Indonesia 1965 by Frank Palmos


The International People’s Tribunal on the 1965 Crimes against Humanity (IPT 1965) plans to recommend to the UN that the Indonesian government be considered responsible for acts of genocide during the 1965 communist purge in an attempt to press the current government into resolving the issue.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo made the resolution of past human rights abuse cases one of his campaign promises but so far he has made no effort to act on his promises.

Following the non-binding verdict reached by the IPT 1965, then coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan said Indonesia had its own legal system and no external party could dictate the way the nation solved its problems.

IPT 1965 coordinator Nursyahbani Katjasungkana said her team was preparing to take its verdict to the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“We have met many officials to present our findings. But no one takes any action. This shows that the government is unable and unwilling to resolve the prolonged injustice surrounding this crime against humanity,” Nursyahbani said. “We will present our consolidated data before the international human rights meeting. It is time to solve this case once and for all.”

The Indonesian government is scheduled to give a presentation on the actions it is taking to protect and promote human rights at home during a UPR session in April and May next year. As a member of the UN, Indonesia will have to sit through a review during the quadrennial meeting.

Nursyahbani said the IPT 1965 would present its findings during that session in order to counter reports prepared by the government, which will likely exclude details on the violence that erupted in 1965.

International law expert Jaka Triyana believes the UPR is the right mechanism through which rights groups can put political pressure on governments that lack the commitment to solve past human rights abuse cases.

“We need to keep doing this kind of advocacy work so that it will continue to resonate with people,” he said.

The IPT 1965 also plans to make its case to the OHCHR in an effort to build an international movement that will force the Indonesian government to resolve the case.

Nursyahbani said the IPT 1965 had been emboldened in their efforts after meeting with members of the Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres), who told them bluntly that the President would focus his attention on the economy and infrastructure.

The group was dealt another setback following Jokowi’s decision to name former Indonesian Military commander Wiranto as coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister.

Wiranto has declined to meet with a group known as YPKP 65, a group of survivors from the 1965 communist purge.

As a last resort, Nursyahbani said the IPT 1965 would take the case to the UN Security Council (UNSC).

“It is part of the plan. But it may take a long while to do this because in order to eventually see them, the UNSC must deem that the purge was an extraordinary crime. We need to gather political support from other countries,” Nursyahbani said.

She said a country need not be a member of the UNSC to call for an extraordinary court. However, membership of the UNSC, something which Indonesia is currently seeking, would help her cause.