The  International PeoplesTribunal on the human rights violations of 1965/66 in Indonesia took place in The Hague, from 11-13 November 2015. During those four days there was a scrutiny of testimonies, submission of evidence and analysis from experts. A Council of Judges consisting of renowned international law experts examined all material on the table, observed by some two hundred victims, experts, lawyers, human rights activists, and others.

The participants of the tribunal were from many different backgrounds. As was announced earlier, Indonesian students, working in The Netherlands had received rumours that their scholarship would possibly be at stake if they were in any way involved (is this a well-known terminology) in the International Peoples Tribunal. There were rumours that dozens of Indonesian students had to reconsider their support to the Tribunal. Still, many young Indonesians attended the meetings if only to see how a court procedure can take place.

At the beginning of each new session the Registrar – at the request of the Presiding Judge, Mr Yakoob –  asked whether a representative of the Indonesian government – that had been invited – were present and wished to address the meeting. In all eight occasions the response was in the negative.

The meeting itself was open to public, on the condition that the participants register beforehand. For safety reasons all participants were checked with regard to their identity at the entrance.

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The Indictment

Nine different human rights violations have been dealt with in the indictment:

  1. Murder

  2. Enslavement

  3. Imprisonment

  4. Torture

  5. Sexual violence

  6. Persecution

  7. Enforced disappearances

  8. Persecution through propaganda

  9. Complicity of other states in the commission of crimes against humanity.

All “counts” except for the last one claimed that the state of Indonesia is internationally responsible for the acts involved as crimes against humanity.

The complete indictment is available at the IPT website:

The Witnesses

On each of the nine counts of human rights violations the prosecution had invited witnesses, in some cases survivor witnesses, in others expert witnesses. A few preferred to give their statement “behind the screen” and used an alias. This was a procedure to give more protection, allowed for by the Council of Judges. Although already decades living outside Indonesia as exiles, they gave as their reason to remain unidentifiable, that they feared repercussions for the relatives in Indonesia.

The additional testimonies by the Komnas HAM and the Komnas Perempuan representatives were included at the last moment, as they provided important data for the Council of Judges at the International Peoples Tribunal.

dianto bachriadi nov2015 

Dianto Bachriadi of Komnas HAM

See also:

The verdict

Below is the main part of the literal tekst of the verdict after the conclusion of the hearings. The final Verdict will be published in 2016.

“All the material [presented to the Council of Judges] demonstrates beyond any doubt that the serious violation of human rights brought to the judges’ attention did occur. The judges consider that allegations by the prosecution of cruel and unspeakable murders and mass murders of over tens of thousands of people, of unjustifiable imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of people without trial and for unduly long periods in crowded conditions, and the subjection of many of the people in prison to inhumane and ruthless torture and to forced labour that might well have amounted to enslavement, are well founded.

It has also been demonstrated that sexual violence, particularly against women, was systematic and routine, especially during the period 1965-1967, that many political opponents were persecuted and exiled, and that many thousands of people who, according to propagandist and hate discourse, were thought not to support the Suharto dictatorship with sufficient fervour, disappeared.

All of this was justified and encouraged by propaganda aimed at establishing the false proposition that those opposed to the military regime were by definition grossly immoral and unspeakably depraved. It has been established that the State of Indonesia during the relevant period through its military and police arms committed and encouraged the commission of these grave human rights violations on a systematic and widespread basis.

 The judges are also convinced that all this was done for political purposes: to annihilate the PKI and those alleged to be its members or sympathizers, as well as a much broader number of people including Sukarno loyalists, trade unionists and teachers. The design was also to prop up a dictatorial violent regime which the people of Indonesia have rightly consigned to history.

It cannot be doubted that these acts, evaluated separately and cumulatively, constitute crimes against humanity, both in International Law and judged by the values and the legal framework of the new reformist era accepted by the people of Indonesia seventeen years ago.

This Tribunal has heard the detailed and moving evidence of victims and families as well as the evidence of established experts. It saw this evidence as no more than the mere tip of the iceberg, a few tangible, graphic and painful examples of the devastation of the human beings who appeared before them, as well as the wholesale destruction of the human fabric of a considerable sector of Indonesian society.

The prosecution made the case that other states have aided Suharto’s ruthless regime to achieve these results in the pursuit of the establishment of a particular international order in the context of the Cold War. We will consider this in our final judgment.”

See for the complete statement: