Minister calls on public to join in Indonesia human rights commission

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The Indonesian government is seeking public participation in a reconciliation commission looking into past human rights abuses, a minister said Wednesday.

But the government would not apologize to victims of anti-communist purges in 1965-66, said Luhut Panjaitan, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs.

“Apologize to whom and for what? There were victims from both sides,” Panjaitan said.

President Joko Widodo has been under pressure from activists to apologize for rights abuses under previous governments, in particular those committed during a military crackdown after a coup attempt in 1965 that was blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

Historians estimate that 500,000 people were killed in the purges.

In 2012, an official four-year investigation found gross human rights violations during the crackdown, including murder, torture and rape.

The military has said that the action was necessary to maintain the country’s unity.

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