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Activists want Indonesia to prosecute Myanmar junta

UCA News - September 8, 2022

A group of rights activists and organizations has petitioned Indonesia's Constitutional Court to amend a law to allow the prosecution of the Myanmar junta for gross human rights violations.

They requested that one of the articles of a 2020 Law on the country's Human Rights Court be revised so that it not only allows the prosecution of Indonesian citizens who commit gross human rights violations outside Indonesia, but also citizens of other countries.

The petitioners under the umbrella of the Universality of Human Rights Team group include Marzuki Darusman, a former attorney-general who served as chair of an independent fact-finding mission on Myanmar under the UN's Human Rights Council in 2017 and the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea in 2010.

The petition is also supported by the legal aid arm of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second-largest moderate Muslim organization, the Legal Aid Institute for the Press and the Alliance of Independent Journalists.

According to the group's attorney, Feri Amsari, the current provisions "severely limit the jurisdiction of national courts in exercising universal jurisdiction over the most serious crimes under international law."

This also contradicts the constitution under which "everyone has the right to recognition, guarantees, protection and fair legal certainty and equal treatment before the law."

He said the petition was in response to human rights violations by the Myanmar junta in recent years, including the execution of four political prisoners in July which sparked global outrage.

"There is an extraordinary case in Myanmar, where 2,000 people have been killed, 15,000 people are missing or disappeared, 1.2 million people need humanitarian assistance and ASEAN countries are silent," he told reporters.

He said Indonesia holds a strategic position because Jakarta is the capital of the bloc, ASEAN leaders go back and forth to Jakarta, including the perpetrators of gross human rights violations.

"So, if this petition is granted, they cannot haphazardly enter Jakarta because it is not impossible that they will be prosecuted," said Amsari, a lecturer at Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra.

"For the sake of respect for the principle of universality, for the protection of Myanmar citizens who are also human beings, for the sake of ASEAN brotherhood, for the protection of democracy, we submit this petition," he added.

Sasmito Madrim, chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, said they could not just stand by watching activists, including journalists, being executed by the Myanmar junta.

"The task of journalists themselves is included in the task and work of the human rights struggle by ensuring that information on human rights violations in Myanmar can be conveyed clearly and transparently to the world community," he said.

"We hope that through this legal effort, human rights criminals in Myanmar in particular and in other countries across the world can be tried in Indonesia," he said.

Maria Catharina Sumarsih, a Catholic human rights activist whose son was shot during 1998 riots that led to the collapse of the authoritarian regime of the late dictator Suharto, said she supports the group's move.

"I hope that their move can also go hand in hand with concrete steps by the Indonesian government to prosecute gross human rights violation cases here that have not yet been resolved," she told UCA News.

"Indonesia will certainly have more authority to talk about human rights if cases at home are also prioritized," she added.

A number of gross human rights violation cases have yet to be resolved, including the massacre of alleged communist sympathizers in 1965-66, the enforced disappearance of activists and the shooting of students during the 1998 riots, as well as the shooting of Papuan students in 2014.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/activists-want-indonesia-to-prosecute-myanmar-junta/9869