Embassy tells RI students not to attend 1965 tribunal

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | November 05 2015 | 5:09 PM

The government has allegedly tried to ban Indonesian students from attending a “people’s tribunal” on the 1965 Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) purge in The Hague.The head of the tribunal’s organizing committee, human rights lawyer Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, said on Wednesday that the Indonesian Embassy in The Hague had warned the Indonesian Students Association (PPI) in Leiden, The Netherlands, not to attend the tribunal, to be held from Nov. 10 to 13.“I received a letter that says ‘our Indonesian students were called to the Indonesian Embassy in The Hague and told they will lose their scholarships if they join us. The embassy itself has decided it is a form of resurrecting communism’,” she told The Jakarta Post. Nursyahbani said the embassy had no business intimidating Indonesian students and had no right to revoke their scholarships.

Likewise, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) chairman Haris Azhar lambasted the reported actions of the embassy.“I’ve heard about it and I believe it’s such an unnecessary thing to do. For me, it shows an archaic mentality. Why does our government, which is paid for by the people’s money, block its own people’s initiative [to seek justice]?” he told the Post on Wednesday.The embassy and the PPI were not able to be reached for comments on the allegation.

Fifty years ago, following the events of Oct. 1, 1965, an estimated 500,000 Indonesians accused of being members or supporters of the PKI were killed, and many hundreds of thousands of people were detained without trial or exiled. The mass killings, and the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators, has long been enveloped in social and political amnesia.Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has maintained that the government will not resort to any judicial mechanism to resolve past human rights abuse cases, including the 1965 purge.Luhut said the government was still exploring what he called “a format that fit the Indonesian way” to deal with past rights abuse cases.

Since there has been no official attempt to find out who was behind the killings, who the victims were exactly, and where they are buried, a number of Indonesian and local researchers, activists and 1965 victims at home and in various countries in Europe have taken the initiative to hold the tribunal called the “International People’s Tribunal [IPT] for the 1965 crimes against humanity”.“The tribunal’s mission is to examine the evidence for these crimes against humanity, develop an accurate historical and scientific record and apply principles of international law to the collected evidence.

Testimonies will be given by a selected number of victims and survivors both from Indonesia and political exiles currently living elsewhere,” a press statement from the organizing committee said.However, since the IPT is not a criminal court, it has no mandate to provide justice or compensation to the victims.“It will endeavor to push the state to take its responsibility toward the victims and their families, and toward Indonesian society as a whole,” the organizing committee said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir denied the allegation. “The information [that we receive] from the Indonesian Embassy in The Hague says that the news is not true. There’s never been intimidation or banning,” he told the Post on Wednesday.

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