Saturday, April 16, 2011

Session IV: Papua and Aceh

Kimberly Twarog: Gendering Trauma Recovery in Aceh, 1976-2010

Kimberly Twarog’s lecture focused on performance and dance as a way to address the trauma the Acehnese faced during the conflict and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Specifically, she looked at the gender trauma that women in Aceh endured, including sexual violence and torture as hostages. The women were less outspoken about abuse than men, largely due to the stigma and lack of witness protection for victims of sexual violence. Ms. Twarog also commented that sexual violence occurred not only due to the conflict, but also when people were forced to tent camps after the Tsunami. Furthermore, the introduction of Sharia Law in Aceh allowed authorities to persecute women based on their appearance, reduced their participation in the government (despite a thirty percent quota), and generally marginalized women in Acehnese society.

From this framework, Ms. Twarog discussed the different performance and trauma recovery programs by international NGOs, local NGOs, and individual artists. First, she examined the UNESCO Rise Above the Tide Program (RAT) that taught music and dance to children to allow them to share their traumatic experiences. While she commended their use of local traditions, she noted their program lacked longevity (only six months), the program only discussed the tsunami and not the conflict, and the teachers and most of the students were male. Next, she looked at two local NGOs, Taloe and Tikar Pandan, that used traditional performing arts to discuss the conflict and tsunami. These local programs lacked funding, used largely male performers, and few girls participated; however, they did address both the tsunami and the conflict, the programs lasted longer than UNESCO, and Tikar opened up programs to the whole community. Finally, Ms. Twarog looked at one individual performer, known as PM TOH, who performs about events in Aceh and around the world. He created a safe space away from the violence to allow everyone, including women, to express themselves and relieve some of the burdens in their lives. She noted that while women can participate in performances, they are often reluctant because they face criticism.

Ms. Twarog concluded with a few recommendations looking forward including: more female staff and performers, more inclusive activities (adults as well as children), efforts to develop and sustain arts in education in Aceh, and greater attention to gender trauma and identity.

Session IV, continued: Papua and Aceh

Haris Azhar: Transitional Justice in Aceh, Moving Nowhere

Haris Azhar, the Coordinator of KontraS, spoke about what has been done to address human rights violations in in Aceh following the thirty-year conflict between Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (“GAM”) and the Indonesian Security Forces. Azhar noted two moments of transition: the reform era that began in 1998, and the interventions that took place following the tsunami in 2005. Regarding the first transition, Azhar described several steps that were taken to account for the conflict, including public apologies and the establishment of the Independent Commission for Investigation of Violence in Aceh. However, there was also a notable setback during this period, which was the imposition of martial law during the Megawati era.

Turning to the post-tsunami era, Azhar discussed six objectives of the Helsinki Peace Agreement and the Law of Governance of Aceh (LoGA), both of which were passed in 2005. Collectively, these two legal responses provided for: recognition of Aceh political freedom and identity; recognition of Aceh's economic rights, including the right to enter into agreements with international entities and the right to 70% of its natural resources; recommendations regarding the rule of law and legislation; a disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program; a recommendation that members of military be tried in civilian court if they commit a public crime; and the release of (most) GAM political prisoners. More specifically, the recommendations regarding rule of law included a recommendation that Indonesia ratify the ICCPR and ICESCR (which was accomplished in 2006), and a recommendation to establish a human rights court and TRC in Aceh. The human rights court would only address future human rights violations, though the TRC would engage the past. However, neither the human rights court nor the TRC have been established.

Azhar concluded by commenting that the proposed remedies have focused on the perpetrators rather than the victims. There is still not political or legal recognition of past abuses, and victims’ voices are largely absent from political decision-making processes. Jakarta’s commitment to establishing a human rights court and to reforming the military has proven weak. Furthermore, as a result of weak government institutions, people in Aceh have started to “have their own justice, their own truth,” which is apparent in such actions as the digging up of mass graves and the suit filed against Exxon in the U.S. under the Alien Tort Claims Act.

