Deference for Human Rights

The UN Human Rights commission has distinguished individual and communities “right to life, right not to be subjected to torture, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association”. In the Indonesian Human Rights records of the last 15 years, a spate of unlawful murders perpetrated by Indonesian military and paramilitary forces particularly in the conflict areas of Aceh and West Papua province pervade.

Summary executions occur in the East Timor areas while continuing struggles in the Aceh provinces “see killings that had rarely seen the light of any investigation let alone holding the murderers accountable for the crimes committed”. In the light of Human Rights protocols and policies, Indonesia’s summary of violations calls for intervening measures that the entire world should act on. Summary executions in the early 90’s continued to “take place in the East Timor Areas where between 75-100 people are believed to have been shot dead when Indonesian security forces opened fire” in the midst of a peaceful rally near the capital of Dili.

It was in fact originally and innocently started as a memorial mass held for a young boy killed by Indonesian forces which soon evolved into a political demonstration supporting independence of East Timor. Hundred of troops opened fire in the cemetery as attendees started to place flowers in the boy’s grave, “killing at least 19 military troops when the Timorese retaliated”. No official records of Timorese death were revealed but a “foreign journalist was killed and American journalists were injured as a consequence”.

After international pressure to conduct an investigation, Suharto regime established a commission that no sooner blamed the marchers for instigating violence. More than 280 people suspected of participation were held in custody which gave a domino effect to a “subsequent protest by East Timorese students in Jakarta”. A spate of unlawful detention occurred against East Timor students and supporters “in the initial political demonstration and the student rally in Jakarta as forty-two and twenty-one remained in custody with the Indonesian police by year-end 1991”.

Estimation of people killed due to the ongoing conflicts in 1991 could not release any official tally as the Indonesian authorities tried their best to keep the spate of killing unsupported by evidence. Members of an Asia Watch Team however became “witnesses to the massive propaganda practiced by the military in order to instigate Muslims in East Timor to kill the guerilla/rebel forces themselves”. Disappearance which remained undocumented throughout the years by the government still grew in number as relatives reported how their loved ones were apprehended by the police and military and taken into custody.

In Aceh and on the Northern tip of Sumatra, persons detained for rebellion as freedom fighter’s stance of Aceh Merdeka or Free Aceh Movement were visited by humanitarian organizations that was soon blocked by the military. Apparently, the military and authorities thought it best that their identities or evidence of violence remain unsupported by evidence. Trials of the supporters for the Aceh Merdeka “faced coerced confessions while defense lawyers were warned against spirited defense favoring their clients”.

Those that the government possessed sufficient reasons to convict were brought to trial while hundreds languished in military detention camps. Although “623 jailed joint supporters were released between 1990 and 1991 having spent at least 6 months in jail”,  they were all forced to take loyalty oaths to the Indonesian government. In Papua, “Melkianus Salosa, a leader of the Free Papua Movement was found dead by the Indonesian military on August, 1991”.

According to Indonesian authorities, Salosa had “escaped in August 4 from military detention”  and the military tracked him down to his hide-out in Irian Jaya. Continuous disappearance occurred and deaths happened as a result of torture. Indonesians who were also accused of subversion faced heavier penalties. Four Indonesian men “distributing T-shirts bearing the flag of Melanesia were given prison sentences”  of more than 9 years each.

An Indonesian poet was jailed after “writing how Muhammad came eleventh in the poll after President Suharto, Saddam Hussien and a rock singer”. Critics of President Suharto also faced subversion charges while Indonesians critical of the Suharto regime on foreign soil were blacklisted. For political reasons, many were likewise banned from leaving or entering the country which heightened criticisms against Indonesian policies. The “mainstream press was likewise subjected to random checking”  as proofing of published materials further enhanced an Indonesian road to subversion.