Reflections on Human Rights Day on December 10th “The New Order Regime of Violence and Reform in the Era of Impunity

Live Press
Nomor: 09/SP/IMPARSIAL/XII/2018

On December 10th, the commemoration of Human Rights Day is held in many places. This warning is part of our efforts as human beings to continue to maintain and care for human rights values so that they are respected and protected by anyone, especially the state. Respect for human rights values certainly causes us to reject violence in any form.

IMPARSIAL assesses that the current political dynamics that present assumptions and opinions in public discourse that the New Order Era is a good era so that there is a longing to return to that time is truly ahistorical and inappropriate. Throughout Indonesia's history, political life during the New Order regime was full of violence and restrictions. In order to maintain its authoritarian rule, the New Order regime used violence and threats of violence as a political method to continue to maintain its power.

Every criticism of citizens is seen as a threat so that arbitrary arrests, kidnappings and even murders are repeated during this period. The communist stigma and security destabilizers were often pinned by the New Order regime to activists who were critical of power. Whereas the pretext of security interests is the regime's shield to maintain its corrupt and dilapidated power. As a result, various incidents of violence and human rights violations occurred, such as the 1997/1998 abduction of activists, the banning of mass media, the murder of labor activist Marsinah, the expropriation of people's land such as the Kedung Ombo case, various violence against student groups such as the Trisakti tragedy and May 1998.

The New Order's concerns over Islamic power also resulted in the New Order regime's tight control over Islamic groups, such as through a policy of coercion over the single principle of Pancasila, violence against Islamic groups such as in Tanjung Priok and Talangsari Lampung. And even the regime did not hesitate to establish the status of Military Operation Areas (DOM) in conflict areas such as Papua and Aceh which in practice resulted in various cases of human rights violations.

In the New Order Era, freedom became an expensive item. The regime restricts and repressively controls fundamental freedoms of citizens, such as freedom of opinion, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and other aspects of freedom. At this time the state was not based on law (rechtsstaat), but the state was based on power (machsstaat). So that it is always the rulers who are right and the people who are wrong, therefore state violence that leads to human rights violations often occurs during the New Order Era.

Entering the Reformation Era which began to roll after the fall of the New Order regime in 1998, there was great hope in the community for corrections to various past violence and human rights violations. Unfortunately, every government regime that came to power during the Reformation period did not resolve cases of human rights violations that occurred. So far, Komnas HAM has completed the investigation process into nine cases of past human rights violations, namely: 1965/1966, the 1982-1985 mysterious shooting (Petrus) incident, the 1997-1998 forced disappearance of activists, the 1998 Trisakti incident, and the Semanggi I incident. 1998 and II 1999, the 1989 Talangsari Incident, the 1998 May riots, and the 2000-2003 Wasior Wamena Incident. In addition, in 2017-2018 Komnas HAM has also submitted files on cases of serious human rights violations in Aceh to the Attorney General's Office, namely the Jambu Keupok case, Simpang KKA, and the Geudong House case. However, the process of resolving these cases has stagnated in the hands of the Attorney General's Office, which has no political commitment to follow up on the results of Komnas HAM investigations.

In our human imagination, it is really difficult to imagine a crime that not only tarnishes but also attacks human dignity that does not make the government move to solve it. Kidnappings, torture, murders that were part of the practice of power in the past became a black stain that was continuously covered up by the state.

Impunity has become part of the face of our law. In this country, perpetrators of human rights crimes experience immunity before the law. The investigation by the Komnas HAM institution only resulted in a report file which was never followed up by the State. The Attorney General seems to be determining the truth of human rights crimes, so that no matter how perfect the report file on the results of the Komnas HAM investigation is still considered "incomplete" by the Attorney General's Office.

The obstacles in the Prosecutor's Office are caused by the lack of political will and courage of the President so far. Moreover, the settlement of cases of human rights violations has entered the transactional political space. With an oligarchic style, cases of human rights violations are not only ignored but in certain moments and cases become bargaining power between political elites. The progress of the settlement of the case is no longer based on legal arguments but on the political calculations of the authorities.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the recommendation of the people's representatives (DPR) for the government to establish a human rights court for the case of Enforced Disappearances in 1997/1998 was not touched by any government regime. The government's sense of rigths is no longer low but has been dulled due to transactional politics. As a result, victims continue to lament their hopes, while perpetrators of human rights violations are free from the shackles of the law and easily step into power.

It is ironic indeed, in a democracy that actually obliges the State to fulfill the human rights of its citizens, we still continue to hear the voices of the victims in front of the State Palace. Whereas the settlement of cases of human rights violations is part of the constitutional responsibility of the State which must be completed.