Session IV: Papua and Aceh

Neles Tebay: Indigenous Papuans’ efforts for ending conflict with Indonesia

Neles Tebay’s presentation provided a context of the Papua/Indonesian conflict. The invasion of Indonesia into Papua began in 1963 and is still ongoing. As a result, numerous human rights violations were inflicted and continue to this day. The basic framework presents two diverging views from the warring countries and Mr. Tebay fears until an understanding is reached the conflict will persist. Papua views itself as an occupied country struggling for self-determination against a colonial power whereas Indonesia maintains their rightful annex of Papua.

Additionally, Mr. Tebay noted that the Indonesian political policies are directed at preventing any separatist movements. As such, Indonesia has implemented policies to isolate Papua from the rest of world and refuses to allow any foreigners including journalists, researchers, and activists from entering the country. In contrast, Papuans judge every action towards their country by Indonesia by their own cultural values including: abundance of life, the prospect of leaders and laws that produce prosperity, community life (including the living, the dead, nature, and natural resources), and the inherently unequal relationship between Indonesia and Papua. Mr. Tebay reminded the conference that Papua is not only interested in political freedoms, but these cultural ideals as well.

Furthermore, Papuans have strongly pursued self-determination since 1998 by establishing the Free Papua Movement, jungle militias, and attacks on security stations in Papua. The four issues in which these groups seek redress include: self-determination in 1969, human rights violations, neglect of socio-economic and social rights, and the marginalization and discrimination of the indigenous population. Lastly, Mr. Tebay expressed the desire of Papuans to shift from violence to peaceful discourse with the Indonesian government. The Papuan opposition reached out to the Indonesian government, but is still waiting for this reciprocation in Jakarta.

Session III (Part II): Indonesia 1965-66

Bradley Simpson: Documenting Mass Violence: History, Truth, and Accountability

Bradley Simpson addressed the essential function of historians to “narrow the range of permissible lies.” To accomplish this gargantuan task he explained his work at the National Security Archive in Washington D.C. where they use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to gain access to documents in an attempt to make them available to public. Despite the inherit drawbacks of these FOIA requests that can take between six months to over fifteen years, if ever, to retrieve documents, this is a unique resource available in the United States. This point ties to Mr. Simpson’s larger assertion that historians in the U.S, and the rest of the West, can play an essential role to assist colleagues in countries where such access does not exist.

Furthermore, beyond providing documents to historians and groups such as the CAVR attempting to engage in truth and reconciliation, these documents broaden the scope of the events that took place in their respective countries. He indicated that in many countries who address transitional justice through truth and reconciliation there is a tendency to limit the conflicts to local and national events. Here, such a view minimizes the U.S. and West’s involvement that allowed for Indonesia to invade and occupy neighboring territories. He mentioned examples of documents pointing to the inventories of U.S. ammunition provided to Indonesia and U.S. documents stating that the 1969 Indonesian annexation of West Papua was not a free choice, the official narrative, and to the contrary the vast majority of the population wanted independence.

Mr. Bradley concluded by discussing the recent Freedom of Information Act in Indonesia and how NGO’s and civil society can pressure the government to obtain these documents and, perhaps, assist the Indonesian Parliament to start a comprehensive Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Thus, he argued a collaborative effort between historians in the U.S. providing documents to Indonesian colleagues combined with their own FOIA requests may disrupt the traditional Indonesian government narrative and finally provide a more accurate account of Indonesia’s history.


Session III (Part II): Indonesia 1965-66

Baskara T. Wardaya: Providing Space for the Voiceless: Transitional Justice and Narratives on the 1965 Tragedy

Baskara T. Wardaya, a professor at Universitas Sanata Dharma, began his presentation with a quote from Mary Zurbuchen’s work:

Voices of ordinary citizens from all over the archipelago need to be given space in which to make their essential contribution toward understanding and resolution of this key episode [1965] in the Indonesian national story within local context.

Wardaya explained that the quote illuminated the need to look at the impact of the 1965 events outside of the parameters established by official narratives – in particular, by emphasizing the experiences and perspectives of survivors and their families. Wardaya then provided an overview of what took place in 1965, and noted that the official narrative created by Suharto was very linear and localized guilt with the PKI. This narrative prevailed throughout the Suharto regime, and was elaborated with details to legitimize the repression and atrocities perpetrated against the Indonesian people.

