INDONESIA: Talangsari: Effective intervention by Komnas HAM to obtain justice to the victims

You are aware that it has been 18 years this past February since over two hundred defenceless villagers were butchered allegedly by the Indonesian army in 1989. Since the atrocity human rights groups and the family members of the victims have been advocating for the establishment of a special inquiry to find out what exactly happened at Talangsari where nearly 250 members of the Warsidi sect were gunned down.

The Komnas HAM, as required by the law No.39/1999, acceded to the numerous requests by the families of the victims and the human rights defenders to conduct the investigations but unfortunately until today it has not been completed. As you know, there have been three committees of persons that were appointed by Komnas HAM to conduct their investigations. The first team was established in 2001 under the Chairmanship of Mr. Koesparmono Irsan, the second in 2003 under Mr. Hasballah M Saad’s leadership and the third in 2005 under by Mr. Enny Soeprapto. The two letters issued by Komnas HAM 0022/WATUA/II/2006 and 103/WATUA/X/2006 gave the guarantee that the investigations would be completed by the end of 2006, after which the ‘pro justitia’ inquiry could commence. The Commission also claimed that this process was necessary before the Attorney General’s Office (AG) could commence its own investigation.

However, the failure on the part of Komnas HAM to comply with its own obligations –under Law 26/2000- has resulted in the denial of justice to the victims and the families, while providing an easy excuse for the AG to evade its responsibilities. In fact it would have been the bounded responsibility of the AG either to compel Komnas HAM to abide by its obligations or conduct its own obligations since the prime responsibility for prosecutions rests with that office.

In the meantime the statements purported to have been made by the Commander of the Military Resort 043 Garuda Hitam Unit based at Lampung essentially said that the Talangari case is closed (statement reported in the editions of Solo Pos and Lumpung Pos of 16 February 2007) He is quoted as saying that “Talangsari case is closed…therefore everybody who wants to unfold the case, they will fight me”. These statements allegedly made by a senior officer, while the investigations are on by Komnas HAM confirm the general feeling in the country that despite the promises of successive democratic governments, the military still holds sway and has the upper hand in prosecutions. The same senior officials holding onto power in both the army and the Bureau of National Investigation (BIN) confirms this feeling. Such a culture of the power exercised by the military can only be altered by the intervention of the national human rights commission and the AG.  However, this seems unlikely to happen as these organisations remain unwilling to take serious measures to counter the current state of impunity.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is concerned that the current tendency to deny justice to the victims of Trisakti, Semanggi I and II and Tanjung Priok may be repeated once again. As part of the commitment given to the Indonesian people and the international community by securing a place in the Human Rights Council, it is required that the victims of such gross violations obtain redress. It is through such interventions that the credibility of the justice delivery system is guaranteed. The denial or the refusal for such intervention would only contribute to the loss of credibility, continuation of the culture of impunity and the gradual breakdown of the rule of law in the country.

We trust you will understand that the conditions in Indonesia that enhance the credibility of the justice institutions cannot be expected to improve until justice is delivered in cases of gross human rights violations and the culture of impunity is not allowed to continue, for which you’re effective and urgent interventions are a sine qua non.

Yours sincerely

Basil Fernando
Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-OL-011-2007
Countries : Indonesia,