Human Rights Watch World Report 2001 - Indonesia
|Publisher||Human Rights Watch|
|Publication Date||1 December 2000|
|Cite as||Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch World Report 2001 - Indonesia , 1 December 2000, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8df20.html [accessed 11 December 2013]|
|Comments||This report, Human Rights Watch's eleventh annual review of human rights practices around the globe, covers developments in seventy countries. It is released in advance of Human Rights Day, December 10, 2000, and describes events from November 1999 through October 2000.|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Indonesia lurched further toward democracy during the year, but serious regional conflicts, a weak legal system, and delicate civil-military relations posed ongoing obstacles to the protection of human rights. While most of the country continued to benefit from increased civil and political liberties, three areas wracked by conflict Papua, Aceh, and the Moluccas continued to experience widespread violations. The government failed adequately to protect the hundreds of thousands of people displaced in Aceh and the Moluccas as well as East Timorese refugees in West Timor. Efforts of human rights defenders and some government officials to hold perpetrators of past serious abuses to account produced some results, but huge obstacles remained to bringing senior culpable leaders to justice.
Human Rights Developments
For the first time in more than four decades, Indonesians had both a freely elected parliament and a democratically chosen president. On October 20, 1999, the People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat, MPR) chose Abdurrahman Wahid as the country's fourth president in a cliffhanger vote. Megawati Soekarnoputri, head of the Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia-Perjuangang, PDIP) became vice-president. The jockeying for power among the most influential parties characterized domestic politics for much of the year, with Wahid struggling to outmaneuver the opposition. In August, unhappy parliamentarians forced him to issue Presidential Decree 121, turning over some of his administrative tasks to Megawati, but a cabinet reshuffle later the same month showed he was very much in charge. Throughout the year, Wahid proved strong on the symbolism of human rights and weaker on the implementation of safeguards.
From the outset, although he retained several senior military officers as ministers, Wahid began to assert civilian control over the military. He appointed a civilian as defense minister and, in February 2000, removed General Wiranto from his Cabinet pending the outcome of investigations into Wiranto's role in the 1999 East Timor violence. On March 11, President Wahid formally disbanded the hated internal security organization, Bakorstanas. In April, commander-in-chief Admiral Widodo endorsed the concept of civilian supremacy and announced that the military no longer claimed a social and political role. In a number of highly publicized cases, generals who had previously enjoyedabsolute impunity were questioned by investigators in connection with past military atrocities. Through its nationwide network of territorial commands, however, the military's dominant role in local government continued and, in August, the MPR approved a decree allowing the armed forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia,TNI) to retain a bloc of appointed seats in that body through 2009.
Regional armed conflicts continued to pose a challenge to the democratic transition and undermine human rights. In Aceh, disaffection with the central government showed itself both in the form of a strong civil society-based movement for a referendum on Aceh's political status and in an armed rebel group, the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM). Indonesian security forces made little distinction between the two. While army, police, and GAM were all responsible for abuses, including extrajudicial executions of civilians, the violations were disproportionately on the government side. A special government-appointed commission of inquiry into past violations in Aceh produced five priority cases for trial, but not one of them from the worst period of abuses, 1989 to 1992. On May 17, 2000, twenty-four soldiers and one civilian were sentenced to between eight and a half and ten years in prison for the 1999 massacre of a Muslim teacher, Teungku Bantaqiah, and fifty-six of his followers, but the commander who gave the orders went into hiding as investigations were underway and was not apprehended.
On May 12, the Wahid government, through the intervention of the Henri Dunant Institute in Geneva, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with GAM, agreeing to a three-month "humanitarian pause" in the conflict. The agreement was controversial inside Indonesia, as some saw it as the first step toward legitimizing the rebels. Abuses diminished with the agreement but did not stop. In September, it was extended until January 2001.
On August 5, one of Aceh's most prominent human rights defenders, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, founder and director of the New York-based rights group International Forum for Aceh, vanished while on a visit to Indonesia's third largest city, Medan. His body, showing signs of torture, was found with four other corpses in an unmarked grave on September 3. Jafar was the third well-known Acehnese activist to have "disappeared" in Medan. On January 24, an Acehnese parliamentarian went missing from his home; his body was found several days later. On June 3, a former student activist and spokesman for GAM, Ismail Syahputra, vanished. No information about his whereabouts had emerged by mid-September. On September 16, Safwan Idris, a prominent university rector in Banda Aceh who had supported a referendum, was shot and killed at his home. While the army was widely blamed in all of the above cases, there was no hard evidence as of October to indicate who was responsible.
