John Gittings

Indonesia 1965 Tribunal: Judges' Statement
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Concluding Statement of the Judges of the International People’s Tribunal on the 1965 Crimes Against Humanity in Indonesia At The Close of Evidence on 13 November 2015


 

The judges of this Tribunal were appointed by the Foundation of the International People’s Tribunal on the 1965 Crimes Against Humanity in Indonesia to evaluate the upheaval and violence that plagued Indonesia during and after September-October 1965, to determine whether these events amounted to crimes against humanity, to express a conclusion on whether the state of Indonesia and/or any other state should assume responsibility for these crimes and to recommend what may be done in the interests of lasting and just peace and social progress in Indonesia.

 

The judges regret that neither the government of Indonesia, nor any other state to whom notice was given have made any submissions before this tribunal despite having been invited.

 

This Statement is made on the 13th day of November 2015, at the end of the hearing of oral testimony of the victims, and of expert witnesses, over four days, having taken into account the broad historical background, much research material, writing and opinion and, in particular:

 

a. the 23 July 2012 Statement by Komnas HAM (National Commission for Human Rights) on the Results of its Investigations into Grave Violations of Human Rights During the Events of 1965-1966;

 

b. the 2007 report Gender-Based Crimes Against Humanity : Listening to the Voices of Women Survivors of 1965 by Komnas Perempuan (Indonesian Commission for Violence against Women); and

 

c. the Concluding Observations of the UN Human Rights Committee in 2013 raising concerns about human rights violations in Indonesia in 1965 and after, the reiteration of those concerns in 2015, as well as the concerns expressed in 2012 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

The broad historical background includes material concerning the government in Indonesia before the events of 1965, accounts of these events and their impact, the years of the Suharto dictatorship until about the turn of the century, the new reformist constitutional era ushered in after the round rejection of the Suharto regime as well as events after that.

 

The judges have had particular regard to the fact that there is no credible material disputing the occurrence of these grave violations of human rights, the passage in Indonesia of truth and reconciliation legislation in an effort to come to terms with the fact that these events had indeed occurred, the absence of any denial by any government of Indonesia that these events had occurred and the promise made by the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, to ensure that these violations will be redressed. All the material 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.

 

The material presented to the judges may amount to proof that other grave crimes have been committed. This issue is also left open for the final judgment.

The judges are sufficiently satisfied of their conclusions to make them public now with confidence. However we need more time to set out in detail the basis upon which we have come to these conclusions. We shall file a final judgment justifying, with reasons, every conclusion and opinion in this statement within the coming months.

 

The judges consider the state of Indonesia responsible in the commission of such crimes against humanity as the chain of command was organised from top to bottom of the institutional bodies.

Despite the important and positive changes that took place in Indonesia in 1998, emphasising the importance of human rights in governance, this has not led to a situation in which the successive governments have genuinely addressed past grave and systematic human rights violations.

In addition to the above conclusions the Tribunal is convinced on the evidence presented that material propaganda advanced in 1965 that motivated the de-humanisation and thus the killing of thousands of people included many lies. In particular, the repeated assertion that the generals were castrated has long been disproved by autopsy reports and these reports have been known to successive governments of Indonesia. It is the duty of the president and government of Indonesia forthwith to acknowledge this falsity, to apologise unreservedly for the harm that these lies have done, and to institute investigations and prosecutions of those perpetrators who are still alive. The Tribunal would have thought that the President would, of course, do all this and be eager to keep his electoral promise. Furthermore, the archives should be opened and the real truth on these crimes against humanity should be established.

 

In this regard, the Members of this Tribunal note that Komnas HAM commenced investigations in 2008 and that the government of Indonesia has received the commission’s report and recommendations. The government has not implemented these recommendations and in our view should do so as a matter of urgency. These recommendations include appropriate reparation for victims.

 

We commend the Foundation and the many people who have invested time and energy as well as financial and other resources on this Tribunal. Without all that involvement and determination, such a tribunal would not have been possible. We trust that their efforts will be justified by an appropriate national and international response.

 

Mireille Fanon-Mendes France

Cees Flinterman

John Gittings

Helen Jarvis

Geoffrey Nice

Shadi Sadr

Zak Yacoob

 

 

The Indonesia People's Tribunal was held in the Nieuwe Kerk at the Hague, 10 - 13 November 2015.