INDONESIA: Komnas HAM has opened an inquiry into the 1965-66 massacre 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-10-2003

INDONESIA: Crime against humanity; massacre – denial of criminal justice


Dear Friends,

AHRC has issued the following open letter regarding the inquiry into the 1965-66 massacre in Indonesia. We invite you to also write your own letters to the inquiry team. Please note that we have corrected the name of the Secretary General of Komnas HAM (Mr. Gembong Priyono), to whom you could send a copy of your letter to the investigators. Please also forward a copy of your letter to This is too important a breakthrough to ignore.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk.

Asian Human Rights Commission


OPEN LETTER to the chair of investigation team (Komnas HAM) and head of team investigating (National Commission on Violence against Women – Komnas Perempuan)

25 February, 2003

Mr. M.M. Billah and Ms. Ita F. Nadia

c/- Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia (Komnas HAM),

Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B,

Menteng, 10310,

Jakarta Pusat,


Dear Mr. Billah and Ms. Nadia,

We have learnt that in January 2003, Komnas HAM formed an ad hoc team to investigate the human rights abuses carried out during the Soeharto era, beginning with the massacre of 1965-66. We understand that Mr. Billah is the chair of this team, and Ms. Ita Nadia the head of the team investigating the 1965-66 massacre. We first became aware of this commission through an interview of Ms. Ita Nadia by ABC Asia Pacific and were greatly disturbed to hear that you have already been threatened by anonymous persons because ofthe planned investigation.

As you may know, Asian Human Rights Commission has for some years, along with many local and international organizations, been calling for a thorough investigation of the abuses committed during the New Order period. In particular, we have supported the calls of the late Ibu Sulami for a thorough criminal investigation into the 1965-66 massacre. AHRC is of the view that this massacre constitutes a crime against humanity, impunity for which completely undermines the entire Indonesian justice system. We firmly believe that unless there are serious and persistent efforts towards truth, justice and reconciliation regarding this massacre, there can be no hope for human rights, rule of law or democracy in Indonesia.

Thus we are heartened by the announcement to begin investigations to establish the case for further official inquiries, and also by the fact that you intend to continue these investigations in spite of the personal threats and great technical and political difficulties you will face. We commend you for taking on this challenge, and offer our support for your efforts.

Having said this, we will nevertheless take very seriously our role as a regional human rights organization to independently monitor this inquiry to ensure impartiality, inclusiveness of all available evidence, thoroughness of investigation, and commitment to presenting the facts of the case. We seek to cooperate with your investigations, but will not hesitate to expose any serious and avoidable failings in the work of the investigation team,should such failings occur. At this initial stage, a commitment to telling ‘the whole truth’ is essential in order to gain the confidence of the localand international human rights community.

We understand that the time frame for the investigation is quite short approximately 5 months. With this time frame, it will be quite difficult for the investigation team to exhume many of the mass graves that have been identified by Ibu Sulami and other human rights defenders. However, the evidence from the 1966 mass grave unearthed in November 2000 in Wonosobo, Central Java; and the evidence from the 1968 mass grave (a vertical cave) exposed in August 2002 in Blitar, East Java, must surely be included in the evidence considered by the investigation team. AHRC notes that at least 28 human bodies have been uncovered at these two sites, with the possibility of many more perhaps even hundreds remaining buried there. The evidence uncovered at these two sites should lead the investigation team to conclude that there is reason to believe that thousands more bodies remain hidden in dozens of mass gravesites identified by Ibu Sulami and other human rights defenders.

AHRC considers ignoring the findings at these sites which display forensic proof of mass extrajudicial killings would constitute a grave error in the process followed by the investigation team. AHRC is open to providing the investigation team with the evidence we have collected first-hand and second-hand regarding these mass graves in order to assist your work if it is not already available to you.

Under the present circumstances, it may be necessary for the investigating team to seek more time for these inquiries, citing the difficulties faced by them in doing a professional and a credible job within short time. The local and the international community is likely to support such a request by the investigation team.

We recognize that this is a vital opportunity to finally enable the truth to be told about one of the worst massacres of the 20th century, and will be monitoring the progress of the investigation team closely to ensure that this potential is in fact realized. We will closely follow the work also of the three other sub-inquiries related to abuses during Soeharto’s rule of Indonesia, while remaining ready to assist these inquiries in any way possible.

Yours sincerely,



Please send your own letter to the above investigators in order to express your attention to this matter, and to encourage them to conduct a full and proper investigation. You may use the above open letter as a sample.


1. Mrs. Megawati Sukarnoputri

President, Republic of Indonesia

Presidential Palace, Jakarta,

Istana Negara,


Fax: +62 21 345 2685 or 526 8726


2. Yusril Ihza Mahendra

Menteri Hukum dan Hak Asasi Manusia (Minister of Law and Human Rights)

Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. 6-7


Jakarta-Selatan 12950


Fax: +62 21 314 1625, 513095 or 5253095

3. Mr. Gembong Priyono

Secretary General

Komnas HAM (National Commission for Human Rights)

Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng

Jakarta Pusat


Fax: +62 21 392 5227



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Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-10-2003
Countries : Indonesia,