In the course of 20 years of Reformation since 1998, it is recognized that it has produced a number of positive achievements in the form of strengthening the guarantee of citizens' human rights in laws and regulations, such as in the 1945 Constitution, Law no. 39 of 1999, and Law no. 12 of 2005 concerning Ratification of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. However, in the midst of this progress, a paradox emerged in which a number of laws and policies that contradict the guarantees of human rights in the 1945 Constitution and other laws are still being maintained.

The problem of disharmony of laws and regulations has indeed become a major problem in the legislative politics of the Reformation Era, as a result of which there is a law that guarantees human rights but there are other laws that, on the contrary, threaten and limit freedom and human rights. For example, the MD3 Law, the Law on Ormas, the ITE Law, the Law on Handling Social Conflicts, as well as a number of government policies in the context of religion, such as the 3 Ministerial Decree on Ahmadiyah, and the increasing number of legal regulations that include the threat of the death penalty.

In the context of human rights enforcement, apart from past human rights violations, there are also several other human rights issues that occurred during the Reformation period. In the promotion and protection of the right to life, Indonesia was in the spotlight during the Reformation Era. During the Reformation Era to this day, the number of executions in Indonesia has reached 45 people.

In the issue of freedom of religion or belief, although our constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to have a religion or belief, threats and violations of this right to freedom are rampant in a number of areas. The state seems to be absent to provide optimal protection for the enjoyment of this freedom.

Violations of this freedom can be seen in a number of patterns, ranging from rampant acts of intolerance allowed by state officials, punishments under the pretext of blasphemy of religion are quite high, destruction and prohibition of places of worship in a number of areas, discrimination on the basis of religious identity is often experienced by minority groups, such as discrimination population and social administration services to the Ahmadiyya congregation.

One of the main problems in the context of freedom of religion and belief in Indonesia is the product of legislation and policies that are in harmony with one another. The existence of these regulations and policies, in fact, is often used to limit freedom of religion and belief in society, not only by radical and intolerant religious groups but also by the government.

In the context of guarantees and protection for freedom of expression, it still shows a high level of violations. This can be seen from the rise of cases of restrictions, prohibitions, disbandment of discussion activities and screenings of films about the 1965 case in a number of areas.

In the context of the protection of human rights defenders, human rights defenders who are an integral part in advocating for the respect, promotion and protection of human rights are still considered as disturbances and threats. Human rights defenders often face various forms of restrictions, violence, and criminalization in their work. Whereas human rights defenders play an important role not only in realizing human rights goals globally, but also national goals themselves. At the national level, human rights defenders play a role in encouraging the realization of the ideals of the founding of the Indonesian state as mandated by the Constitution. Human rights defenders oversee the ongoing functioning of democracy and the implementation of human rights legal norms, especially in advocating for victims of cases of human rights violations.

The resolution of the murder case against human rights activist Munir also did not show any significant progress. The case of Munir's murder is 14 years since he was poisoned on September 7th, 2004 aboard a Garuda Indonesia flight. The process of investigating this case still leaves the question as to whether the intellectual actor behind his murder is still at large. In fact, the disclosure of the Munir murder case is one of the important agendas for upholding human rights. The unfinished investigation of the case has strengthened the government's weak commitment to upholding human rights.

In the context of resolving cases of human rights violations, President Jokowi is actually not too late to resolve cases of human rights violations and in advancing human rights enforcement in Indonesia. There is still time left that can be used by the government. As part of the political promise at Jokowi's Nawacita, efforts to resolve cases of human rights violations and the promotion of human rights should be completed and realized by the Jokowi-JK government.

The closest case that the government can resolve is to immediately establish an ad hoc human rights court for the cases of enforced disappearances/disappeared persons in 1997-1998. As is known, the DPR has recommended to the Government to immediately establish an ad hoc human rights court in cases of enforced disappearances/missing persons. Therefore, it is the government's obligation to follow up on the recommendations from the DPR.

The second closest step that the President can take is to order the Attorney General to follow up the legal process on all cases of human rights violations that have been delegated by Komnas HAM to the Attorney General's Office. The third step that the Government can take is to revise Law No. 39/1999 to strengthen the Komnas HAM institution. One of the institutional strengthening is by giving the Komnas HAM stronger authority in handling cases of human rights violations. Komnas HAM often encounters problems in resolving cases of human rights violations because the files are continuously returned by the Prosecutor's Office. The fourth step, the Government should ratify the Rome Statute (International Criminal Court or ICC / International Criminal Court) as the Government's commitment in advancing the enforcement of human rights in Indonesia and the world.

We all have a historical debt to the democracy fighters who died and disappeared during the New Order era or during the Reformation era. Because of them, we have achieved freedom today even though politics has not yet fully shown its authentic face. Bringing the perpetrators of human rights violations to justice is a sacred duty for all of us. Don't let them be the rulers of this land. If that happened, history would be ashamed to record it.

Jakarta, December 10th, 2018


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