Revealing the Act of Torture in Aceh: Healing Survivors and Preserving Public Memory.
Banda Aceh, 26 June – In commemoration of the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture, The Torture Submission Team, consisting of KontraS Aceh, KontraS, LBH Apik Aceh, and Asia Justice & Rights (AJAR) have formally presented submissions with the special theme of torture to the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this morning, June 26, 2019.
The submission is an opportunity to share the outcomes of an extensive participatory research process, conducted with survivors and their local community, with a hope to strengthen the truth-seeking processes currently being undertaking by the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The research and documentation verified in this submission were carried out between 2013-2018 by applying participatory research methods. A total of 91 survivor testimonies were taken as part of this research, of which 64 men and 27 women from 8 regencies across Aceh Province, shared their stories. The regions covered were Aceh Besar, Pidie, Pidie Jaya, Bireuen, Lhoksumawe, North Aceh, East Aceh, and Aceh Jaya. The key findings include the duration and location in which the torture took place, and the resounding effects torture has had on those who have survived. Unfortunately, the process of preparing this submission, two survivors have since died, one of which was the result of the effects of the torture he experienced.
The right to be free from torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment cannot be denied or limited in any circumstance [non-derogable rights], including under any conditions during the war. Torture is recognized as a crime under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and regulated by human rights organizations, humanitarian and international criminal law. Torture is used to get information, to punish, threaten or embarrass the victim. In general, torture occurs after a victim has suffered arbitrary detention and is taken to a place of detention or a secret location that is used as a place of detention by the military or police. In some cases, torture is carried out in public spaces, with an aim of instilling fear amongst a surrounding community. The torture that is systematically practiced or expanded in deliberate efforts to commit widespread harm [crimes against humanity], is considered one of the most serious crimes in international law.
The Submissions Team has concluded there is strong initial evidence that demonstrates acts of torture and the systematic application of cruel treatment, reaching the limits of a crime against humanity. In the context of Aceh, torture was carried out in an effort to control the Acehnese people through fear.
The Submission Team appreciates the work of the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission who held ‘Dengar Kesaksian’, a public hearing into torture in Aceh, in November 2018. From all 13 victims presented at the public hearing the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that there had been human rights violations in the form of acts of torture. Collection of information and statement taking to uncover the occurrence of torture continues and to encourages the fulfillment of reparations for victims of torture in Aceh, reconciliation, and encouraging institutional reform.
Based on the key findings mentioned above, we strongly encourage:
- The Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission continues to prioritize disclosing the truth about torture and other inhumane acts in Aceh, and cooperating with all relevant agencies to collect information, data, and documents about those who are the victims of torture, and the patterns and perpetrators of torture.
- The government of Indonesia to immediately provide recovery treatment options for victims, as a form of urgent reparation, and work together with the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission and civil society for victims of torture in the way of counseling, economic support, home improvement, and other rehabilitation efforts.
- The Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission to propose a long-term reparations program for victims of torture, in consultation with victims of torture and their companions.
- The Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission to work with civil society to immediately register and preserve places of detention and torture in all areas of Aceh, as a form of internal memorialization to prevent the act of torture in the future.
- The Aceh Truth and Reconciliation to refer to key cases that have been investigated by Komnas HAM to be continued as a pro-justicia investigation.
- Security institutions and law enforcement in Aceh and throughout Indonesia must acknowledge the patterns of torture during the conflict, and support efforts to prevent the recurrence of torture in the future.
The Submission Team hopes that the submission contributes to the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s efforts to conduct further statement taking, and hearings that cover the testimonies of victims. We also hope the submission supports the final report on torture in Aceh, as being prepared by the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission and our mutual objectives to set the foundation for peace and reconciliation processes in Aceh.
The Submissions Team
Komisi untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan Aceh (KontraS Aceh) Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Asosiasi Perempuan Indonesia untuk Keadilan Aceh (LBH Apik Aceh) Pusat Kegiatan Sosial Ekonomi Aceh (PASKA)
Komisi untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan (KontraS) Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
– Faisal Hadi, KontraSAceh (+628126916583)
– Indria Fernida, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) (+628161466341)