Luhut Expected to Accelerate Reconciliation


Hopes are high for newly appointed Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan to speed up the ongoing process to settle past rights abuses, which has been sluggish due to political obstacles.

Luhut is expected to pick up where his predecessor Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno left off in leading a team assigned to discuss how to reach resolutions. The retired military general, who is supposedly close to rights campaigners in the country, will also open the process to the public to hinder it becoming too “elitist”.Human rights activists have slammed the team, which includes representatives from the Law and Human Rights Ministry, Attorney General Office, National Police, National Intelligence Agency (BIN), Indonesian Military and National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), as being too exclusive. They claim it leaves the public, and particularly the “voices of victims” and their family members, out of the discussion.

Zaenal Abidin from the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) blamed a people making links between the ongoing resolution talks and the rise of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) on the government’s lack of transparency in delivering the process.

“Thus Luhut must take the lead to continue the process in a more transparent way. Open the whole process to the public to avoid speculation and misunderstanding. Involve victims and their families to accommodate their needs,” Zaenal told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Anti PKI protests were held in several regions following misinterpreted information that circulated in the public of a plan by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to deliver an official apology to the communist party during his speech to commemorate the country’s 70th anniversary at a ceremony at the legislative building on Aug. 17.

The protests even turned violent in some regions with anti-communist supporters burning PKI’s flag.

However, Jokowi did not mention the PKI or deliver a state apology in his speech, but only emphasized the government’s commitment to search for the best solutions to find reconciliation.

“Today the government is seeking the wisest and noblest solutions to resolve rights violation cases in the country. We want a national reconciliation so that the future generations do not have to shoulder the historical burden of the past. The children of the nation should feel free to look to the future. All of this is only the initial steps of the government to uphold humanity in our homeland,” he said.

The government’s team is still discussing the solution mechanism as well as determining the priority cases that it will aim to accomplish by the end of Jokowi’s five-year term.

The discussion involves gross human rights violations in the past, including the (1989) Talangsari incident in Central Lampung, the (2001 and 2003) Wamena and Wasior incidents in Papua, various kidnappings, unresolved shootings in the 1980s, the 1965 communist massacre and the 1998 May riots.

Luhut has yet to make a public statement on the matter.

On the sidelines of the hand over ceremony from Tedjo to Luhut at the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Ministry on Aug. 12, Luhut said, “It is a priority, but I need to look at all the documents,” in response to the Post’s queries.

Komnas HAM chief Nur Kholis said that the rights commission was ready to resume discussions with other members of the task force under the leadership of Luhut in the near future.

“We hope newly appointed leaders within the team can immediately tune in with the process. However, we are confident that we are moving forward,” Nur Kholis assured.

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