A civilian pro-independence movement gathered strength during the year in Papua, formerly Irian Jaya. President Wahid offered the name change on January 1, 2000 to signal a change in policy toward the rebellious province. (The name change had not been approved by parliament by the end of the year.) A month earlier, tens of thousands of Papuans had celebrated the thirty-eighth anniversary of "West Papuan independence" in ceremonies throughout the province, the first time that such coordinated pro-independence demonstrations were permitted. In a compromise with authorities, both the Indonesian and West Papuan flags were raised in the December 1 ceremonies. When demonstrators in Timika, on Papua's south coast, refused to take down a West Papuan flag flying in a church courtyard the day after the ceremonies, however, security forces fired into an angry crowd, wounding sixteen. Tension and conflict over flag raisings continued throughout 2000. Major clashes between civilians and security forces claimed the lives of three pro-independence youths in Nabire in late February and early March. Three more independence supporters were killed by government forces in Sorong on August 22.
On June 3, in Jayapura, the Papuan capital, a National Congress of leaders from throughout the province declared the desire of the Papuan people to separate from Indonesia. Papuan leaders repeatedly expressed their commitment to pursuing independence through peaceful means, but civilian defense "task forces" (satuan tugas or satgas) grew in size and importance throughout the year. Some such groups received Indonesian military support, leading many to draw parallels with the army-backed militias in East Timor in 1999; other groups were set up by pro-independence Papuans.
The conflict that produced the most civilian casualties, however, was not a rebellion against the center but rather a civil war in the Moluccan islands between Christians and Muslims. Exact figures on casualties were difficult to obtain, let alone verify, but estimates put the toll from October 1999 to September 2000 at over 5,000 dead. The conflict had erupted in 1999 in Ambon, the product of elite rivalries, a delicate communal balance upset by in-migration from other islands, and a changing socioeconomic structure. By 2000, the conflict had spread to the North Moluccan islands of Ternate, Tidore, and Halmehera, and continued to engulf Ambon, Ceram, Buru, Saparua and other islands of the central Moluccan archipelago.
In May, thousands of volunteers for "holy war forces," or laskar jihad, arrived in Ambon from elsewhere in Indonesia, primarily Java, to strengthen the Muslim side, and attacks on Christian villages increased. On June 27, President Wahid ordered a state of civil emergency imposed in the two provinces of Maluku (Ambon and surrounding islands) and Maluku Utara (the North Moluccas). By mid-September, the latter was fairly calm, but there was no end in sight to fighting around Ambon. Civilian and military authorities in Indonesia, sensitive to the loss of East Timor and the nationalist backlash it engendered from a wide range of politically powerful groups, rejected any notion of outside assistance in resolving the conflict. While it appealed for humanitarian aid for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people, it also obstructed delivery of that aid. Groups inside and outside Indonesia also faulted the government for failing to ensure the neutrality of troops sent to stop the fighting and for failing to stop the dispatch of laskar jihad forces, although the police argued that as they were not armed when they boarded passenger ships for Ambon, the government had no legal means of stopping them. Critics also pointed to the ineffective interdiction of weapons bound for Ambon and a failure to protect the rights of the displaced.
Treatment of internally displaced persons (IDPs) was a major issue during the year, with close to 400,000 displaced by the Moluccan conflict alone. The eruption in April of a separate Christian-Muslim conflict in Poso, Central Sulawesi, which had first emerged in a 1998 fight over a local political appointment, left at least 200 dead and an estimated 60,000 people temporarily displaced. In Aceh, the number of persons displaced by the conflict ebbed and flowed, but tens of thousands fled their homes over the course of the year, many in the face of violent police and military "sweeps" for suspected rebels. Thousands of non-Acehnese immigrants fled the province, many after having been threatened by rebels.
More than 170,000 East Timorese returned home from West Timor during the year, but more than 100,000 remained, many having been forcibly expelled during the post-referendum violence in East Timor in September 1999. Many remained under the control of militia leaders whom Indonesian authorities chose not to disarm or in any way challenge. Militia control over the refugee camps of Tuabukan and Noelbaki, outside Kupang, was particularly strong; these camps also housed East Timorese members of the police and army and their families. On August 13, after a series of militia incursions from West Timor into East Timor, the Indonesian government bowed to international pressure andannounced that it would close the camps, offering the East Timorese there a choice between resettlement in Indonesia or return to East Timor. The decision was cautiously welcomed by the international community, but nothing happened. The level of militia intimidation in these and other camps was high, directed not just against refugees wishing to return but also against the staff of agencies such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
From August 22 to 29, UNHCR temporarily closed down operations in West Timor after three of its staff were injured in an attack. Despite renewed promises from the Indonesian military that it would provide protection, three UNHCR workers were killed on September 6 in an attack by a mob that had gathered for the funeral of a notorious pro-Indonesia militia commander, Olivio Mendonca Moruk. International outrage prompted efforts at disarmament. Military and police organized searches in major camps and confiscated a few dozen firearms and hundreds of homemade guns. Even militia leaders acknowledged that they were retaining weapons, however, and, at this writing, there had been no new arrests on weapons charges or any evidence of a serious effort to identify the source of the large quantities of ammunition used by militias making incursions into East Timor.
