INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL 1965
Chief Prosecutor Todung Mulya Lubis
Let me begin my opening statement by asking one simple question: Why are we here? It is indeed very important to answer this question because only by honestly answering the said question we would then know what to expect, what to achieve and how to overcome any and all possible challenges that lie in front of us. I come all the way from Jakarta together with most of the prosecutorial team. Most witnesses and experts come from various cities in Indonesia. The honorable judges too come from various countries. And the organizers mostly come from Jakarta and have a secretariat in Holland. We have spent countless hours preparing ourselves for this tribunal and I believe you have also spent a great deal of hours going through all materials and initial submissions. Clearly, we will be spending days and perhaps months digesting and examining all the submissions, statements and evidence. I cannot imagine how much energy and emotions will be needed to finally finish the work, and I am pretty sure that it is not going to be easy at all. We will have to come to terms with ourselves.
50 years ago, on September 30, in the middle of night, atrocities began. A number of military generals were killed and transported to Lubang Buaya (Crocodile Hole) in the eastern part of Jakarta where an air force base was located. Allegedly, the killings of those military generals were done by members of the Partai Komunis Indonesia. It has been described further as an attempted coup d’état to overthrow the government of President Soekarno. Interestingly, the killing of those military generals have been used as a justification for going after the Partai Komunis Indonesia which was at that time considered the largest and most militant party. Partai Komunis Indonesia has been accused as the party behind the failed coup, and that the coup must be condemned. There has been no one single argument that can be used to justify the coup especially since the party behind it is allegedly also the party behind the violent movement against the government in late 1940s or what is known as the Madiun Affair. Partai Komunis Indonesia, therefore, as a result was declared as an enemy of the people, enemy of the nation, and of course must be crushed. Partai Komunis Indonesia, needless to say, was regarded as a traitor of the nation. Once someone is a traitor, that person will remain a traitor. It is under this kind of environment and social psychology that a massive killing of people associated with the Partai Komunis Indonesia was started, a killing that according to various sources resulted in the death of at least 500.000 people. Amnesty International came up with a higher number, namely close to 1.000.000 people. Honestly, no one knows how many people have been brutally and inhumanely killed by the military and militias from various social organizations. It is perhaps one of the historical and human tragedies that needs to be investigated further.
1965 is not only about mass killings of those regarded as communists or sympathizers of the Partai Komunis Indonesia. No one can deny that countless innocent people who were totally unrelated to the Partai Komunis Indonesia were likewise tragically killed. They may have been friends, relatives and spouses and children who had nothing to do with the Partai Komunis Indonesia. They were killed simply because of their association with persons who happened to be members or sympathizers of the Partai Komunis Indonesia, they were guilty by association. The military and militias organizations that were involved in the mass killings unconstitutionally took the law into their hands and rendered the verdict that those directly and indirectly related to the Partai Komunis Indonesia had to be killed. There had never been any due process of law, there had never been any recognition of the presumption of innocence, and the mere fact that those people were associated with the Partai Komunis Indonesia has been used to condemn them as communists and therefore as deserving to be killed. No legal process was needed. Can you imagine the depth of darkness? That was the darkest year of Indonesia’s history, rule of Law, human rights and human civilization. After World War II, after Hitler and the Nazis, the mass killings in aftermath of 1965 in Indonesia must have been one of the worst atrocity in our human history.
1965 tells more than mass killings. 1965 also tells of enslavement, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearances, persecution through propaganda, and complicity of foreign countries notably the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Australia. No word can explain the magnitude of sufferings experienced in bodies and minds of people, and that suffering is continuing. 50 years is not a short time by any means and yet, the wounds and pain stayed in the blood of the people, the relatives and children, and the grandchildren, not to mention the whole nation. The truth has to be told, and there is no condition for that. It is an absolute necessity that the truth is told in its entirety, honestly and sincerely. The wounds and pain will never be healed without truth telling. History will not be completed without truth being unraveled. History cannot possibly be whitewashed. The burden is upon our shoulders. We will carry the burden if we fail to unravel the truth. Because only by knowing the truth we can start healing the wounds and the pain. Needless to say that it is a prerequisite that truth be told before we can proceed to find justice, to reconcile and to forgive. Of course, no one will be able to forget the worst human tragedy that they faced, but it is my belief that people will be able to come to terms, to reconcile with the past.
