‘Kamisan’ protesters demand judicial resolution of past abuses

Victims, families of victims and activists have long campaigned for justice for the victims of the country's dark events, but their demands have fallen on the deaf ears of successive governments.

Nur Janti

Nur Janti

The Jakarta Post


Activists of the Solidarity Network of Victims for Justice attend the 574th Kamisan, a weekly silent protest, in front of the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Feb 14, 2019.(The Jakarta Post/Dhoni Setiawan)

January 20, 2023

JAKARTA – Activists, victims and families of victims of past human rights violations gathered in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday for the 16th year of the Kamisan (Thursday) silent protest, demanding the government resolve past atrocities through the judicial process and not merely through nonjudicial settlements.

About 100 people took part in the rally, the 760th time the Kamisan was held since 2007. Among them were Bedjo Untung, a victim of the 1965 communist purge and chairman of the 1965 Murder Victim’s Research Foundation (YPKP 65); Maria Catarina Sumarsih, whose son Benardus Realino Norma was shot dead in the Semanggi I tragedy; and some families of victims of the 1998 riots. Constitutional law expert Bivitri Susanti from the Jakarta-based Jentera School of Law and Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid were also in attendance.

Last week, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said he acknowledged that 12 incidents amounting to gross human rights violations had taken place in the period between 1965 and 2003 prior to his tenure as leader, and expressed his regret. He said the government was trying to “rehabilitate the victims’ rights” without negating a judicial resolution.

Read also: Government prepares reparations for victims as Jokowi regrets past atrocities

Thursday’s protest demanded the government instruct the Attorney General’s Office to create an ad-hoc investigation team to follow up on the National Commission on Human Rights’ (Komnas HAM) findings on gross past human rights violations in the country. They urged the government to ensure the victims and their families get their right to truth, justice and rehabilitation.

“If Jokowi wants to be known as a president who was brave enough to honestly resolve past atrocities, just bring the shootings that killed students in the Semanggi I, Semanggi II and the Trisakti tragedies to a rights tribunal,” Sumarsih said.

She said that Jokowi had betrayed his promises to resolve past abuse cases during his election campaign, as most of the cases had yet to be brought to justice.

[RA:;President Jokowi to start apology tour for past atrocities::https://www.thejakartapost.com/indonesia/2023/01/16/president-jokowi-to-start-apology-tour-for-past-atrocities.html]

Bivitri, too, was unconvinced that Jokowi could resolve all past atrocities in his last two years in office, saying his recent expression of regret and promise to provide a nonjudicial settlement were not enough.

Victims, families of victims and activists have long campaigned for justice for the victims of the country’s dark events but their demands have fallen on the deaf ears of successive governments.

Jokowi’s recent plan to resolve past rights atrocities through nonjudicial settlement followed the recommendations of a nonjudicial resolution team led by veteran diplomat and human rights activist Makarim Wibisono.

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