NEWS Indonesian President Joko Widodo says he regrets the country’s bloody past as victims demand justice

Indonesian President Joko Widodo says he regrets the country's bloody past as victims demand justice

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday expressed deep regret over gross human rights violations in Indonesia’s turbulent post-colonial era, dating back to the mass killings of communists and suspected sympathizers in the mid-1960s.

According to some historians and activists, at least half a million people were killed in the violence that began in late 1965, when the military purged communists they said were plotting a coup.

A million or more people were imprisoned on suspicion of being communists during a crackdown in which General Suharto ousted Indonesian independence leader President Sukarno in 1967 and went on to rule the world’s largest Muslim-majority country Up to 30 years.

Widodo, more commonly known as Widodo, recently received a report from a team he commissioned last year to investigate Indonesia’s bloody history, promising to tackle the issue when he first came to power in 2014.

He cited 11 other human rights incidents between 1965 and 2003, including the killing and abduction of students by security forces during protests against Suharto’s dictatorship in the late 1990s.

“As head of state, I acknowledge that serious human rights violations did occur in many incidents,” Widodo said.

“I deeply regret that these violations occurred.”

Some 1,200 people were also killed in riots in 1998, often targeting the Chinese community, a minority sometimes resented for their perceived wealth.

Jokowi said the government would seek to restore victims’ rights “without denying judicial solutions,” but he did not specify how.

He also cited human rights abuses in troubled areas of Papua and during an insurgency in Aceh province.

Victims, their relatives and rights groups have questioned whether Jokowi’s government is serious about holding anyone accountable for past atrocities.

Activists point out that the Attorney General’s Office, which investigates human rights abuses, routinely dismisses such cases.

“It is important to me … that the president guarantees that serious human rights violations will not occur in the future by bringing the alleged perpetrators to trial in court,” said Maria Catarina Sumarsih, a retired public servant. said his son Wawan was shot dead by an injured student in 1998 while helping others.

Amnesty International’s Usman Hamid said victims deserved compensation and that serious past crimes needed to be resolved “through judicial means”.

Vinasso, coordinator of an organization that cares for survivors of the 1965 bloodshed, said that while the president’s acknowledgment wasn’t enough, it could open up space for discussion about the Holocaust.

“If President Joko Widodo is serious about past human rights abuses, he should first order the government to work hard to investigate these mass killings, document mass graves, find their families, match graves with their families, and establish a decision on what to do next what to do,” said Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Jokowi’s government has come under fire for its commitment to human rights after parliament approved a controversial penal code last month that critics say undermines civil liberties.

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