in a statement on Monday (Aug 22) issued by the President's office.

However, no details were provided on those cases, with nine of them having taken place before the year 2000.

This comes after the country's leader issued a presidential decree to form a committee looking at the non-judicial settlement of past gross human rights violations.

No specifics were given on who the committee members are. The move for reconciliation marks a shift in the government's stance, where ministers previously responded to calls for justice by telling the people to stop bringing up the past.

The decree attempts to hasten efforts to resolve past cases of human rights abuse, which had largely taken place during former president Suharto's over 31-year dictatorship.

It is also to make good of a pledge Mr Widodo made as part of his election campaign dating back to when he was first elected in 2014.

Indonesia has been criticised for failing to provide justice to victims involved in several instances of human rights abuses.

These include Indonesia's military violence in East Timor when it fought for independence.

Other examples are the abduction of democratic activists protesting against Mr Suharto's regime before he resigned in 1998 following widespread public backlash, the anti-communist killings in the 1960s, and the armed forces' violence against indigenous people from restive Papua province.

"If the judicial mechanism is oriented towards retributive justice, the non-judicial mechanism is oriented towards victim recovery," said an official in the President's Chief of Staff office.

"Non-judicial mechanisms provide a great opportunity for victims to be heard, empowered, glorified and their dignity restored."

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesia-probes-suharto-era-human-rights-abuse