BROOKLYN, NY (July 10, 2014) — The Indonesian people have voted. Although the results will not be finalized for several weeks, most “quick count” exit polls show that Jakarta Governor Joko (Jokowi) Widodo is the apparent winner of Indonesia’s third popular election for President. Although his opponent former special forces commander Prabowo Subianto has yet to concede, barring fraud during the counting or coup, Jokowi will take the oath of office in October.
Jokowi campaigned as a reformer, and most voters were not swayed by a massive smear campaign by supporters of his opponent or Prabowo’s nostalgic appeal to Indonesia’s authoritarian past. Many voted for Jokowi expecting a sharp break with that past. Whether their hopes are met will depend on consistent pressure from those who want positive change. The forces of the status quo – from oligarchs to the military – will certainly be urging him to maintain and expand their prerogatives. The fact that Prabowo came so close to winning despite his horrendous human rights record shows how entrenched this status quo remains more than 15 years after the end of Suharto’s dictatorship.
Jokowi has responded positively to some calls for justice for past human rights violations, including those from 1998, the year that the three-decade long dictatorship of Prabowo’s former father-in-law Suharto ended. Jokowi also spoke about ending restrictions on international media access to West Papua.
The U.S. government, which often says it supports accountability for human rights crimes committed by Indonesian security forces, should strictly condition any security assistance on credible trials for past violations and an end to police and military rights violations in West Papua and elsewhere.
The Obama administration should suspend its renewed collaboration with Indonesia’s Kopassusspecial forces until allegations of improper interference with the election are independently investigated. Just prior to the vote, independent journalist Allan Nairn reported that Kopassus and the state intelligence agency (BIN) were “involved in a covert operation to influence the presidential election” in Prabowo’s favor.
A number of prominent members of Jokowi’s campaign team face accusations of serious human rights violations. President-elect Jokowi should make clear his commitment to human rights by keeping these and other tainted officials out of his administration and by making it clear that no one is above the law.
One prominent backer is General Wiranto, who on February 24, 2003, was indicted for crimes against humanity by a joint UN-East Timorese court. Soon after, the U.S. State Department placed Wiranto on its visa watch list. Jokowi should work with Timor-Leste to ensure prosecution either in Timor-Leste or by international courts for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during Indonesia’s illegal invasion and occupation of its neighbor.
Others in Jokowi’s campaign team are also accused of serious violations of human rights.General AM Hendropriyono has been implicated in a 1989 massacre of civilians Central Lampung, in the assassination of human rights lawyer Munir while head of Indonesia’s intelligence agency (BIN), and in the forced deportation of over 250,000 people from East to West Timor in 1999. Former BIN deputy chief retired Major General Muchdi Purwoprandjono also stands accused in the murder of Munir. A U.S. Department of State cable described Muchdi, a career Kopassus officer, as “one of Indonesia’s most vindictive public figures to justice” and placed him “at the heart of one of the nation’s human rights tragedies–the 1998-99 abductions of student and pro-democracy activists.”
Former Jakarta Military Commander Lieutenant General Sutiyoso is accused of torture in Timor-Leste. In 2007, an attempt by Australian investigators to question him about the October 1975murder of five Australia-based journalist in Balibo, Timor-Leste, caused a diplomatic incident.Sutiyoso was Jakarta military commander when thugs backed by troops and police attacked the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party in 1996. Retired General Ryamizard Ryacudu is a hardliner known for his xenophobic remarks and criticism of rights activists. As army chief of staff, he oversaw the implementation of martial law in Aceh beginning in May 2003.
Indonesia’s electoral commission will announce the official results on July 20 or 21. If the results are challenged, the Constitutional Court will announce the final results between August 22-24. The winner will take office on October 20. Indonesia’s Parliament, elected April 8, will be sworn in October 1.
At the end of June, ETAN and more than 30 other organizations challenged Indonesia’s incoming Parliament and next President to “to break with the past [and] fully and meaningfully address the legacy of impunity for past human rights violations,” adding that “the continued lack of accountability for past and ongoing violations of human rights threatens lasting progress.”
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) was founded in 1991. ETAN supports democracy, human rights and justice in Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia. ETAN is non-partisan. It works on human rights and related issues and does not support candidates or political parties in any country. Website: www.etan.org Twitter: @etan009.