Efforts to revamp Indonesia's corrupt and discredited judiciary made slow headway with the selection of sixteen new Supreme Court justices in September, but the administration failed to put forward a plan for systematic overhaul of the courts. Corruption proceedings against former President Soeharto held the spotlight for much of the year until the case was dismissed on September 28 on the grounds that Soeharto was unfit to stand trial. Public demands for justice for past army abuses in Aceh, Papua, Lampung, Tanjung Priok, and East Timor remained strong, but the government dithered in taking the necessary measures for prosecution. To get around the dysfunctional court system, plans were made for new human rights courts to hear cases involving gross abuses, but the enabling legislation was bogged down in parliament for much of the year and had not been passed as of October. In August, the MPR enacted a constitutional amendment, after heavy lobbying by generals, barring "retroactive" laws. As a result, many Indonesian legal scholars concluded that individuals responsible for orchestrating past atrocities could only be charged with ordinary criminal offenses and not with international crimes such as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On September 1, Indonesian prosecutors formally named nineteen individuals, fifteen of them army and police officers, as suspects in the 1999 East Timor crimes. Although this was a long-overdue first step, advisors to the attorney general said that investigators had not even begun to unearth the kind of evidence needed for chain-of-command convictions. General Wiranto, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian armed forces at the time, was not on the list.
On a morning television show on March 14, President Wahid asked for forgiveness for the 1965-67 massacre of suspected members of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI), and for the role of his own organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, in the killings. He also called for repeal of a 1966 decree, TAP MPRS No.XXV, that instituted a pattern of discrimination against families of suspected PKI followers down to the third generation. The President's call, however, was greeted with noisy street protests from some Muslim groups and, in August, the MPR set aside the proposal, leaving the 1966 decree in effect.
Defending Human Rights
Human rights groups continued to be at the center of legal reform and justice efforts. Independent human rights lawyers, including Munir of the Commission for Disappeared Persons and Victims of Violence, played a key role in strengthening and professionalizing the work of the investigative team for East Timor put together by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas). On January 31, the Komnas team issued a hard-hitting report on the 1999 violence. Other human rights lawyers, including Ifdhal Kasim of the Institute for Research on Public Adovcacy (Elsam), were actively involved in drafting legislation on human rights courts and the first draft of a bill for a proposed "Truth and Reconciliation Commission." Still others were appointed to a team of experts advising the attorney general on the East Timor prosecutions.
Komnas also monitored the efforts of the attorney general and military courts on other leading human rights cases throughout the year. In June, Komnas was widely criticized for a weak report on 1984 army violence in Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, and for doing little to document ongoing abuses in Aceh and Papua. In October, Komnas issued new report on the Tanjung Priok case, naming twenty-three suspects, reportedly including high-ranking generals.
In Aceh, Papua, and the Moluccas, human rights defenders operated at great risk. The worst conditions were in Aceh, where assassinations were commonplace and perpetrators seldom identified. On January 31, Sukardi, a volunteer with the Bamboo Thicket Institute (Yayasan Rumpun Bambu Indonesia), a local environmental and human rights group based in Aceh, "disappeared"; his naked and bullet-riddled corpse was found on February 1. Dozens of other activists and local humanitarian aid workers were beaten and threatened, apparently because security forces suspected them of supporting the rebels.
The murder of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, described above, again put a spotlight on the dangers faced by human rights defenders.
The Role of the International Community
In general, the international community was strongly supportive of the Wahid administration but deeply concerned about the regional conflicts, both in terms of the human cost as well as the impact on Indonesia's democratization policies and long-term political stability.
Important U.N. concerns in 2000 also included protection of refugees in West Timor, justice for the 1999 scorched earth destruction of East Timor, and efforts to mitigate the impact of continuing economic crisis on Indonesia's poor.
