Does Soeharto Deserve Be A National Hero ?

Does Soeharto Deserve Be A National Hero ?

Human rights activists are opposed to naming late dictator Soeharto a national hero and have urged the government to reject the idea, given the late president’s track record of alleged human rights abuses and corruption. Maria Catarina Sumarsih, 64, a human rights activist whose son Bernardus Realino Norma Irawan died in the first Semanggi tragedy in 1998, said there would be more losses than benefits for the country in naming Soeharto a national hero. By doing so, the current government would endorse the military authoritarianism that Soeharto upheld during his administration, which resulted in violence and led to the disappearance and death of many victims, Sumarsih said.  She urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widowo to firmly reject the notion.

“I don’t accept if an actor in my son’s murder is given a hero title. He [Soeharto] was involved in several human rights abuse cases and my son was one of the victims,” she said during a press conference at the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) on Tuesday.

Soeharto, who was in power for 32 years, and his cronies turned a blind eye to cases of human rights violations, said Kontras activist Feri Kusuma. “He contributed to the development [of the country], but all of his actions that violated the law smeared the merit [of his achievements],” Feri said, adding that giving such a title to Soeharto would discredit existing national heroes who had made worthy contributions to the nation.

Army general Soeharto was allegedly involved in several human rights abuses such as the Tanjung Priok massacre in early 1984, the 1989 Talangsari incident in Lampung, as well as the May 1998 riots between citizens and the military that resulted in many deaths and injuries.

Soeharto ordered a serious of mysterious shootings between 1982 and 1985, known as Petrus, which reportedly killed about 2,000 people across the country, with the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police deemed responsible for the killings, according to reports by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM ) in 2012.

Kontras’ impunity watch and fulfilment of victims’ rights division head Yanti Andriani said the organization had sent a letter to the government calling for it to cancel the nomination. However, as officials had not responded to the letter, Kontras assumed they were waiting for the right time to name Soeharto a national hero as in accordance with their original plan, Yanti said. Kontras intends to send another letter to the government and to Golkar this week to continue urging parties that support Soeharto’s nomination to carefully consider past human rights abuses and the ongoing effects of such crimes. “If [Soeharto] is named a hero, it’s the same as the supporters wanting to betray the ambitions of reform,” Yanti said.

Earlier, former Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie announced the party’s plan to propose Soeharto’s nomination as a national hero during an extraordinary national meeting of the country’s oldest political party in Bali last week.

The idea of giving the title to Soeharto also arose in 2010 when his name appeared on a list of national hero nominees from Central Java, selected by the Social Affairs Ministry.

Does Soeharto Deserve Be A National Hero ?

The sound of Maria Catarina Sumarsih, Yanti Andriani and Feri Kusuma are reflected their hatred to Soeharto didn’t end. They were opposed and unagreed on the notion which want to give a national hero to Soeharto. Actually, human right activist communities have hatred-feeling to former President Soeharto because all of them and their families maybe taken an excessive treatment during new order regime era.

Obviously, a significant lesson which can learn from these case are to solve some of problems which is happened at new era regime could be difficult to reach a national concencus or a national reconsiliation.  The group of human rights NGO, a former communist party symphatizer and a former new regime order victims could be estimated to reject the notion which give Soeharto as a national hero.

These conditons is shown that the government efforts to try solve ones has faced a seriously oppose attitude from Soeharto’s enemies communities. Indeed, Jokowi’s administration has asserted to solve human rights abuse to attain a national consolidation. Truthly, Soeharto’s policy which is produced during his tenure is made according to a national situation. During Soeharto’s tenure, some of politic, economic and social problems have faced by Indonesia. Soeharto believes in a political and security stability is needed to boost economic progress. Because of that, Soeharto’s administration couldn’t take a threats or barriers which can distrub development programe.

In the era of Soeharto, some of major powers countries such as ASEAN countries, Japan, Netherland even United States could be understood about Soeharto’s strategies and tactics. Besides, in these era, whatever Soeharto’s will is supported with all of national stakeholders including political party, prominent figure and house of representatives. Even Soeharto was accepted a tribute as “the father of development”.

Its must appreciate that in the Soeharto’s era, our country has a strong national dignity and another countries has given a big respect to Indonesia. Indonesia was reached the fast progress of a national development. I think the notion to give Soeharto as a national hero is shown those one as “water testing|” to ensure how can a national reconsiliation reach. “A sustainability reveange” must be erased because one can trigger our efforts to reach a national reconsiliation doesn’t fulfill. Giving Soeharto as a national hero is a crucial point and “enter door” to solve a past human rights abuse through a national reconsiliation and to oblivion judicial process.

by : Otjih Sewandarijatun,  Women and Social Problem’s Observer, residing in East Jakarta.

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