Wardaya described how this official narrative has perpetuated “silence and amnesia,” and that one way of disrupting this narrative is by telling the stories of victims and witnesses. In particular, Wardaya discussed the importance of understanding how these individuals perceive and cope with their circumstances, particularly in the face of ongoing marginalization and discrimination. He then provided examples from several victims he had interviewed, including one former prisoner who poignantly described the “obligation” she felt to speak up on behalf of not only herself, but her entire nation.

Session III (Part I): Indonesia 1965-66

Dahlia G. Setiyawan: Better Dead than Red? Suppression and Reconstruction of Surabaya's PKI

Dahlia G. Setiyawan related the theme of transitional justice to the symbolism, or lack thereof, embodied in cities. The particular city is Surabaya where mass detainment and killings occurred in 1965, yet despite monuments and plaques throughout the city commemorating the heroes of the Indonesian revolution there is no formal acknowledgement of these tragedies. As evidence of this Ms. Setiyawan discusses the story of the Mayor of Surabaya in 1964, Moerachman, who planned to erect a statue dedicated to the agricultural workers and after the purge in 1965 he was imprisoned and murdered and with him the monument, likely viewed as Marxist, vanished from the city’s history. In fact, the very existence of the Mayor himself is absent from the pictures of the other mayors displayed in city hall, as if that period of time and the PKI never existed.

She then turned to historical plaques on two former jails in Surabaya, Koblen and Kalisosok, which only states that this site is where the fighters for the Indonesian revolution where held with no mention of the later detentions and atrocities that occurred in 1965. Then Ms. Setiyawan explains the complete denial by municipal leaders to address this part of Surabaya’s history in part by the cities leaders desire to look forward and use its time and money to develop the city (seventeen malls!), but also the underlying social pressure to suppress the history of the PKI.

As a parallel example of how a city can celebrate its historic past while acknowledging the less savory events that occurred, though equally as much of the city’s history, Ms. Setiyawan suggests Philadelphia. The famed city of brotherly love and home to historic American Revolution sites such as the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia still addresses slavery and the race riots that took place evidenced in the cities' monuments and plaques. Therefore, Ms. Setiyawan suggests Surabaya strive to promote transparency by giving the public access to the cities archives that are now inaccessible, updating the cultural heritage sites to tell the entire history of Surabya, and acknowledging the missing historical figures. Perhaps, these recommendations will lead to soft transitional justice mechanisms such as truth and reconciliation, open dialogue, and historical accuracy.

Session III (Part I): Indonesia 1965-66

Mary Zurbuchen: Toward a Social History of Indonesia's 1965 Upheaval

Mary Zurbuchen, a director with the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program, discussed the “inhabited absence” around the events that took place in Indonesia in 1965 and the challenge of characterizing collective memory around those events. While the 1965 events were the foundational violence of the New Order, Zurbuchen questioned whether those events have become merged among younger generations with a more generalized awareness of the abuses that took place throughout the Suharto era.

Up until now, Zurbuchen noted, the emphasis in the public sphere has been on “communist treachery” as the root cause of the violence. There has been no official expression of national regret, and the formal truth-seeking processes have been flawed and insufficient. While there have been a wide range of valuable efforts to understand the 1965 events through oral history, performing arts and documentaries, Zurbuchen observed that there are limitations to personal and anecdotal accounts. First, every year there are fewer individuals still alive who personally experienced the events of 1965. Furthermore, without placing individual experiences in context, audiences to these projects may be moved, but view the stories as simply tragic incidents that don’t really relate to their own lives or to the present. How do we link these stories and memories to the human rights or social issues of Indonesia today?

