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Security Minister Wiranto flees Palace ahead of meeting with families of rights victims

KBR - May 31, 2018

Jakarta – Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs, former General Wiranto, did not attend a meeting between President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the families of victims and survivors of past human rights violations.

When approached by journalists following the inauguration of presidential advisory board members at the State Palace on Thursday May 31, Wiranto was reluctant to talk as he hurried towards his official vehicle.

"Ask the Mensetneg [State Secretariat Minister]. I have duties elsewhere. Ask him", said Wiranto at the Presidential Palace complex on Thursday May 31.

Wiranto is often cited as being the actor behind the May 1998 riots. When the riots erupted, Wiranto held the post of Defense and Security Minister as well as the commander of the Armed Forces, then known as ABRI.

After former president Suharto stepped down, Wiranto faced allegations of involvement in the riots, the abduction of activists and the shooting of student activists. He is alleged to have been directly or indirectly involved in the Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II student shootings in Jakarta in 1998.

This afternoon, President Widodo is scheduled to meet with the families of victims and survivors of past gross human rights violations at the Palace. The plan for the meeting was hatched after Widodo met with several legal experts and human rights activists at the State Palace yesterday.

Amnesty International Executive Director Usman Hamid said that at the Wednesday meeting with Widodo he reviewed a series of pass cases of gross human rights violations which have to this day still not been resolved. Upon hearing this, Widodo asked Special Presidential Staff member Teten Masduki and his aide to schedule a meeting with the families of the victims.

"The president felt that he had already tried to receive (the families of the victims). But according to the president the families never wanted to come. I said, if this is really true then the president can meet them and if he seriously wants to meet with the victims of the Kamisan [Thursday] actions, yes well we can just schedule it", said Usman after meeting with Widodo at the State Palace on Wednesday.

"The president immediately said that if that's the case then how about tomorrow (Thursday)? By coincidence there's a Kamisan tomorrow", he added referring to the Thursday actions held by the families of the victims of human rights violations in front of the State Palace each Thursday.

The planned arrival of Widodo at the 540th Kamisan action did indeed give rise to questions among survivors and human rights activists. This is because they have been holding actions in front of the State Palace for 11 years and have sent hundreds of letters to different presidents – including Widodo. None of these however have ever elicited a response.

"We are concerned that president Jokowi's arrival or meeting today is just going to be symbolic in nature or a 'gimmick' in the midst of a political year", read a written statement received by KBR.

These doubts were also conveyed by an alliance of human rights NGOs and the families of victims including the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) and Suciwati, the wife of renowned human right defender Munir who was assassinated in 2004.

The activists and victims warned that if the meeting is not based on good intentions and a genuine commitment then it will instead insult their sense of justice and humanity. It is quite possible that it would dash the hopes of survivors and families.

"Right from the start the aim of the Kamisan actions was not simply to be visited by or meet with the president, rather they were to press for state liability for the numerous cases of human rights violations that have taken place in Indonesia", read a joint statement received by KBR from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), YLBHI, LBH Jakarta and Suciwati.

Reports by a number of legal and human rights monitoring groups have categorised the performance of President Widodo and his subordinates in resolving human rights violations as slow. Yet, continued the written statement, a full investigation and resolution to past human rights cases was included in Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla's Nawa Cita or nine point program.

"President Jokowi's policies on resolving gross human rights violations also took a step back with the appointment of Wiranto as Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs  (Menkopolhukam), and placing the coordination for the resolution of past gross human rights violations under [the authority of] the Menkopolhukam", the groups said.

Because of this therefore, the coalition of NGOs is urging Widodo to rid the cabinet of figures alleged to be involved in human rights violations. As a measure of the seriousness of the government in resolving human rights cases, the president is also being call upon to form a presidential committee.

"Instead of just coming to meet with Kamisan action protesters which could tend to smack strongly of image building, President Jokowi should give more priority to forming a presidential committee to resolve human rights cases and take concrete measures rather than actions that are populist", they said.


President Widodo appointed Suharto era Armed Forces chief and Defense Minister General Wiranto as Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs in July 2016. In 2003, Wiranto was indicted on charges of crimes against humanity by a UN-backed court for his role in the Indonesian military violence during East Timor's 1999 independence referendum. He was also implicated in the anti-Chinese riots in 1998 in a 2003 report by the National Human Rights Commission.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was Bergegas Tinggalkan Istana, Menko Wiranto Tak Temui Keluarga Korban Pelanggaran HAM.]

Source: http://kbr.id/terkini/05-2018/bergegas_tinggalkan_istana__menko_wiranto_tak_temui_keluarga_korban_pelanggaran_ham/96240.html.

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