Aug 19, 2015

Acheh: Victims of Armed Conflict Pressure Indonesia for Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Achenese victims of the 1976-2005 conflict that took 12,000 lives are pushing the Indonesian Government to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, guaranteed in the peace agreement signed in Helsinki in 2005. One decade later, many Ache are still searching for the disappeared and the feeling of injustice is widespread.  Considered as a fundamental step in conflict reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission would “unearth what truly happened in Aceh” and to “educate future generations”. Despite growing pressure, the Indonesian Constitutional Court has annulled the law that would establish the Commission. 

Below is an article published by Channels News Asia

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia: Victims of the armed conflict in the Indonesian province of Aceh are demanding an explanation for the violence and killings that plagued the region for three decades from 1976.

They have pressed authorities to set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as promised in the peace agreement signed by the Free Aceh Movement and the Indonesian government in Helsinki ten years ago.

An estimated 12,000 people were killed during the bloody struggle that ended in August 2005.

Acehnese women are among many looking for answers. Many of them lost their husbands, children or family members, with some going missing and others killed.

“I am keen to know why an innocent person was shot at,” says Madam Nurfanidar, whose husband was shot dead in front of her. “I don’t know the answer 'til today.”

Some of the women have been seeking closure for more than five years.

“Eventually I found my husband at the hospital mortuary. I asked whether there was such a person. I checked the register and found my husband’s name, Jamaludin," said Madam Husni, the wife of a victim.

“His photo matched with the one taken of the body. I confirmed it was my husband. That was three months after he was abducted.”

Thirteen years later, she still does not know why her husband was abducted, and killed.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which promised to provide answers as part of the peace agreement, has yet to be set up.

“From the onset we’ve been in consultation with the central government. But we’ve been told countless times by the central government that the national law on Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been annulled by the Constitutional Court. ” said Abdullah Salleh, Chairman of the Aceh Parliamentary Commission.

However, because the province enjoys special autonomy status, he said he believes there is a way out of the current legal impasse.

“We can possibly continue to push for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Aceh if there's also political will from the central government,” he said.

“It should not be viewed as a process of establishing who is wrong; who is right,” said Hendra Saputra, the Coordinator of KontasAceh, the Aceh Commission for the Disappearances and Victims of Violence.

“But it is a process to unearth what truly happened in Aceh. It is an education for our future generation.”