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1965 Indonesian massacre: Survivors fear being caught up in Government's Islamist crackdown

ABC Radio Australia - August 11, 2017

Samantha Hawley, Indonesia There are growing concerns in Indonesia the equivalent of a presidential decree used to ban hard-line Islamists could also be used to silence survivors of the 1965 massacre that saw the slaughter of an estimated half a million people.

For 77-year-old Sri Sulistyawati, it's been long fight for justice that may never come. The frail Indonesian woman who was once an esteemed journalist at the presidential palace was jailed in 1968, three years after one of the 20th century's worst ever massacres that saw the slaughter of an estimated half a million people.

Suspected of links to communism, she was hunted down and spent 11-and-a-half years in prison she can recount the torture she endured like it was yesterday.

"Once they put a teak slab on top of my stomach and knees and two soldiers standing on each tip played seesaw," Ms Sri told the ABC. "It caused internal bleeding and knee problems, I went through that agony for a month."

The anti-communist purge is a highly sensitive, secretive blight on Indonesia's history. Now there is growing concern the equivalent of a presidential decree issued last month and used to ban hard-line Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir could also be used to further silence the 1965 survivors, their families and advocates.

A private meeting in east Jakarta last week, attended by 25 people, was shut down by the military and police. The group, including Ms Sri, had gathered to discuss the damning findings of an investigation by the International Peoples Tribunal at the Hague, that was released last year.

"We had already received the permission from the owner of the house. There was only a limited attendance," Bedjo Untung, a 1965 victim and advocate, told the ABC.

He said it was clear the order to shut down the gathering had come from the military Mr Untung was jailed from 1970 until 1979 for communism links. "I believe, if not today, then maybe tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, maybe the next day ... the truth will come," he said.

Amnesty International's Indonesian director, Usman Hamid, demanded Indonesian President Joko Widodo take action to stop the 1965 meetings being targeted by military and police.

Mr Hamid also expressed the same concerns that regulation to ban Hizbut Tahrir could also be used to target 1965 campaigners.

"This is really an increasing threat against freedom of peaceful assembly in Indonesia," Mr Hamid said. "The problem with Joko Widodo is he has no knowledge of human rights. He doesn't know human rights."

Indonesian activist Reza Muharam, who also attended the 1965 meeting this week, said 61 gatherings had been stopped by the military and police in the past two years.

"We want to break this silence, we want to press the Government to actually do something about this and end the impunity," he said.

"This presidential decree can also be used to silence an organisation like us or others and so I think this is a threat for the stability and future of Indonesian democracy."

The Indonesian Government held a 1965 Symposium last year, but Mr Widodo made clear no apology would be made for atrocities of the past.

In the Hague, the International People's Tribunal judges concluded there had been, "cruel and unspeakable murders" and the, "unjustifiable imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of people without trial".

Ms Sri said she was not seeking financial compensation. "What we demand is justice and to reveal the truth," she said.

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-08-11/1965-indonesian-massacre-survivors-fear-being-caught-up-in-governments-islamist-crackdown/1692926.

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