Indonesia: Two Decades of Addressing Past Human Rights Violations

A first article for a special issue on Indonesia post-reformasi has just been published.

Kate McGregor

“Shifting from International to ‘Indonesian’ Justice Measures: Two Decades of Addressing Past Human Rights ViolationsShifting from International to ‘Indonesian’ Justice Measures: Two Decades of Addressing Past Human Rights Violations” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2019.1584636) is authored by Katharine McGregor of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at The University of Melbourne, Australia and Ken Setiawan of Melbourne University’s Asia Institute.

The abstract states:

Ken Setawan

What do Indonesia’s democratisation efforts look like when examined from the lens of human rights? Using the 1965 violence as a case study this article analyses human rights and justice reform after the end of the Suharto regime in 1998. We argue that despite the initial push to adopt international human rights principles and transitional justice mechanisms in Indonesian law, human rights reforms have stagnated. Explanations for this include the weakness of the human rights movement preceding 1998 and efforts by parties implicated in past violence to block justice initiatives. Through a close analysis of recent efforts during the Joko Widodo presidency to address past human rights abuses we highlight a further shift away from support for international justice measures towards what have been labelled “Indonesian” justice measures. Although there is certainly a place for the use of culture-specific justice mechanisms, we argue that these new initiatives are instead underpinned by an instrumentalisation of ideas of culture to shield perpetrators from accountability. By highlighting the history of the use of ideas of culture to justify authoritarianism and reject so-called liberal values, we demonstrate why the latest trends are further evidence of an illiberal turn in Indonesia.

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