Indonesia’s Mass Rape Victims Are Waiting for Justice That May Never Come
On July 15, 1998, then president BJ Habibie condemned the violence against women in a formal government apology. His new Reformasi government established a fact-finding committee to investigate the riots shortly after Suharto’s fall. The National Commission on Violence Against Women, established in October 1998 by presidential decree, was tasked with investigating the allegations of mass rape.
The two fact-finding teams—the Joint Fact Finding Team (TGPF) and the Volunteers Team for Humanity (TRuK)—soon found compelling evidence that the rapes had indeed occurred. They submitted their reports to the central government within a month and waited for a response.
But by 2003, the commission’s follow-up investigation reached a damning conclusion: The government had failed to take the investigation any further. The victims, many of them members of the country’s ethnic Chinese minority, were instead forced to live in a society that denied that the rapes had ever happened. Five years later, the report concluded, survivors still hadn’t found justice: