In a strong voice Judge Zak Yacoob spoke the words so many victims of the 1965 tragedy had been waiting for so long. The Verdict of the International People's Tribunal 1965 (IPT 1965) considers the State of Indonesia responsible for crimes against humanity committed in the period 1965/1966 and the years after. These crimes include killings, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearances and hate propaganda. The Verdict also considers foreign states, specifically USA, UK and Australia complicit of these crimes. The verdict notes that possibly those crimes can also be considered to fall within the definition of genocide.

On 20 July 2016 Presiding Judge of the Panel of Judges of the IPT 1965, seven experts in international law, presented the final verdict after four days hearings had been held in November 2015 in The Hague. He said the evidence brought forward by the various testimonies by victims, survivors, eye-witnesses and experts, had proven conclusively that these crimes can be and should be regarded as crimes against humanity. You can view the screening of his presentation with subtitles in bahasa Indonesia here.

The structure of the report is very clear and follows the original indictment that was submittted to the Panel of Judges in November 2015 in The Hague. The different human rights violations on which testimonies were delievered include killings, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearances and hate propaganda. An often returning obstacle is the lack of overall figures of the numbers of victims, but the judges found the testimonies sufficiently conclusive and compelling for their overall conclusions: in each of these sectors their conclusion was that the crimes amount to crimes against humanity.

The Panel of Judges also decided that there was sufficient evidence to speak of complicity of foreign states, specifically USA, UK and Australia. Additionally and unexpectedly it formulated a claim on the subject of genocide - which on purpose had not been included in the original indictment as it may distract attention from the substance of the crimes against humanity by its conceptual definition problems.

The Verdict formulates three recommendations: It calls upon the Indonesian govenment urgently and without qualification to

  1. apologize to all victims, survivors and their families for the commission by the State of all the crimes against humanity and other crimes committed in Indonesia in relation to the 1965 events;
  2. investigate and prosecute all crimes against humanity;
  3. ensure appropriate compensation and reparation to victims and survivors.

It concludes by a strong support for the recommendations made earlier by the Komnas Perempuan and the Komnas HAM in their reports, and the calls by Indonesia human rights groups to

  1. fight impunity, agreeing that impunity for past serious crimes against humanity poisons a society and breeds new violence;
  2. rehabilitate the victims and remove any still outstanding persecution by the authorities or restrictions on their full enjoyment of all human rights guaranteed under international and Indonesian law;
  3. establish the truth about what happened so future generations can learn from the past.

The Verdict generated ample publicity in Indonesia and abroad. The Indonesian government quickly responded with a statement by minister for Politics, Justice and Security (former general) Luhut Panjaitan and rejected the recommendations as well as the claims by the IPT 1965 Verdict with regard to foreign involvement.

 Soon to be analysed chapter by chapter