Chinese community in Indonesia still seeking justice

Chinese community in Indonesia still seeking justice
Foreigners and local leaving Jakarta during the 1998 crisis. They gathered at the airport to get tickets out of Indonesia.

The Indonesian Chinese Association (INTI) has urged presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, should he win the upcoming election, to resolve past human rights abuse cases.

These include the violence against and mass murder of Chinese-Indonesians in the run-up to the fall of the New Order regime in 1998.

INTI founder Benny Setiono, speaking before Jokowi and thousands of the association's members, said that the unresolved cases remained a heavy burden on the victim's families and friends.

"We are still confused when asked about the issue. I hope you will resolve it should you be elected president," he said late on Thursday at the Sun City Hotel in West Jakarta.

Benny added: "Whether or not there will be a reconciliation is another issue. Resolve the cases then we will probably forgive [the perpetrators]."

INTI secretary-general Budi Santoso said that the settlement of past human rights abuse cases would enable the nation to move on.

"Indonesia is a plural country. We will rely on whoever wins in the upcoming election, regardless of his identity or religion, to maintain pluralism and to settle human rights abuse cases. Then we can move on," he said.

During the event, Budi emphasised that INTI was a neutral organisation.

"We refuse to be affiliated with a political power. This meeting is a forum where community members can hear about the presidential candidates' programs," he said.

The community was established in 1999 in the wake of the reform era.

"Our political activities were restricted before reformasi as a result of the various discriminative laws. This organisation was also aimed at providing political education to our younger generation. We want our children and grandchildren to be actively involved in politics," Budi said.

In his speech, Jokowi reiterated his commitment to promoting pluralism, retelling past experiences that underlined his pluralistic stance, including his decision to select Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, to be his running mate during the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial race.

"My team could not believe my decision but I went ahead because I had calculated everything. When we eventually won, my team was rather surprised, but I wasn't," he recalled.

Jokowi also counted his popular decision to defend Lenteng Agung subdistrict leader Susan Jasmine Zulkifli after a group of local residents demanded she be removed as she was a Christian.

"I defended her because she had passed the long selection process. Jakarta is a national model - can you imagine if I gave in to their demand?" he said.

A day earlier, INTI met with presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto in Central Jakarta. "The previous meeting was held in a smaller venue because Pak Prabowo requested that the meeting be held near to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta so he could avoid traffic jams from the airport," said Budi.

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