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PKI purge not a gross violation
of human rights, says AGO

Attorney General Basrief Arief said the systematic persecution of alleged members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) after the failed 1965 coup was not a gross human rights violation.

Speaking after taking part in a ceremony to mark the National Heroes Day at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery on Saturday, Basrief repeated his statement saying that the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) rejected the earlier claim by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and had returned the latter’s extensive report to the rights body.

Basrief made a similar comment on Friday, saying the evidence gathered by Komnas HAM was insufficient to justify a legal investigation.

“As I said yesterday, we have returned the report to Komnas HAM because it does not meet several requirements. In principle it [anti-communist purge] does not meet the requirement to be considered a gross violation of human rights,” he told reporters.

In late July, Komnas HAM declared that the persecution of alleged PKI members following the aborted coup did in fact constitute a gross human rights violation.

Komnas HAM said that state officials under the Operational Command for the Restoration of Security and Order (Kopkamtib), which was led by former president Soeharto from 1965 to 1967 and between 1977 and 1978, should be prosecuted for various crimes, including mass rape, torture and killings.

Komnas HAM also handed over a copy of its 850-page report to the AGO to form the basis for a possible criminal investigation.

After the Sept. 30, 1965 movement, thousands of people — some estimate as many as 500,000 — who were suspected of being PKI members, were killed. Many more were imprisoned for years without charge.

Two days after the report was published, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the AGO to study the report.

In October, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto claimed the mass killings were justified to save the country from communism.

Soon after the ceremony, President Yudhoyono, the First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and Boediono and his wife Herawati spread flower petals on the graves of the heroes, who include former vice presidents during the New Order, Umar Wirahadikusumah and Sudharmono.

Earlier this week, Yudhoyono had bestowed the honorary title of National Hero on the country’s first president and vice president, Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta.

Also present at the ceremony was Jakarta’s new Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, whose presence caused a ruckus near the cemetery when well-wishers tried to catch a glimpse of their new leader, ignoring more senior officials and politicians, including Yudhoyono himself.

Jokowi, who was wearing a black suit, greeted them with his typical wide smile and shook hands with those who participated in the ceremony as well as soldiers, police personnel and their families.

Historian J.J. Rizal said the adulation toward Jokowi could indicate that the public had a new definition of what constituted a modern-day hero.

“Most of the National Hero titles are bestowed upon individuals with a military background and soldiers who died on the battlefield. Citizens now, however, found their heroes among those individuals who can address current problems,” he said.

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