President Joko Widodo expressed regret and sympathy for victims of past rights abuses on 11 January. Photo by Akbar Nugroho Gumay for Antara.

On 11 January, President Joko Widodo gave a national address in which he acknowledged gross violations of human rights had occurred in Indonesia and expressed his regret and sympathy for the victims.

He referred to 12 incidents involving historical violations, including the 1965-66 killings, the extrajudicial killings of criminals in the 1980s (known as Petrus), kidnappings and disappearances of students and activists in the late 1990s, the Talangsari incident in Lampung in 1989, and a small number of events in Aceh and Papua.

Jokowi made the statement at an event where he accepted the recommendations of a team he had assembled in 2022 to consider non-judicial resolution of past violations of human rights. The presidential statement included a commitment to recovery and restoration of the rights of victims, and to ensuring that such events do not happen again.

What is the significance of Jokowi’s acknowledgement and why did he choose to make it now? How has it been received by victims, their relatives and the human rights community in Indonesia? And does it signal a step towards further processes of truth seeking and accountability for past human rights violations?

In this week’s episode of Talking Indonesia, Dr Jemma Purdey speaks to Dr Sri Lestari Wahyuningroem, author of Transitional Justice from State to Civil Society Democratization in Indonesia. She is Fulbright Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, and director of the Center for Citizenship and Human Rights Studies, Universitas Pembangunan Nasional.

In 2023, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Dave McRae from the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society at the University of Melbourne, Dr Jacqui Baker from Murdoch University, and Tito Ambyo from RMIT.

Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via Apple Podcasts or listen via your favourite podcasting app.


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