On January 31, 2000, a U.N. commission of inquiry issued a report concluding that the systematic and large-scale nature of the East Timor crimes warranted the establishment of an international criminal tribunal. The U.N. Security Council, however, declined to establish such a court, deferring instead to the Indonesian government's stated intention to bring those responsible to justice. In a cover letter accompanying release of the international commission's report, Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that he would "closely monitor progress" of the Indonesian effort to ensure that it was a "credible response in accordance with international human rights principles." In early August, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson met with victims of the violence in East Timor as well as with Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, reiterating that the U.N. would call for an international war crimes tribunal if Jakarta failed to bring the perpetrators of the Timor violence to trial.
The Security Council and Secretary-General also denounced continuing violence in West Timor. In a February visit to Indonesia, Annan complained to President Wahid about continuing harassment by militias in the refugee camps. After a Nepalese soldier serving with U.N. peacekeepers was shot and killed on August 11 by militias who had crossed the border into East Timor, the second peacekeeper killed in as many months, Annan issued a statement calling on Indonesia to take effective measures to control the militias and stop the incursions. In a unanimous resolution on September 8, the Security Council condemned the murder of the three U.N. refugee workers in West Timor and insisted that the Indonesian government take immediate steps to disarm and disband the militias believed to be responsible.
Relations between Indonesia and China warmed following President Wahid's December 1999 visit to Beijing. Despite prior visits to other countries, Wahid called the December trip his first "formal" state visit to highlight the importance of the relationship. Wahid sought and obtained Chinese statements in support of the territorial integrity of Indonesia and against separatist movements in Aceh and Papua. In July, Indonesia lifted onerous visa requirements to make it easier and cheaper for Chinese citizens to visit Indonesia. Also in July, the two countries signed a bilateral agreement promising mutual legal assistance in fighting transnational crime.
Indonesia lobbied successfully to keep any reference to the continued bloodshed in the Moluccas out of the joint communique issued at the end of the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok in July, although instability in Indonesia was discussed by the ministers. Under the leadership of President Wahid, who had requested a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi during a visit to Myanmar in 1999, Indonesia had been expected to move a step closer toward an ASEAN foreign policy of "flexible engagement," as recommended by Thailand and the Philippines. Instead, its actions hardened ASEAN's existing "non-intervention" policy.
In its bilateral relations with Indonesia, which received U.S. $1.6 billion in loans and grants in 1999 (latest figures published by the foreign ministry), Japan emphasized support for President Wahid's democratization efforts and for preserving the country's territorial integrity as it addressed regional violence. In April, Japan said it would reschedule $5.8 billion in Indonesian debt. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori met with Wahid when he came to Tokyo in April and again in early June at the time of former Prime Minister Obuchi's funeral, and urged a constructive solution to regional conflicts. Japan was also considering providing police training to Indonesia. But the foreign ministry was reluctant to raise specific human rights concerns with Jakarta, or to send observers to trials in Aceh, though it did provide assistance for people displaced by the Aceh conflict. On October 18-19, Japan was scheduled to co-host with the World Bank the annual donor consultative conference for Indonesia.
Relations with Australia continued to be strained by Indonesian anger over Australia's role in East Timor and perceived slights to Jakarta in 1999, notwithstanding strong economic ties. Australia organized and commanded the International Force for East Timor (Interfet) that entered East Timor on September 20, 1999 to put an end to the militia violence. Australian troops were vilified in much of the Indonesian press. Although there were improvements in relations during the year, including increased ministerial contacts initiated by a January 24 meeting in Jakarta of Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and President Wahid, each setback in West Timor reopened the diplomatic rift. A long awaited visit by President Wahid to Canberra was postponed in October when leading Indonesian legislators spoke out against the trip.
On January 17, the E.U., noting with approval the democratic developments in Indonesia and the election of President Wahid, decided not to renew the sanctions imposed in September 1999 in the wake of the violence in East Timor, including a ban on arms shipments. The United Kingdom quickly resumed sales of Hawk jet fighters. The E.U. insisted, however, that its policy regarding arms exports would be governed by "strict implementation of the E.U. Code of Conduct" and that the E.U. would continue to monitor closely developments in Indonesia.
On February 2, the European Commission issued an important policy paper, "Developing Closer Relations between Indonesia and the European Union." It signaled the importance of human rights in those relations, calling promotion of those rights a prerequisite for democracy and sustainable development. The paper called for better delivery of justice, support for the Attorney-General's legal reform efforts, regular contacts with human rights organizations, and close cooperation with Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights. It noted the "slow progress" of refugee repatriation from West Timor and of Indonesia's own investigation into human rights violations in East Timor. The "enhanced" partnership was officially launched on June 14 in a meeting between Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab and E.U. foreign ministers. Chris Patten, External Affairs Commissioner, visited Indonesia at the end of May, raising concerns about obstacles to democratization and civilian supremacy; earlier in April, a delegation of members of the European Parliament went to East Timor and Indonesia. The European Parliament adopted a strong resolution on the Moluccas, urging Jakarta to permit international observers and allow NGOs free access. In September, the E.U. presidency issued a statement strongly condemning the deaths of UNHCR workers and continued insecurity in West Timor.
