Student activist Bernardinus Realino Norma Irmawan, who was 20 at the time, was shot dead with a “standard military bullet” in what has been called the first Semanggi shooting of Nov 13, 1998 in Jakarta.
When Wawan, as the family called him, was still around, he and his family would start conversations at the dinner table with an update on his time in university, but these quickly turned political.
They talked about the need to eradicate nepotism and corruption, and the importance of the rule of law. They wanted to see then-newly resigned president Suharto and his cronies brought to justice.
On Nov 13, 1998, Wawan – who by then was actively campaigning for civil rights – joined thousands of students in a sit-down protest near Atma Jaya University and the Semanggi flyover to show their mistrust of Suharto’s successor, former president BJ Habibie.
Authorities responded by firing live ammunition. Wawan did not make it home that day, one of 17 people killed.
Every Thursday, Mdm Maria and other protestors have stood in front of Jakarta’s Presidential Palace carrying black umbrellas to commemorate the victims of the shootings and abductions.
The Kamisan protest – Kamis means Thursday in Bahasa Indonesia – marked its 17th anniversary on Jan 18 this year.
Mdm Maria’s fight for justice has encountered several legal and legislative roadblocks.
In 2007 and 2020, Indonesia’s House of Representatives and the government respectively decided that the Semanggi shootings do not meet the definition of a “severe” human rights violation under the law, and thus do not qualify to be prosecuted in an ad hoc human rights court.
But in January last year, Jokowi acknowledged that the shootings were indeed part of the 12 severe human rights violations. He said the government was making efforts to provide reparations to victims, without elaborating on judicial measures.
“We reject non-judicial resolutions because Indonesia is a constitutional state. Every president, before carrying out their duties, takes an oath to comply with the constitution,” Mdm Maria said.
As the constitution affirms the rule of law in Indonesia, “whoever becomes the president is obliged and must be accountable for severe human rights violations according to the law”, she said.
On the same day, civil rights groups released a statement again calling on Jokowi to set up an ad hoc human rights court, and to locate the 13 people cited as still missing by the National Commission on Human Rights.
They also urged the government to immediately rehabilitate and provide compensation to the families of the disappeared, and to ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Read the full article here