by Jennie S. Bev
Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said recently the Indonesian government was no longer prioritizing the search for the culprits responsible for The May 1998 Tragedy.
He said, “It’s a bit difficult for us to look for who is responsible. However, we agree to hand out compensation [for the victims and their families], such as the chance to get a job. I even guarantee a job at the Justice and human rights ministry for them.”
This statement is outright appalling. Monetary compensation and job benefits sound good, but they cannot replace the men and women who were killed, the raped women, and, most importantly, the loss of trust in the government.
Do not punish the victims and survivors of an atrocity by discontinuing the search for culprits. They have suffered more than enough.
A simple “test of trust” would do. Just ask any pedestrian on the streets of Jakarta. Most likely they would say that pemerintah or Indonesian government officials aren’t representative of the people. Some wealthy and corrupt businessmen are also known to support greedy politicians, who for some reasons, find “easy money” extremely tempting.
Just like the Indonesian Military (TNI) isn’t the people’s military, citing activist Coen Husein Pontoh, I would say the Indonesian government isn’t the people’s representatives either.
In Indonesia, it is common knowledge that politics are sold to the highest bidders, including saving the human rights abusers. How sad.
While it’s not my place to judge Patrialis’ reason on why the government is no longer prioritizing the search for The May 1998 Tragedy atrocity, I daringly make a subjective and speculative conclusion that he is allegedly involved in “saving faces” of certain powerful people in the government or who intend to run in politics.
Please note that I’m using the word “allegedly” in this statement. It is simply a reminder, not an accusation.
It is implied that the Justice and Human Rights Ministry of Indonesia is not interested in genuinely protecting the human rights of all Indonesian citizens and residents. Of course, I will be extremely happy to be mistaken in this.
We are sure that the minister will be very happy to prove us wrong by continuing the search for culprits of the May 1998 Tragedy. Can we get a handshake from you, sir?
Such an insensitive statement is quite mind-boggling considering Indonesia is an elected member of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) among 47 members of 63 contenders, of which other 12 Asian countries are Bangladesh, Bahrain, China, India, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka.
One of UNHRC three vice presidents is Dian Triansyah Djani of Indonesia. The other two are Carlos Portales of Chile and Andrej Logar of Slovenia. It is obvious that Indonesia looks pretty good on paper, as they will be serving until June 18, 2010.
For this year, however, the “Coalition for an Effective Human Rights Council” comprising several NGOs including Human Rights Watch have made a joint statement that five UNHRC membership candidates — Angola, Libya, Malaysia, Uganda and Thailand — do not fit the criteria for selection.
Iran has withdrawn in April 2010 due to pressure of human rights abuses. The other countries elected are: Mauritania, Maldives, Qatar, Moldova, Poland, Ecuator, Guatemala, Spain and Switzerland.
Judging from this year’s candidates, the election of Indonesia as a member was probably a mistake since grave human rights abuses in various forms are still occurring to this very day, including killings, discrimination and unfair laws and regulations.
While the UN is a respected organization, politicizing elements also occur, just like in any other organization.
Hillel Neuer, the executive director of the UN Watch in Geneva, who leads the coalition said, “By electing serial human rights violators, the UN violates its own criteria as well as common sense.”
I have high hopes for Indonesia and the betterment of the human rights condition in this beloved country where I was born and raised.
For now, let me remind the Indonesian government through its Justice and Human Rights Ministry that one violation against humanity is a violation against all members of the human race.
Unless the search for the culprits of The May 1998 Tragedy atrocity continues, Indonesia will never receive its deserved respect as a humane and democratic nation.
Minorities and all human lives must be respected and protected in a fair democracy. At this point, Indonesia isn’t a democracy. It’s a tyrannical country.
Families of victims and survivors of the May 1998 Tragedy are waiting in tears, still.
The Jakarta Post, May 23, 2010