For Zurbuchen, there are many questions that remain yet to be answered about 1965, and the need for a living process to articulate answers to the questions. For example, what were the institutions that organized and managed political imprisonment? What were the daily routines of prison life? What do we know about how indigenous communities were affected by the opening of prisons? What happened within communities where mass violence occurred? In particular, what ethnographic or social processes were employed to accommodate individuals from opposite sides of the conflict continuing to live in the same community? Zurbuchen described a variety of projects currently being undertaken to create a social history of 1965, and emphasized the important roles that teachers, artists, human rights activists and priests may play in this effort. While there may never be a “singular truth,” Indonesians today may examine the past to shape collective memory.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fernanda Borges, MP, East Timor: it's essential to bring those who order human rights abuses to justice.

Fernanda Borges, MP, Timor-Leste, is introduced by Galuh Wandita of the International Center for Transitional Justice, Jakarta.

Session II: East Timor (Part II)

Fernanda Borges, MP: Why Implementation of CAVR is Critical to the Success of Timor Leste

Fernanda Borges, a Parliamentarian in East Timor, began her presentation by describing a broad selection of challenges to justice in East Timor, which collectively contribute to the lack of political will referenced by conference participants throughout the day. To start, key parties are opposed to transitional justice because they want to maintain a political advantage; and pursuing transitional justice before the 2012 elections raises “old baggage,” as no one wants to be held accountable for past atrocities. Moreover, the national justice system is weak and bureaucratic. There is no separation of powers within the government, and power largely rests within the hands of three individuals. There has never really been formal justice in East Timor and the UN has not been consistent in ensuring transitional justice. Overall, reconciliation with Indonesia is the priority, and thus in many ways, Indonesia is still governing affairs in East Timor, despite its independence.

Borges cautioned that the weak institutions and justice mechanisms in East Timor create the potential for the growth of authoritarianism. Furthermore, recent incidents—such as post-election violence, an assassination attempt, and more generally, deepening corruption—suggest that a “fear of justice” is manifesting itself through politically motivated violence.

At the end of her talk, Borges identified several major issues that must be addressed if East Timor is committed to promoting accountability. The first is determining how to handle the return of refugees from Indonesia, which includes determining the vetting process. The second is continuing the serious crimes investigations that were initiated by the UN; parliamentarians must be involved in the working group addressing these investigations. The government should also prioritize reparations and work with Indonesia to cultivate a culture of non-violence. Lastly, there is strong political will for finding the missing, but there needs to be a systematic way of doing so.

Geoffrey Robinson: Legacies of Violence: East Timor Ten Years On

UCLA history professor Geoffrey Robinson began his presentation by discussing the release of Martenus Bere, who was charged in the September 1999 Suai massacre, on August 30, 2009, the tenth anniversary of the vote for independence in East Timor. Bere was released into the hands of Indonesian authorities and virtually guaranteed that he would not be prosecuted, though he had been indicted. The decision to release Bere passed “virtually without comment” among dignitaries celebrating the anniversary.

Robinson described this incident to illuminate a number of tensions that still exist in East Timor today. These tensions include deep and lasting legacies of decades of violence; the failure on the part of the East Timor government to uphold its own commitment to justice; and the reluctance on the part of major powers and the UN to insist Indonesia be held accountable for past crimes. The legacies of violence are most apparent in the consistent pattern of mobilization of militia groups to commit acts of violence for political purposes, even in the absence of the Indonesian military.

One way to disrupt this legacy of violence is to ensure that those who are responsible for serious crimes, including crimes against humanity, are brought to justice. However, the pattern of impunity is not limited to the violence of 1999; senior officials involved in violent crimes between 2006-2008 remain free as well. East Timor’s own leaders have argued against punitive justice, instead arguing for restorative justice. Reconciliation with Indonesia is presented as essential to stability and security, and consequently justice for past atrocities takes a back seat. This policy endorses a hierarchy of values that leaves many victims without a remedy and allows the violence to continue. Robinson pointed out that East Timor’s argument that stability and security must be higher priorities than justice mimics the arguments that Indonesia itself made in the 1980s, as it was being criticized on human rights grounds. Consequently, the argument sounds particularly hollow.

Session II: East Timor (Part I)

David Webster: “Lost Causes” and Non-State Actions against Impunity

David Webster discussed transitional justice in East Timor by emphasizing two points: the importance of different narratives and framings of the struggle in East Timor, and the role of non-state actors in advocacy efforts.

