ELSAM Press Conference: International Day for the Right to the Truth : Demand the Promise of Resolution for Past Human Rights Violation Cases

Every year on March 24th, the world celebrates International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, or also known as ‘International Truth Day’. International Truth Day was proclaimed by UN as an honour of Archbishop Pscar Arnulfo Romero, a human rights and social justice campaigner, who was assassinated by El Salvador government on 24 March 1980. The purpose of the Day is an international community effort not only to honour the memory of serious and systematic human rights violations victims, but also to promote the importance of the right to truth and justice.

The urgency of the right to the truth was also emphasized by UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon, “ the right to the truth is essential for the victims as well as society at large. Uncovering the truth of human rights violations of the past can help prevent human rights violations in the future.”

On the contrary to the spirit of international community above, the promotion of the right to the truth in Indonesia ironically is far beyond expectation. Although President Joko Widodo has repeatedly make a promise in public to solve the past human rights violation cases, the promises even stated in the government’s Nawacita vision and mission, yet in the reality the government up to date has not shown the real effort to fulfil the promise. The denial to solve the past human rights violates cases also could be seen with the aggressiveness of the security forces, particularly the police, that supposed to be the representative of state goal. The aggressiveness is in the form of prohibition on various initiatives to reveal the truth which initiated independently by civil society organizations and victims.

One of the initiatives could be seen obviously in the prohibition of having discussion as an effort to reveal the truth.  There are numbers of prohibition of discussion on the past human rights violation cases for the first three months in 2016, such as the cancellation of ‘Festival Belok Kiri’(Turn Left Festival) on February 2016, the cancellation of the film “Pulau Buru Tanah Air Beta” (Buru Island My Motherland) in Jakarta, as well as the threat of a Tan Malaka monologue show “Saya Rusa Berbulu Merah” (I Am A Red-furred Fox) on March, 2016 in Bandung. The regression in an effort of revealing the truth is truly beyond what mentioned in Nawacita. It also shows that government has denied what mentioned in the Nawacita by not taking action on many forms of violations of freedom of opinion and expression, related with the discourse of the past human rights violations cases. Instead establishing a democratic situation, government in the other hand supports the repressive practice conducted by various groups, including security forces.

Therefore, to celebrate International Day for the Right to the Truth, Institute Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) recommends the government to make the day as the momentum to evaluate President Joko Widodo’s promise in NawaCita, which is to “solve the past human rights violations cases thoroughly and fairly,” with these following steps:

First, conduct official remorse on various past human rights cases and follow up with numbers of resolution agenda, including create Presidential Ad-hoc Committee for Human Rights Violations Resolution, clarification of history in order to reveal the truth, apologize, as well as  provide effective recovery to the victims or their families.

Second, ensure the Attorney General to work in accordance with the mandate given to him by referring rule of law principles, in order to follow up various investigations results on various alleged human rights violations conducted by National Commission on Human Rights

Third, institutionalize the policy on the resolution of the past human rights violations cases by fully referring to the principles mentioned in the either The 1945 Constitution or international human rights law, and does not only have the judicial or non-judicial options to resolve the case, but also resolve it thoroughly.

Fourth, ensure the right to feel secure and sustainability of having freedom of expression and various initiatives to reveal the truth which is suggested independently by the community, including victims which would be an important social capital in the resolution agenda.

Jakarta, 24 March 2016