INDONESIA: 33 Years of Talangsari 1989: Changing Policies That Remain Unfavorable to Victims and Justice

According to various data and information, in the Talangsari massacre, 130 people died, 77 people were forcibly evicted, 53 people experienced the deprivation of liberty and 46 people experienced torture.

“The process of resolving the Talangsari massacre has dragged on and the victims have waited too long for legal certainty. On the 33 years of commemoration of the Talangsari massacre, the Association of Victims and Family of Victims and Survivors of the Talangsari Massacre (PK2TL), expects that there will be legal certainty from current President Joko Widodo (Jokowi),” stated Mr. Edi Arsadad, a survivor of the Talangsari massacre.

Policies and regulations regarding reparation for victims, survivors and families of victims of gross human rights violations in Indonesia should always be highlighted because there are often indications and evidence that the content violates the principles of justice, for example by not taking sides with the victim as the main stakeholder. The Government has been caught on several occasions making regulations and activities that seemingly will resolve gross violations of human rights, however, are efforts not in accordance with the human rights standard which are universal.

In commemorating the 33 years of the Talangsari massacre which occurred on February 7, 1989, representatives of victims and families of victims of the Talangsari massacre have met and provided input to the Government institution regarding the resolution of the gross human rights violations of Talangsari 1989. There have been progress of reparation for the victims and families of victims under the policy of the Coordinator Minister of Politic, Law and Security (Menkopolhukam) as well as the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.

The Integrated Team for Handling Allegations of Gross Violations of Human Rights, is a team established by the Government, and it has announced that the Talangsari massacre is the focus area for implementing the Government version about reparation for victims and the families of victims. However, currently, the Team is almost retired. The choice makes sense after a series of controversies and mal-administration by the Ombudsman Republik of Indonesia.

In practice, the Team frequently ignored the existing regulations and public voices, in particular, the voice of victims and the families of victims of human rights abuses. In line with the Draft of the Presidential Decree regarding the Presidential Working Unit for Handling Incidents of Serious Human Rights Violations through Non-Judicial Mechanisms (UKP-PPHB), it has finally been canceled because the aim and the content are very bad and has been rejected by many parties including the victims and families of victims.

In a meeting on Monday, February 7, 2022 which was attended by Mr. Rudy Syamsir (Assistant Deputy for the Coordination of the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs) and Mr. Mualimin Abdi (Director General of Human Rights at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights), it was also clear that there had been a serious process of drafting the Law on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (KKR Bill). The existence of a truth telling Commission for gross human rights violations that have occurred in Indonesia is indeed important, but it must be carefully monitored as to what the objectives, workings and principles of the truth telling Commission that will be formed are.

According to the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) and the Association of Victims and the Families of Victims and Survivors of the Talangsari Massacre (PK2TL), there is an attempt that is not involving the voices of the victims and the public in its preparation. Even though Law No. 12 of 2011 concerning the Establishment of Legislation, in particular under Articles 88, 89 and 96 and also the Presidential Decree No. 87 of 2014 under Article 171 and 175 has stated that the dissemination of the Bill prepared by the President must be carried out by the initiating agency (in this case the Ministry of Law and Human Rights) at every stage, starting from the drafting of the Bill with the aim of providing information, and obtaining input from the public and stakeholders in particular victims.

“The Government must stop using victims as objects of socialization, the Government must be involving victims as part of stakeholders. Therefore, as a partner of the Government, victims must be invited to discuss from the beginning, the formulation of policies that have implications for victims and then at every stage,” said Tioria Pretty, KontraS Head of the Division of Monitoring Impunity.

Hearings were also held on 8 February 2022 with Mr. Taufik Basari, a Parliament Member of the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) and Mr. Nasir Djamil, a Parliament Member from the Prosperous Justice Party, both of them who are members of Commission III of the Indonesian House of Representatives for the 2019-2024 period. After hearing the aspirations and progress of the Talangsari case, both MPs stated their commitment to actively participate in encouraging the resolution of this problem.

“Indeed, there are still many parties who think that efforts to process past human rights abuses are like picking up old wounds… If we as members of the Parliament try to bring the judicial processes, don’t think that we only want to pressure those who are currently still in the circle of power, but because the victims have been waiting for justice for more than 30 years,” explained Nasir.

In addition, Mr. Taufik Basari also considered that the statement by the Coordinating Minister for Political, Law and Security Affairs, Mr. Mahfud MD which stated that past human rights abuses were now within the DPR’s area was inappropriate based on the Constitutional Court’s Decision Number. 18 of 2007.

“Therefore, the decision must come from the Government. The Government must make a statement for legal efforts to resolve past human rights abuses, not just wait for the Parliament’s initiatives as stated by Mr. Mahfud MD,” said Taufik, emphasizing the statement of the Minister.

Both Parliament Members ensure that both of them commit to the follow up plan in the form of a meeting with the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Law and Security Affairs as well as the initiation of bringing together the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the Attorney General’s office in order to reach a common ground on the problem of the uncertain follow up of inquiry to investigtion under the Attorney General for the case of gross violations of human rights in Indonesia.

In addition, a number of elements of the civil society also expressed their opinions regarding the investigation of the Talanngsari massacre in 1989, and no investigation being carried out by the Attorney General. Moreover, the local Government in Lampung regency has declared itself to be a human rights friendly and child friendly City, even though there is still a bad stigma towards the victims of the Talangsari Lampung. Local Governments that already claim to be human rights friendly cities should pay more attention to victims of past human rights violations,” said Hendi Gusta Rianda, a public defender from Lampung Legal Aid.

Lecturer at the Lampung University, Dr. HS. Tisnanta, SH, MH said, “Talangsari’s struggle is not only for Talangsari. But also include 12 cases of past gross human rights abuses that have been investigated by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM). Every effort to resolve the Talangsari case often became commodities, When the Coordinator Minister entered the Talangsari case, how to solve it was like selling goods, the victims wanted to be given this and then it was considered finished even though the settlement should be prioritized through judicial processes so that there is a punishment to the perpetrators.”

With regard to the program of urgent reparations for victims, from hundreds of Talangsari victims, unfortunately only about 12 victims have received SKKPHAM (the Certificate of Victims of Human Rights Violations) to be able to access the assistance of the Witnesses and Victims Protection Agency (LPSK) which has been regulated under the Law No. 31 of 2014 and Government Regulation Number 35 of 2020. Therefore, at a meeting with the National Commission on Human Rights on February 8, 2022, the PK2TL also asked the Commission to speed up the victim verification process so that more Talangsari victims would receive SKKPHAM. The LPSK in a meeting with victims on February 9, 2022 which was attended by Hasto Atmojo Suroyo (the Chairman of the LPSK), Edwin Partogi and Susilaningtyas (Commissioner of the LPSK) added that victims who already have SKKPHAM can apply for medical assistance to specific psychosocial assistance such as scholarships, skills improvement and farm equipment.

In response to the development of the situation and the policies taken by the Government, we ask the Government to listen to what has been the desire of the victims as well as the inputs that we convey, as follows:

First, for the Coordinating Minister for Political, Law and Security Affairs to stop shifting responsibility to the legislature, therefore the Attorney General has to immediately commence an investigation upon the case of the Talangsari massacre;

Second, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, the Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Law and Security, as well as the relevant State institutions should involve victims at every stage, even from the beginning of the formulation of truth disclosure and reparation.