Truth and Reconciliation Commission Discussions Held in Aceh

Four conflict victims giving testimony during a discussion in Banda Aceh, 24 October 2013. [NH PHOTO]

Banda Aceh, TAG –  Aceh is preparing to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to uncover human rights violations that occurred during decades of armed conflict in the province, and to ensure the sustainability of the peace that has reigned since 2005.

A bylaw to establish the TRC has been drafted by the local parliament (DPRA), and legislators hope to see the commission begin work early in 2014.
DPRA member Ghufran Zainal Abidin said the TRC is not meant to open old wounds, but to fulfil the rights of victims of the conflict to truth, justice and reparations.
"Not least important is straightening out our nation's historical record so that similar incidents are not repeated in the future, and forming a culture of that values human rights," Ghufran told Khabar Southeast Asia in an interview.
A draft of the law obtained by Khabar states that the TRC will reveal the truth about human rights violations committed during the uprising of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) between 1976 and 2005.
That year, the Indonesian government and GAM leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Helsinki, Finland to end the armed conflict that killed more than 25,000 people, mostly civilians.
Over the years, local, national and international human rights groups have reported that serious human rights violations were committed during Aceh's conflict by both security forces and GAM guerrillas, including murders, mass shootings, kidnappings, torture and rape.
"Aceh's TRC would help achieve reconciliation between the perpetrators of human rights violations, both individuals and institutions, and victims, and recommend comprehensive reparations in keeping with universal standards for the rights of victims," the draft stated.
Nurzahri, another DPRA member involved in discussion of the TRC bylaw, said the draft has been completed in substance and principle. However, at the request of human rights activists, a vote has been postponed for two months so it can be discussed with victims before approval.
"Hopefully, there will be constructive input from the victims so we can perfect the draft. That way, it can be ratified in December, so that early in 2014, the TRC can start its work," Nurzahri told Khabar.
The TRC's duty will be to uncover the truth and provide recommendations pertaining to both perpetrators and victims. "It is also possible that the TRC will request information from policy makers about why human rights violations and violence occurred in Aceh," he said.
"Violence committed by GAM members will also be addressed and families of victims will be compensated. That way, the sustainability of peace in Aceh can be assured."
Victims and human rights groups are welcoming the steps to form the TRC, which they have been fighting for since 2007.
Samsul Bahri, spokesman for the Community of Victims of Human Rights Violations in North Aceh, said he hopes the TRC bylaw pays proper attention to the rights and needs of victims.
"We were the ones who felt the immediate impact of the conflict between the Indonesian security forces and GAM," he said. "Victims of the conflict want justice for what happened to their families."
Samsul's uncle, a village leader in North Aceh, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in 2003. One of his cousins was shot to death in front of his house in 2002.
Destika Gilang Lestari, co-ordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) in Aceh, said the TRC draft needs improvements so that it can accommodate the hopes and expectations of all communities when the commission begins its work.
"The draft needs to be very clear about protections for witnesses and victims, for example" she said, adding: "The Aceh TRC is quite important because it means the state will record what happened in Aceh during the conflict. Although there have been eight years of peace in Aceh, there has been no official recognition by the state of the human rights violations that occurred."[]
Truth and Reconciliation Commission Discussions Held in Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission Discussions Held in Aceh Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on November 06, 2013 Rating: 5

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