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Jakarta Post

Public lack faith in Jokowi's ability to solve past human rights abuses: Survey

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, December 5, 2019   /   02:33 pm
Public lack faith in Jokowi's ability to solve past human rights abuses: Survey Maria Catarina Sumarsih (left) holds an umbrella during the 536th kamisan, a weekly silent protest in front of the State Palace in Jakarta, on April 26, 2018. The protests have been held since 2007 to urge the government to resolve human rights abuse cases, including the 1998 Semanggi shooting, which resulted in the death of Maria’s son, Bernardus Realino Norma Irawan. (JP/Aditya Bhagas)

Many people in the country doubt whether the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo – Ma’ruf Amin is capable of resolving cases of past human rights abuse in the country, a recent survey has revealed.

The poll conducted by Kompas daily for the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), which surveyed 1,200 people from across 34 provinces ─ found that 82.2 percent of respondents felt past cases should be resolved, but many did not believe the government would be able to do so.

“There is a lack of faith that the Jokowi-Ma’ruf [administration] can resolve these cases because the cases include collisions with power,” Komnas HAM commissioner Choirul Anam said during the survey’s launch on Wednesday.

The highest skepticism occurred when it came to the kidnapping of prodemocracy activists between 1997 and 1998, with around 65.5 percent of respondents saying they did not believe the cases could be resolved.

Some 50.3 percent of respondents doubted that the government could resolve the 1965 tragedy ─ which saw the killing of hundreds of thousands of members and sympathizers of the now-defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI)

Meanwhile 49.8 percent felt that summary execution-style killings that occurred between 1982 and 1985, known locally as penembakan misterus (mysterious shootings) or Petrus, would not be resolved.

They are also skeptical that there will be closure to cases of human rights violations that occurred in events surrounding the downfall of Soeharto’s New Order era in 1998 ─ including the Trisakti and Semanggi shootings and the May 1998 riots, with 48.4 percent and 50.7 percent of respondents casting their doubts, respectively.

A majority of the respondents (73.9 percent) also believed that political considerations were the “biggest obstacle” preventing the government from resolving the cases.

“So it will be up to President [Jokowi] whether or not he wants to solve [the cases] in accordance with public wishes,” Choirul said, adding that he hoped the survey would prompt the government to take steps to resolve the cases.

Resolving past human rights abuse cases was among Jokowi’s promises in both his 2014 and 2019 presidential campaigns, however, families of victims and activists have repeatedly criticized his administration’s sluggish efforts to settle the cases over the years.

Jokowi’s commitment to solve the decades-old cases has also been questioned after he appointed former Indonesian Military (TNI) generals implicated in human rights violations toward the end of the New Order era to strategic positions in his Cabinet.

They include Wiranto, who served as the coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister in Jokowi’s first-term Cabinet, as well as Jokowi’s own erstwhile election rival Prabowo Subianto, who currently serves as the Defense Minister.

In his capacity as the TNI (then ABRI) commander, Wiranto was accused of being responsible for the 1998 Trisakti and Semanggi shootings as well as the disappearance of 13 prodemocracy activists, Prabowo was also implicated in the latter case. Both have denied all allegations. (kmt/trn)