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Former Sukarno palace dancer sues Indonesia government for unlawful jailing
Jakarta Globe - March 1, 2012
"I agree that the president should be held responsible when a citizen's rights have been violated since the state has the ultimate responsibility to uphold human rights," lawyer and human-rights activist Todung Mulya Lubis told the court.
The 71-year old Nani Nurani has filed a motion against the government, in this case President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the head of state, for the unlawful detention and stigma she has suffered since her arrest in 1968.
The former palace singer and dancer during the rule of founding President Sukarno spent seven years in prison and has undergone constant interrogations for a crime she said "had nothing to do" with her.
The New Order regime blamed the communist PKI party for the death of seven generals and had its followers or anyone with the faintest link to the party executed or detained. Artists and performers were targeted since the PKI was known to support local culture and art.
Expert witness Rosa Agustina, a law professor at the University of Indonesia, said Nani's arrest and detention without warrant or clear legal basis was a sufficiently serious violation as to warrant restitution. "She needn't have to wait for a trial that proves her innocence when she has clearly suffered unjustly," Rosa said.
Nani has demanded full rehabilitation of her name, an apology from the president, and compensation of Rp 7.76 billion ($861,000) for material and immaterial losses.
Todung said he believed that Nani had a strong legal case due to deprivation of various citizen's rights during her arrest and lifelong stigmatization as a "communist" and a "political convict."
Nani claimed that she had experienced difficulties in finding work and applying for an national ID card, and that she had been required to report regularly to the subdistrict office.
"There are many who suffered like her but who are now too old and tired to take action. But I hope that if Nani wins, it will set a positive precedent for other victims of similar stigmatization," Todung said.
The trial has dragged on for months since Nani filed her case in October last year, and the presiding judge has now adjourned it until March 7.