On September 28, 2009 the House of Representatives issued several recommendations to the President to bring the perpetrators of the infamous student disappearances of 1998 to justice. Human rights activists who protested against the inaction of the president in Jakarta with a tent action in front of the presidential palace were arrested during the evening of September 27, 2010. The Asian Human Rights Commission strongly condemns the arrest of human rights defenders after a peaceful protest.
Between 1997 and 1998, 24 students and other activists were abducted by the Army Special Forces Command for their involvement in the struggle for change and democracy in the so-called New Order government of that time. Until the final fall of the New Order regime in 1998 massive human rights violations and political oppression marked the history of Indonesia. The National Human Rights Commission had conducted inquiries into the abduction and disappearance of the protesters in 2006 and passed the case into the Human Rights Court process as established by a special law. However, the required follow up of the attorney general has never taken place who claimed that the parliament and the president would have to take action first.
While Parliament made its recommendations one year ago, it is the President who is now delaying justice in the case by not taking any action to implement the Parliament’s recommendations after one year. The recommendations were:
1. the president to issue a presidential decree to establish an ad hoc human rights court on the case of the student disappearances of 1997/98;
2. the president to establish the whereabouts of 13 victims of the event, who are still missing until today;
3. full remedies to be given to the victims and victim’s family;
4. the government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Several human rights groups including the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) have voiced their demands to the president on several occasions. On Monday this week the civil society speakers held a peaceful protest event in front of the presidential palace voicing their demands. At around 6pm 30 protesters including family members of the disappeared students of 1997/98 were arrested and brought to the Central Jakarta Police Station. They were released only around midnight.
On September 28, 2010 the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto promised KontraS that government will do their part in following the recommendations of the parliament. Would the case be brought up as a political issue, Mr. Djoko worried, the opposition parties in the parliament may use it to “hit” on the President.
The AHRC condemns the arrest of human right defenders and victim’s family members after peaceful protest action and is very disappointed with the negligence from the President and the Attorney General’s Office side in regard to the case student disappearances of 1997/98. The perpetrators continue enjoying immunity while the victims and their families have not received compensation.