The mayor of Palu, Mastura Rusdi’s apology to the victims of the mass murder of 1965-66, has surprised many people. His courage to side with the victims is a very significant step. The mayor is determined to change the mindset of the society, especially in the city of Palu in order to raise human rights’ awareness. The city provides free medical care for the victims and scholarships or free education to the victims’ children and grandchildren.

Does not stop with apology

The mayor of Palu, H Rusdi Mastura has humbly apologized to the victims of mass murder that occurred in 1965-1966 in the city of Palu, Central Sulawesi. This apology, was expressed in front of hundreds of families of the victims during a seminar on the “Research and Verification of the 1965/1966 Victims” held on Tuesday (19/5) in the mayoral’s auditorium in Palu.

Mayor Rusdi has repeatedly conveyed his apology in various occasions such as human rights meetings as well as at different regional and national events. He expressed the apology both on his personal account as well as on behalf of the Palu’s government, in front of hundreds of families of victims of the mass murder. Mayor Rusdi told the people that as a teenager he was an active member of the boys scout and has witnessed the army arrested many people allegedly involved in the September 30 Movement or the alleged communist coup.

The mayor expressed his strong hopes that this dark history is not repeated. He is determined to change the society’s paradigm, especially in the city of Palu, by increasing human rights awareness. According to him, an apology to the victims of gross human rights violations is one of the efforts to provide awareness about human rights to the public.
He acknowledged that his apology is not enough to resolve the problem. He said he will establish a rehabilitation and reconciliation program for the victims. The mayor then invites all parties to assist the government in Palu to support the 1965 victims through various initiatives conducted by, for example, the Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres), as well as by human rights organizations such as the Solidarity of Human Rights Violation Victims (SKP HAM) of Central Sulawesi and the Commission for the Dissappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS). The mayor hopes that Palu will become a human rights-conscious city.

“I want people to realize the importance of human rights,” said the mayor of Palu in front of a New York Times reporter. The mayor’s conscious decision to apologize is not without problem as they are other groups who opposed his decision to apologize. The mayor though said he is not too worried about the group. According to him, the most important thing that needs to be done is to fulfill the rights of the victims. Mayor Rusdi promised to provide free health care for the victims of pass gross human rights violations. He also promised to give scholarships or free education to their children.

Data of the victims

The findings from the research and verification of the 1965/1966 victims of violations of Human Rights (HAM) in Palu uncovered 768 names of the victims who originated from 8 districts in Palu. This data was also shared by the Regional Development Planning Board (Bappeda) in Palu.

The human rights violation’s report was the result of a research and verification initiative conducted by a research team consisted of Moh. Syafari Firdaus, M. Isnaeni Muhidin, Ihsan, and Iwan Lapasere. The research was also aided by two contributors, Nurlaela Lamasitudju (SKP-HAM Sulawesi) and Jefriyanto (SKP-HAM Sulawesi) and supported by critical reviews from Tahmidi Lasahido (Sociologist), Wilman Lumangino (Historian), Kamala Chandrakirana (KKPK) and Dodi Yuniar ( AJAR).

The executive summary of the report discussed during the Research and Verification event in Palu revealed that the mass killings were started by the 30 September 1965 Movement in Jakarta which spread widely throughout Indonesia, including to Palu.

A wave of protests and demonstrations calling for the dissolution and the “cleansing” of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and its elements have also occured in Palu. The protests and demonstrations took place from October 1965 until February 1966, which was followed by the arrest, detention, and imprisonment of party members, members of organizations affiliated with the PKI, as well as those who are considered as sympathizers.

4 wave of arrests

There are four waves of arrests and detentions that occurred in Palu City and surrounding areas, namely the arrest and detention of the first wave occurred in late 1965. The target of this first wave of arrests and detentions were the leaders of the PKI and the leadership of its affiliated organizations.

The second wave occurred in 1966 and 1967. The arrest and detention of the second wave still targeted the members of the PKI and its affiliated organizations. The third wave of arrests and detentions occurred three years later, in 1969 until 1970. This time, the target was a military unit who were members of Battalion 711 Raksatama, Palu, on charges that they were part of the communist party (PKI). Besides this, there were no clear reason revealed for the arrest and detention of the members of the military. Some of the military personnel have actually just returned from their duty serving in the “operations liberation of West Irian”.

The fourth wave of arrests and detentions occurred in 1975, based on the issue of “the Movement of PKI New Style” that emerged in Central Sulawesi. The arrest and detention of alleged “PKI New Style” is no longer targeting PKI members or activists of the supporting social organizations. Instead, they arrested and detained the native sons of the region, who were mostly activists from PNI (Indonesian National Party). They were arrested and then imprisoned in Palu and Manado.

16 Forms of human rights violations

They were 16 forms of the gross human rights violations in Palu that occurred throughout the period of 1965/1966 during the PKI crackdown known as the September 30 Movement. This was revealed from findings of the research and verification of the victims of human rights violations seminar held in the auditorium of the Mayor’s Office of Palu, Tuesday (19/05/2015).

The research that was conducted by a team of four people, namely, Moh. Syafari Firdaus, M. Isnaeni Muhidin, Iksam and Iwan Lapasere revealed the details of all the 16 forms of human rights violations, namely; forced labor; compulsory reporting; torture; arbitrary arrest; arbitrary detention; conviscation and termination of livelihood; cruel and inhuman behavior; extortion; theft / looting / robbery of belongings; unfair trials; negligence resulting in death; disappearances; sexual violence; the burning and destruction of homes and possessions; business execution; and rape.

Arrest, detention, and arbitrary imprisonment are the type of violations that were most commonly found. Arrest, detention, and imprisonment were done without clear justifications. The only clear reason given was because, unlike in Java, Palu had not started the land reform program.

13 People to court

Of the approximately 768 names verified as victims of political prisoners in Palu, only about 13 people were processed in court. They were the people who were catagorized as “Prisoners Group A”, which is seen as leaders and officials PKI in Central Sulawesi. The trial process itself took place in 1975, approximately 10 years after they were imprissoned. Those on trial were all convicted and received prison sentences of between 14 to 20 years.

The study was quite representative, as in addition to relying on social methodology, it has received comments from four critical readers, namely Tahmidi Lasahido (Sociologist), Wilman Lumangino (Historian), Kamala Chandrakirana (KKPK), and Dodi Yuniar (AJAR). Two civil society representatives also served as contributors to the research, Nurlaela Lamasitudju (SKP-HAM Sulawesi) and Jefriyanto (SKP-HAM Sulawesi).

The research involved enumerators, namely Asman Yodjodolo, Asriana, Azwa, r Darusman, Smith, Eman, Fildayani, Gagarisman, Iman, Korta Desmayanto, Lekman, Netty Kalengkongan, Niki Priatmi, Nurdian, Pangestu Murwandani, Ulfah, Umm Qalsum, Yansen Kundimang Yufardin. (Afd)

Source: Newspaper Guidelines Palu – Sulawesi