Webster’s discussion of how “words matter” focused on how rhetoric describing East Timor as a “lost cause” was used by Western officials prior to East Timor’s independence to claim that independence could not be achieved, and thus it was useless to support it. This rhetoric shaped policy in the West, and did not shift until Timorese convincingly demonstrated that their cause was far from lost at the end of the nineties. This change was accomplished in part by shifting the frame from a liberation struggle to a human rights issue, which allowed Timorese to reach non-state allies overseas.

Turning to current issues of impunity and international justice, Webster suggested that similar strategies and framings could be employed to debunk the notion that justice itself is a “lost cause.” The struggle against impunity can be just as “contagious” as impunity itself. The idea of reparative justice may be appealing to non-state supporters of East Timor overseas, who can be mobilized to pressure the Timorese government into prioritizing accountability.

David Cohen: Transitional Justice in East Timor: Overview and Assessment

David Cohen began his presentation with a photograph of the last day of the last trial of the Special Panel for Serious Crimes (SPSC), which revealed a nearly empty, modest courtroom with no media presence. Cohen explained that he was using the photo to reveal the “erratic nature” of support of the UN and international community for international justice processes. According to Cohen, every phase of transitional justice in East Timor was characterized by a lack of political will.

Cohen then discussed the shortcomings of international justice institutions more generally, which he attributed to a shift of attention away from hybrid tribunals and toward the ICC; donor fatigue; and the extremely high costs of the ad hoc tribunals. Turning more specifically on the SPSC, Cohen pointed out that most trials did not meet basic international trials fair standards, and that the focus exclusively on 1999 neglected incidents in previous years. Moreover, the narrow factual focus of trials prevented the creation of a coherent account of the overall organization of crimes against humanity. Finally, when the UN’s mission ended, so too did its justice process; the Serious Crimes Investigative Team (SCIT) that replaced the court was mandated only to complete investigations, but was unable to issue indictments. Meanwhile, though the ad hoc tribunal in Jakarta was able to pursue high-level officials, the prosecution was often incompetent. Though there was a relatively high number of convictions, all were overturned on appeal.

Cohen concluded with a series of recommendations, after acknowledging that he felt there was very little potential for the creation of an international tribunal. There is a possibility for domestic prosecutions, but political will is a prerequisite. Political will may be generated by spreading public truth and embarrassing governments into acting. To accomplish this purpose, Cohen made five suggestions: 1) much broader socialization of the CAVR report; 2) broader socialization of the CTF report; 3) making public redacted versions of the investigative files from SCIT; 4) creating a people’s tribunal modeled on the Tokyo women’s tribunal; and 5) demanding the opening of the TMI archives on East Timor.

Session I Continued: Hilmar Farid, Legacies of Occupation

Hilmar Farid, a researcher, writer, and activist in East Timor, discussed the legacies of Indonesia’s occupation in East Timor. Mr. Farid began his talk with a familiar illustration of the effects of the occupation. In March, a twenty year-old man named Charles Mali was brutally tortured and murdered when he refused extortion attempts by Indonesia’s occupying armed force, Battalion 744. His parents were forced by the battalion’s soldiers to find Charles and, besides his horrific death, his brother was tortured and his mother died soon after from the loss of her son. His uncle a prominent priest and human rights activist started a protest that led to a criminal investigation and indictment of more than ten Battalion 744 soldiers. While the protests and subsequent criminal prosecution may provide some justice, this tragic case is an example of the overarching problems this armed occupation currently presents in East Timor.

Next, keeping with a familiar theme of the panel, Mr. Farid, examined the impunity given to Indonesian soldiers and the lack of accountability for their gross human rights violations in East Timor. He noted that this same Battalion 744, responsible for so much violence, has produced many leaders promoted despite and, perhaps because of, the violence they imposed on the people of East Timor.

