Welcome statement by Nursyahbani Katjasungkana,
General coordinator IPT 1965
On the occasion of the opening of the International People’s Tribunal on 1965 Crimes against Humanity in Indonesia The Hague, November 10 – 13 2015.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This year it is 50 years ago that the darkest period in post colonial Indonesian history began: the mass killings of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens, large scale imprisonment under inhuman conditions, torture, slave labour, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, and other forms of persecution. Thousands of the nation’s most promising intellectual youth became exiles. The Indonesian Communist Party was destroyed. The military dictatorship under General later President Suharto sharply curtailed the human rights of Indonesian citizens. To this day impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity reigns and the victims are not rehabilitated but instead seen as guilty for the suffering they and their family members experienced.
Not only impunity, but persecution itself continues. Militias are allowed or stimulated to break up meetings of victims as in Yogyakarta, Bukittinggi and Solo; a Swedish national and Indonesian exile and member of our IPT network was deported after visiting the mass grave where his father was buried. A student journal dedicated to the events of 1965 in Salatiga was withdrawn and burned. There is continued harassment of human rights defenders and two weeks ago the launches of books, an exhibition and a film showing on this period scheduled at the Ubud Writers’ and Readers’ Festival had to be cancelled as the organizers were threatened that they might lose the permit for the entire event. Indonesian students volunteering for this Tribunal were warned that they might lose their scholarships. Thus the rights constitutionally guaranteed to Indonesian citizens, of free speech, of association, are not upheld.
The propaganda campaign that incited the army and its associated militias to commit these crimes against humanity has still not been officially debunked. The Communist Party is still portrayed as anti-religious, intent on breaking up the nation, and as stimulating sexual perversions. Even human rights defenders these days are accused of being new-style communists. History books repeat the lies produced since the murder of the generals on October 1 1965. The extent of the mass murders is not known, the state has not taken any responsibility for the mass crimes committed under its jurisdiction. Nor have other states who were aware of the large scale killings at the time but did nothing to stop them, indeed provided the army with supplies they needed to carry out their criminal duties, accepted their responsibility.
National efforts to engage in a process of truth finding prior to reconciliation so far have failed. The impressive 2012 report of the National Human Rights Commission in six regions which should have formed the basis of a comprehensive programme of truth finding, justice and reconciliation has not led to a follow up from the National Attorney’s office. The full report is still not released, its contents hidden from public scrutiny.
To this day the Indonesian people are denied the right to truth, to justice, to rehabilitation and the guarantee of non-recurrence. The Indonesian youth is brought up with lies and in ignorance. The stigma of their grandparents and parents is carried over into the third generation. It is time to break down the vicious cycle of denial, distortion, taboo and secrecy surrounding the events of 1965. Yet lies will always be disclosed in history. The truth cannot remain hidden.
Therefore direct victims of the mass crimes against humanity committed in Indonesia after October 1 1965, who are living both within Indonesia and abroad, and their family members, supported by human rights lawyers, activists, artists, journalists and researchers who have long worked on this period, have come together to bring these crimes against humanity to the international level. We have set up the Foundation IPT 1965 to organize the International People’s Tribunal on 1965 Crimes against Humanity in Indonesia. We have collected material that we bring before this Tribunal, to consider without fear or favour.
In this Tribunal the victims will speak out. They have been silenced and abjected till now. The material brought before the Tribunal will provide a public record of the mass killings and other crimes against humanity committed after October 1 1965. The Tribunal will help open up a space for public debate on the history of Indonesia, on its postcolonial ambitions, on its efforts to build social justice, on its attempts to establish the rule of law. The Tribunal is a moral instrument to help break through the cycle of violence in Indonesia. We, the people who establish this Tribunal say clearly: Never Again!
We affirm the uncompromising hope that justice is possible in Indonesia and that human rights and rule of law are recognized and respected.
Our aim is to stimulate a process of healing. To help Indonesia realize its own stated aims and potential to be a country in which the coming generations will live peaceful and secure lives. Therefore the truth must be established. The wounds in Indonesian society are too deep. The patterns of violence and repression are firmly ingrained in the security apparatus and condoned by interested powerful political and socio-economic groups . As long as Indonesia’s history is distorted in people’s minds and in its educational system, the country cannot learn from its past mistakes and there is no guarantee the violations may not re-occur.
As General Coordinator of the Foundation IPT 1965 set up in 2014 I wish to thank all the people who have worked and still work so hard to make the Tribunal whose hearings start today, happen.
In the first place our panel of judges:
Mireille Fanon- Mendès-France
Todung Mulya Lubis (Chief prosecutor)
Uli Parulian Sihombing
Our Organizing Committee
Helene van Klinken, coordinator volunteers, secretariat
Annet van Offenbeek, member OC, security
Lea Pamungkas, coordinator media team Netherlands
Ratna Saptari member OC, member editor research report
Dolorosa Sinaga, media and arts team Jakarta
Sri Tunruang, treasurer
Artien Utrecht, member OC
Sri Lestari Wahyaningrum, co-coordinator Indonesia team, editor research report
Saskia Wieringa, chair Foundation IPT, coordinator research report
Our Advisory Board
Nico Schulte Nordholt
Frederiek de Vlaming
Abram de Swaan
A special thanks to the witnesses and the expert witnesses whose testimonies support the indictment. It is their courage to testify in the Tribunal that will bring the crimes against humanity committed to light.
As well as the members of our media team and the many other volunteers.
We also thank the many people who have contributed to our crowd funding campaign and our other funders.
This Tribunal is dedicated in the first place to the victims and their family members, including those who were murdered or disappeared. As well as to the future generations in the hope they will be better able to assess honestly the past of their country. Justice for the victims means justice for the future of Indonesia.