As mentioned earlier there are 9 counts which are part of Crimes Against Humanity committed by the state of Indonesia particularly the military and state apparatus in concert with certain elements of social organizations. Moreover, it can also be stated that the state of Indonesia violated its inherent obligations as stipulated in customary international law. Each count will be further described with evidences supported by factual witnesses and experts if necessary. We will present them one by one when each respective count is submitted to the honorable judges in due time. It is our sincere hope that the honorable judges will have relatively complete description and evidence in order to fully understand about the so called Crimes Against Humanity committed by the state of Indonesia since 1965. Your honor, the crimes have not stopped. Some of the crimes continue, they are continuing crimes. The stigma inherently attached to all relatives, spouses and children of the alleged communists has not been lifted. The stigma has degraded the dignity of the persons.
Your honors, it is our sincere hope that your honors will be able to acquire all relevant material and evidence, to examine them and to understand about the magnitude of gross and systematic violations of human rights because only by doing so then your honors will be able to understand why our Indictment charges the state of Indonesia committing Crimes Against Humanity.
Now, we may perhaps answer the question raised earlier: Why are we here? The answer is because we want to find the truth, the nation wants to find the truth. We have been waiting for more than 50 years and despite all the efforts to persuade the government to initiate a thorough investigation and legal action. Ironically, we have seen no genuine attempt by the government to resolve all the gross and systematic violation of human rights which took place since 1965. The people associated with 1965 have always been stigmatized and discriminated against. It seems that they have been treated as pariahs or outlaws. Nothing has changed even though we entered the Reformasi Era where democracy, Rule of Law and human rights seem to be more respected. Consciously and unconsciously the attitude is to forget the past, and focus more on the future. What past is past. Don’t look back, don’t open the wounds.
But the wound has never healed. It remains. It needs to be healed, and to heal it requires the truth to be told. Tirelessly all the victims together with human rights activists continue their fight to find the truth at all cost. We believe that the truth cannot be hidden all the time, one day it will come into the light. It is in this connection we highly appreciate the investigation of National Commission of Human Rights which concluded that what happened in 1965 onwards constitute crimes against humanity. There is light in the end of the tunnel, and that prompted us to also pursue truth and justice in our own way, a way that is less travelled. This is what brought us here before you, Your Honors.
We come all the way from Indonesia not without risk. As human beings we are nervous and worried. We are worried because in our beloved country the matter related to 1965 atrocities is still taboo, not subject to discussion and deliberation. The government refuses to openly discuss the matter and if there are discussions then very likely those discussions will be banned like what happened with Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali last week. Joshua Oppenheimer could not show his films, The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence, to the public. Of course this is not to say that no one attempted to hold the discussions and show the films, however, they will be confronted with police and possibly also groups who called themselves as ‘anti-communist’ and also the Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam). The bans have been brutal and violent.
Your honors, we cannot contemplate what will happen to us when we return home from here. It will be very likely that we will be accused of drying our dirty linens in the open, exposing the dark sides of our nation and society, and that wetherefore will be regarded as traitors to the nation. We will not rule out the possibility of being questioned by the authorities, or even worse detained. The fact that President Joko Widodo has already refused to apologize lead us to a conclusion that the government seemingly does not want to deal with anything related to the atrocities happened in 1965 onwards. Be that as it may, I have to underline the fact that we have come to a time where no delay is justified, and truth has to be found. No matter what. Please bear in mind that most of the victims have died already, and those who are still alive are apparently already too old. Soon their time will come. Therefore, in the name of truth and justice, we must proceed with this tribunal with the hope that we will find the truth, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the end, we really hope that the government will listen, will do its utmost to have a genuine reconciliation and what follows after that. After all, humanity should be regained, wrong must be corrected, and justice must be pursued.
As I said earlier this is not a tribunal in the legal sense, and you are not the judges vested with all the power. We, the prosecutorial team, are not really prosecutors. But we are functioning and striving together to find the truth and justice. It is our hope that your courage and wisdom will take us to the harbor where we can sail back home with truth and justice in our hand.