Lastly, Mr. Farid addressed the lack of public truth and knowledge that exists in East Timor. In particular, he discussed the textbooks used in schools in which the first edition in 1999 explained the invasion and occupation of East Timor as an invitation to occupy their country. After protests, new textbooks were written that were more critical and addressed the losses, but still presented the invasion as a choice by East Timor. However, modern technology has presented an opportunity, as it has recently in the Middle East, to bypass the official story and censorship, through the internet. Teachers in Indonesia and civil society in East Timor discussed the official textbook account through a blog and, though they did not completely agree on all the details, the two countries acknowledged fallacies in the official history presented to the public. He thus presented these civil society internet communications as a possible alternative, and hopefully a complement in the future, to the lack of accountability thus far through legal mechanisms.

Session I, Continued: Galuh Wandita, Impunity is Contagious: Transitional Justice in Indonesia and Timor-Leste

Galuh Wandita, a Senior Associate at the ICTJ, provided an overview of transitional justice in Indonesia and East Timor, arriving at the conclusion that “impunity is contagious.” Wandita noted that while Indonesia and East Timor are now formally separated, they maintain a shared border, history and experience of the Cold War, and thus the transitional justice efforts (or lack thereof) in both countries continue to influence each other.

Beginning with Indonesia, Wandita explained that there has been a systemic lack of will preventing effective transitional justice. Wandita discussed three stages of reform that have taken place in Indonesia from 1998 to the present. The first stage, which Wandita referred to as the “Momentous Change,” lasted from 1998-2000, and was marked by strong political will for change. This commitment was evidenced by a new bill of rights; strong resolutions made by the upper house calling for just solutions; a call for establishment of a national TRC; the signing of human rights treaties; expressed political commitment to trying people most responsible for crimes against humanity; and several influential commissions of inquiry. However, the second stage, beginning in 2000, was characterized by compromised mechanisms. Though the human rights courts charged 137 individuals, only eighteen were convicted, and eventually all were acquitted on appeal. Wandita suggested that the 100% acquittal rate might be evidence that Indonesia is both unwilling and unable to prosecute. The last stage, which Wandita designated “Mancet Total!,” has been a period of stalled reform and deadlock in the Attorney General’s office on five major cases.

Turning to East Timor, Wandita noted that the establishment of a Serious Crimes Panel in 2000 was a step in the right direction, though the panel was only empowered to go after the “small fish” still residing in East Timor, rather than those most responsible. Furthermore, while there have been over eighty convictions through the Serious Crimes process, nearly all of those convicted have been pardoned. The production of the CAVR report, which involved public hearings, taking about 8000 victim statements, and community based reconciliation with about 1300 perpetrators, was encouraging, though many of its recommendations have yet to be implemented. There also needs to be greater dissemination of the CAVR report.

Wandita recommended that moving forward will require a two-country strategy with linked research and advocacy strategies. There is a need to better articulate the legacy of impunity so that the patterns of the past don’t continue to repeat themselves. Furthermore, Wandita called upon the international community to show more interest and support, and suggested exploring using universal jurisdiction and other UN mechanisms to establish accountability. For example, there could be some discussion about a hybrid tribunal in Aceh, taking lessons from both the successes and shortcomings of the ECCC in Cambodia.

"40 Years of Silence," a film by UCLA's Robert Lemelson (center), will be screened on Saturday evening at James Bridges Theater. RSVP for the free event via the conference website. About the film:

Session I: Transitional Justice in Context: Indonesia and East Timor

David Kaye:: The Shifting Landscape of International Justice

UCLA Law professor David Kaye began the first session by exploring the issue of how the international community can support national mechanisms for justice and accountability. Kaye’s presentation took a broad perspective on issues of post-conflict accountability, thus situating Indonesia and East Timor in a larger context.

Kaye first provided an overview of the elements of post-conflict justice, ranging from national responses to promote criminal accountability to international interventions, hybrid tribunals, and the roles of political and regional bodies. Regarding national responses, Kaye noted that immediately moving from conflict to criminal accountability is often too difficult, which has spurred the creation of alternative national mechanisms such as the TRC model; vetting of bureaucrats for past participation in international crimes; commissions of inquiry; documentation efforts; and reparations processes. Looking to the creation of the TRC in South Africa, which is often invoked as an example of a successful post-conflict national response, Kaye observed that it was in some respects an outlier. What is more typical in a post-conflict situation is political and legal fracturing, rather than a community coming together to rebuild. This fracturing may result in resistance to any forms of accountability from groups that fear losing power, as well as case-by-case prosecution that fails to provide a comprehensive view of what happened in the past.