The E.U. consistently declared its support for Indonesian national integrity but urged dialogue as a means of resolving regional conflicts. It formally welcomed the May 12 M.O.U. ceasefire between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement, but distanced itself from the June 3 call of Papuan leaders for independence. On August 17, ECHO, the humanitarian aid office of the E.U., granted EUR $2 million to be spent, among other things, aiding displaced persons in the Moluccas and West Timor.
The third biannual Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), held in Seoul October 20-21, was dominated by the issue of North Korea, with the United Kingdom and Germany announcing they would establish diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, while France said that progress on human rights and security issues must take place as a precondition for diplomatic relations. The final communique said ASEM III participants would "promote and protect all human rights...and fundamental freedoms," language that was adopted over China's objections.
Five ambassadors representing the E.U. visited Ambon and the north Moluccas in Indonesia from October 12-14 to assess the human rights and humanitarian situation.
U.S. officials repeatedly and publicly expressed support for President Wahid but also spoke out strongly against the failure of the Indonesian military to rein in militias in West Timor and resolve the refugee crisis.
Early in the year, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright identified Indonesia as one of four priority emerging democracies for U.S. foreign policy. President Clinton welcomed Indonesian President Wahid to the White House shortly after Wahid assumed the Presidency, and numerous U.S. officials including secretaries of treasury, defense, and state, as well as U.N. Ambassador Holbrooke made high profile visits to the country. U.S. bilateral assistance to Indonesia was increased to U.S. $125 million. Priorities included judicial reform and justice for past gross abuses, improving civil-military relations, police training, and professionalizing national and local parliaments. Even as the U.S. stepped up its efforts to assist democratization, leading officials spoke out forcefully on the need to disarm and disband militias in West Timor, and for accountability for past military atrocities, including the 1999 violence in East Timor.
The Clinton Administration in late August lifted an eleven-month ban on commercial military sales to Indonesia, approving the sale of spare parts for C-130 transport planes just one week before three U.N. refugee aid workers were killed in West Timor. The ban originally had been imposed in response to the 1999 East Timor violence. Congressional restrictions remained in place on military training and direct U.S. military sales. U.S. Defense Secretary Cohen visited Jakarta in mid-September. Prior to his visit, he confirmed that the Pentagon had decided to "re-engage" with the Indonesian military, inviting officers to conferences and participating in joint humanitarian exercise, but that the U.S. would stop short of directly selling arms. The State Department strongly condemned the abduction and murder of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, urging at the highest levels a full investigation and prosecution, and supported the humanitarian pause in Aceh. Members of Congress expressed concern about the violence in the Moluccas; several House of Representatives members wrote to President Wahid in July urging him to invite international observers and humanitarian aid groups to the region and to prosecute members of the laskar jihad responsible for instigating new violence.
International Financial Institutions
In advance of the World Bank-convened annual consultative group conference in Tokyo in October, the president of the World Bank took the extraordinary step of sending a personal letter to Wahid urging his intervention in West Timor and warning that donor commitments could be affected. The donors pledged a total of $4.8 billion to support the Indonesian government's budget, plus an additional $530 million for Indonesian NGOs. Several donors addressed the government's response to crises in West Timor, Maluku, Aceh, and West Papua. The U.S. said it would condition its aid on Indonesia's full compliance with the UN Security Council's resolution on West Timor.
In 2000, the World Bank had outstanding commitments of $ 5.5 billion to Indonesia; of those funds, $ 2.8 billion had yet to be disbursed as of mid-September. In fiscal year 1999, the World Bank had said it would provide another $ 2.7 billion in future loans. Meanwhile, a new letter of intent was signed by the government with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September, opening the way for a package of U.S. $400 million in loans. In June, the IMF had approved a $372 million loan after it reviewed Indonesia's compliance with fiscal and structural reforms mandated by the IMF. Overall the IMF had offered $5 billion in assistance to Indonesia, contingent on progress in its reform efforts.
Relevant Human Rights Watch Reports
Forced Expulsions to West Timor and the Refugee Crisis, 11/99
Human Rights and Pro-Independence Actions in Papua, 1999-2000, 5/00