Jakarta, Dec 11 (EFE).- Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo on Wednesday acknowledged the “gross human rights violations” that occurred in the country, including during the Suharto dictatorship between 1967 and 1998.
“With a clear mind and an honest heart, I, as the Head of State of the Republic of Indonesia, acknowledge that serious human rights violations did occur in various incidents,” the president said.
Widodo made these remarks after receiving a report from a truth and reconciliation commission, established in August to investigate 13 cases of serious human rights violations.
Widodo, serving his second and last term, cited a number of incidents, including the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists during the Suharto dictatorship, an anti-Communist purge in the 1960s, and the abuses by the armed forces against the indigenous population in the Papua province.
Human rights violations under Suharto went largely uninvestigated and unpunished.
“I and the government are trying to recover the rights of the victims in a fair and wise manner, without negating a judicial settlement,” Widodo added, while expressing his deep sympathy and empathy for the victims and their families.
Although Widodo’s acknowledgement of the rights abuses is a departure from previous administrations’ requests to forget the past despite not being the first president to recognize them, the victims are still seeking justice for the alleged crimes against them and lament the stagnation of the cases in the courts.
The commission was created through a decree issued by Widodo, whose 2014 election campaign included a promise to resolve the country’s past human rights abuses.
General Suharto came to power in 1967 after ousting President Sukarno amid civil unrest in the country, ushering in a centralized and militarized authoritarian regime known as the “New Order.”
With the initial support of Western countries at the height of the Cold War, Suharto committed human rights abuses and gained a reputation as one of the world’s most corrupt leaders, something that is reflected in the fortune his family holds today.
Suharto passed away on Jan. 27, 2008 in a hospital in Jakarta due to liver and kidney problems. EFE