Furthermore, Kaye noted that inadequate infrastructure, both legal and institutional, may also create barriers to accountability. Taking the DRC as an example, Kaye noted that institutional problems such as insecure prisons and an inadequate number of courtrooms limit national responses. Similarly, a legal infrastructure that does not include sufficient laws for prosecuting crimes against humanity, in conjunction with the problem of inadequately trained defense counsel, results in a national justice system lacking credibility.

In conclusion, Kaye noted that despite all of the challenges, there is a widespread donor community advocating for international justice and rule of law. Still, this community faces its own challenges, including a lack of coordination among donor efforts, which may result in duplication of donor efforts in certain areas and the neglect of other areas. Lack of long-term commitment and a failure to link the post-conflict transitional justice world to issues of long-term rule of law are also shortcomings of the donor community’s historical response, which must be addressed to facilitate genuine accountability.

John Roosa:: Towards a History of Indonesia's Metapolitics: The Law on Censorship

How do we conceptualize the rule of law versus rule by law? Constitutions in the West limit political authority and enhance the rights of citizens whereas in middle east the law is often a way to limit rights and condense power in an authoritarian regime. Within this backdrop, Professor John Roosa discussed a personal and national success story about his book on Indonesia’s recent violent history that was banned in December 2009 soon after it was published. In a constitutional court challenge, over one dissent, the court found the Attorney General’s Office banning of his book unconstitutional. Notably, and specifically, the attorney general argued the book “disturbed public order” pursuant to a 1963 law and that this decision was made by an unbiased objective committee. Further, the Deputy Attorney General presented a state action argument basically on the principal that if the state acts then the action is valid. More interestingly, this same official actually listed the six reasons why the committee banned the book, for the first time, without having any official account refuting the narrative outlined in Professor Roosa’s historical account of the recent violence in Indonesia. Ultimately, the banning of the book conflicted with the code of criminal procedure and, thus, declared unconstitutional. The case presented by the Deputy Attorney General begs the question where is the official account and will the state strive to develop an accurate historical account?

Finally, and despite the success of his constitutional challenge that protected free speech, Professor Roosa conveyed mixed feelings as to the new reliance of rule of law in Indonesia. While not delving deep into this subject he cautioned that for a long time Indonesians sought to move away from the rule of law which largely left potentially dangerous Islamic Law as the only law. However, as evidenced by his landmark constitutional victory protecting free speech, Professor Roosa sees this step towards rule of law as a positive step.

John Roosa of the University of British Columbia realized he could take legal action after the translation of his "Pretext for Mass Murder," a book about Indonesia, 1965, was banned by the government in 2009.

Conference panelists take notes.

David Kaye, director of the UCLA Law Human Rights Program, talks about the infrastructure of accountability in a range of countries.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

About the workshop

The last decade has seen a surge of activity aimed at addressing the legacies of past human rights abuse and mass violence in Indonesia and East Timor. Those efforts, stimulated by the fall of the authoritarian Suharto regime in 1998 and by a rising global trend of support for 'transitional justice,' have transformed the political and social terrain in both countries.

It remains an open question, however, just how effective these initiatives have been in remedying past violations, and how useful the model of 'transitional justice' has been as a guide. To date, for example, there has been no meaningful effort to bring to justice those responsible for the violence of the past, or to compensate its many victims.

Bringing together scholars and human rights activists from Indonesia, East Timor, and North America, this two-day Workshop at UCLA will explore these problems by mapping recent 'transitional justice' initiatives, assessing the obstacles they have encountered, and offering practical proposals for a path forward. It will also consider what lessons the experience of Indonesia and East Timor may offer for other societies emerging from long periods of human rights abuse and misrule.