CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 September 2019

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President wants action on Soeharto massacre

JAKARTA (UCAN): The president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has ordered the attorney general to follow up on the findings of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), which has determined that the crackdown on the communist presence 45 years ago was a gross violation of human rights.

“We must be clear, honest and objective about what happened in the past. We’re not going to distort the history and facts,” the president said on July 25.

After a four-year investigation, involving interviews with hundreds of witnesses, the commission announced its findings on the anti-communist purge earlier this week.

It said it had discovered evidence of severe violations and crimes in the purge, which was ordered during 1965 to 1966 and accounted for the deaths of more than half a million people.

It also concluded that the now defunct Operational Command for the Restoration of Security (Kopkamtib) was largely responsible. The force was established in October 1965 and headed by Soeharto, who succeeded Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno, after he was overthrown.

The report said the crimes came in the form of murder, enslavement, expulsion or forcible transfer of population, deprivation of liberty or physical liberty, torture, rape and enforced disappearance.

“We want a good, just, factual and constructive settlement,” Yudhoyono said, adding that he would also consult with legislative bodies and other institutions regarding the findings.

Haris Azhar, the coordinator of the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS), who monitored the investigation process, praised the president’s immediate response, but warned that it must be followed by concrete action.

“He must act progressively by urging the attorney general to immediately form a team to follow up on this report. Do not just talk,” Azhar said.

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