The Jakarta Post
On the 50th anniversary of the 1965 communist purge, US Senator Tom Udall has reintroduced a resolution that would bring attention the murder of up to 1 million people, which he deemed as one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.
Udall's resolution, which he first introduced last year, urges President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's government to create a truth and reconciliation commission to address the tragedy. It also calls on the US government to establish an interagency working group and to release relevant classified documents.
'Beginning on Oct. 1, 1965, in Indonesia, between 50 thousand and 1 million individuals ' many of them civilians ' were killed by and with the support of the Indonesian government. Many more were imprisoned without due process of law, making this one of the worst mass atrocities in the history of Indonesia,' said Udall, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement on Friday.
Acknowledging that the US government had maintained military and financial support for the Indonesian government during that period, Udall said that both countries must work together to resolve that chapter of history by declassifying information and officially recognizing the atrocities that occurred.
'The United States should stand in favor of continued democratic progress for our vital ally Indonesia and allow these historical documents to be disclosed,' Udall continued. 'Only by recognizing the past can we continue to work to improve human rights across the globe.'
Responding to Udall's statement, National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) member Muhammad Nurkhoiron said that such a bold statement could help speed up the process of reconciliation and contribute to the dissemination of knowledge about events surrounding the 1965 turmoil.
Nurkhoiron said the declassification of documents would give momentum and reinforce the commission's previous efforts for reconciliation. 'If the old documents are opened up to the public, we will have alternative sources of information that will open our eyes to the importance of resolving the 1965 problem,' he said on Friday.
'The international community has played an important role in this; now Indonesia will have to be responsive to the issue, whether we like it or not,' he said.
Nurkhoiron claimed that the Komnas HAM commissioner had also said that the disclosure of new information about the atrocities would allow room for fresh debate not dominated by a sense of resentment.
He said that there was hope that the government would implement a scheme similar to the Freedom of Information Act in the US, or that state documents would be declassified after a certain period of time in order to uncover the truth behind past human rights violations.
Meanwhile, Attorney General M. Prasetyo has continued to insist that the government would never deliver an apology to victims and families of those who died in the communist purge.
'Nobody ever said that the President would apologize, but that we would express our regret that such an incident [...] had occurred,' he said at the Attorney General's Office (AGO) in South Jakarta, on Friday.
Prasetyo said it was extremely difficult to discern who was truly at fault for the 1965 communist purge as it had been a chaotic period.
'It was chaos at the time [...] Everyone says they are right and that the other party is wrong, but [who's to say] which is right and which is wrong? We [will say] that we regret and lament that the incident occurred, so that similar things won't occur again. There won't be any apologies,' he said.
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