Jakarta – Human rights activists have urged the government to learn from the Dutch king by, among other measures, admitting past human rights violations, apologizing to the families of victims and working to resolve cases through judicial and nonjudicial measures.
Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) deputy director Wahyudi Djafar said the Netherlands' apology to Indonesia for its excessive violence in the past could be a lesson and motivation for the government to do the same for victims of past human rights violations and their families in this country.
Indonesia, he went on to say, should follow the lead of other countries in apologizing for past human rights violations, including Australia, Belgium, Japan, Germany, South Africa and the United States.
"We also urge the government to provide economic assistance and trauma healing for people affected by such violations," Wahyudi said in a statement on Wednesday.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander conveyed the apology during his four-day visit to Indonesia with Queen Maxima, saying he expressed "regret and apologies for the excessive violence on the part of the Dutch in [the early years of Indonesian independence]."
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo responded to the statement by saying that past events, even if they were hurtful, could be lessons for strengthening mutual respect among others in the future.
Wahyudi, however, deemed the President's statement ironic, given that the government had not apologized for past human rights violations allegedly committed by Indonesian armed forces or caused by the government's discriminatory policies.
"We saw in an interview with the BBC in February when the President explicitly said that enacting human rights values was not his priority at the moment. We lament that statement since many victims or families affected by gross human rights violations have been ignored by the government," said Wahyudi.
He went on to say that the United Nations Convention against Torture, which had been ratified by Indonesia in 1998, stipulated that the government was required to apologize to victims of past gross human rights violations.
A 1983 UN resolution on the responsibility of states for wrongdoing also called on governments to express regret and apologize for human rights violations.
"The apologies should be oriented toward victims and acknowledgement that gender discrimination also occurred during those violent acts," Wahyudi added.
According to data from the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, at least 11 gross human rights violations await resolution, including the 1989 massacre in Talangsari, Lampung, and the shooting in Wamena, Papua, in 2003. (glh)