Lhokseumawe, 17 July 2019 – Today, the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) completed a public hearing for victims of past human rights violations committed in North Aceh during the period of 1998-2005. The public hearing was held at the District Parliament Hall, Lhokseumawe, Aceh, on 16 -17 July 2019. Sixteen victims and three experts took part in this hearing, under the banner, ‘Hearing the voices of victims: revealing truth, building a better future.’
The public hearing provided space for witnesses and victims to share their experiences of atrocities committed during the conflict. It is as a medium for social healing, designed to educate the public on human rights violations and its impact. The Aceh TRC is a non-judicial mechanism that to seeks the truth about past human rights violations, providing acknowledgement to victims and recommendations on reparations and institutional reform. Their mandate is based on the Helsinki peace agreement (2005), the national law on the governance of Aceh (LoGA 2006), and Aceh’s local by-law, (Qanun no.17, 2013) establishing the TRC.
To date, the Aceh TRC has collected statements from 11 sub-districts in North Aceh and Lhokseumawe, a region rich in natural resources that was heavily affected by conflict. The scale of human rights violations committed in this region has continued to have an impact on society. Many survivors continue to live in poverty.
One victim who testified in front of the Commissioners, expressed her feeling of relief after giving her testimony, and her hope that the government will provide support for the victims. Afridal Darmi, the Chair of the Aceh TRC, thanked all of the victims for their strength in sharing their stories in public for the first time. He stated:
“The Aceh TRC will analyse the key findings from the public hearing and recommend reparations based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We will facilitate reconciliation and institutional reform to the Aceh and national governments.”
During his closing session, the Vice Mayor of Lhokseumawe stated that the local government is committed to provide support and reparations for victims in Lhokseumawe.
Dodi Yuniar, AJAR’s Program Manager, voiced concern regarding the urgent need for reparations for victims, immediately needed to allow them to heal and to commence rebuilding their lives. He stated:
“We urge the Aceh TRC to immediately recommend ‘urgent reparations’ for victims. The commitment of the Vice Mayor of Lhokseumawe must be welcomed as part of a joint effort to implement the obligation of the government to protect its citizens who suffered violations. This cooperation and coordination of reparations for victims can set a good example for other districts in Aceh.”
AJAR recalls the obligation of the state to fulfill victims’ rights to truth, justice, and reparation, along with guarantees that such violations will not be repeated. The state must ensure that these measures are based on respect for and fulfillment of the rights and dignity of victims.
Dodi Yuniar, Indonesia Program Manager
Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)