Recently declassified United States Embassy archives documenting Indonesia’s 1965 mass killings may not be included in legal proceedings before their veracity can be established, Chief Security Minister Wiranto said.
On Tuesday (17/10), the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., released 245 pages of 39 secret archives compiled by the US Embassy in Indonesia between 1964 and 1968. The documents show that the Indonesian Armed Forces, or ABRI, as it was known at the time, started conducting a public campaign of mass killings against the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965.
However, the Indonesian government said the archives are not valid and therefore cannot be used in legal proceedings.
“We cannot make those US archives part of our investigation process,” Wiranto said in Jakarta on Thursday.
He said an examination was necessary to establish whether the information contained in the archives was factually correct.
“It is difficult to find evidence and witnesses,” Wiranto said. He added that incidents that occurred in the past would have been resolved fairly and effectively under the prevailing circumstances, laws and conditions in society at that time.
Conversely, it will be difficult to prosecute those crimes in a different period under laws that have already developed, amid a changing social environment, he said.
Wiranto said the government has conducted many coordinating ministerial meetings in a bid to settle the matter.
“Komnas HAM [National Commission on Human Rights] was also involved in those meetings,” he added.
Separately, Amnesty International country director Usman Hamid said in Jakarta on Friday that the most important thing the government could do was to investigate whether the archives contained the truth, rather than being doubtful of the content just because it came from abroad.
“Do the facts described in these archives contain the truth?” Usman said.
He pointed out that the government can examine the detail contained in the archives.
“For example, it is written that on Dec. 28, 1965, it was recorded that ABRI soldiers took people regarded as PKI members to a desolate area and massacred them before burying their corpses,” Usman said.
Moreover, he explained that on Dec. 31 of the same year, ABRI soldiers secretly handed over at least 10 prisoners accused of being communists to vigilantes for execution.
“This report mentions the date, month, year, names, numbers and what institutions were involved. It is so clear,” Usman said.
He urged the government to also present its own evidence by making military archives public.
“This is actually what we are hoping for,” Usman said.