Involvement of the younger generation is one strategy that is employed by the human rights pillar in the effort to support and bring about social inclusion for victims of past human rights violations. In several program locations, various implementing partners routinely conduct activities that involve young people as volunteer cadres for direct assistance to female and elderly victims, especially in the processes of psychosocial recovery and documentation of victims to help them obtain access to social welfare services and assistance from various parties. In Solo, the victims’ organization Sekber ’65 applies this strategy through various activities, such as a young generation forum, staging ketoprak performances together with young performers, and public activities held at universities.
One public activity conducted by Sekber ’65 together with Indonesia untuk Kemanusiaan (IKa, Indonesia for Humanity) is ‘Melaung HAM’ (Shout Out for Human Rights), held at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences of March Eleventh State University (Universitas Negeri Sebelas Maret, UNS) in Surakarta on 27-29 November 2019. Following this activity, the institutional cooperation between Sekber ‘65 and the campus was steered toward more programmatic cooperation. Initially, the cooperation with the campus was limited to involvement of lecturers as resource persons in Sekber ‘65 activities or providing access for use of campus space for these activities. But after the ‘Melaung HAM’ activity, in one of whose sessions the Head of the UNS Sociology study program, Dr. Argyo Dermastoto, expressed empathy for the victims of the 1965 events, he then declared a commitment to involve his students in activities together with the 1965 victims.
One form of the involvement jointly agreed between Sekber ’65 and the UNS Sociology teaching staff is internships. Through the faculty, a UNS Sociology lecturer, Akhmad Ramdhon, initiated meetings with Sekber ’65 and discussed what kinds of forms of support students could provide that would be in line with the organization’s needs. Responding to this offer, Sekber ’65 felt that at present, documentation of the victims is urgently needed, especially since the victims are now elderly and vulnerable and experiencing problems with their health and memory. Documentation and archiving of victims’ stories or testimony is very important to support the efforts for resolution of human rights cases if the new Law on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is finally ratified by the government.
Following the discussion with Sekber ’65, two students were interested to be interns and perform documentation of victims at Sekber ’65. These two students, Khalis Asyifani and Vira, then came to the Sekber office for further discussion and to receive guidance from Sekber ’65. For Khalis, a sixth-semester Sociology student at UNS, this internship opportunity is his first chance to explore the issue of past human rights violations. At Sekber ’65, he has the opportunity to talk with them directly, access various readings and reference sources of information regarding past human rights violations, and learn the steps of work to perform documentation. For these two students, their discussion with Sekber ’65 has given them a new perspective on the events of 1965.
Khalis and Vira also took part in victim meeting activities in Solo and Karanganyar. Meeting in person with the victims has given them experience that leaves a lasting impression. They see for themselves how the meetings provide enthusiasm for life to the victims, who are all elderly. From the process of documentation of the victims’ stories and testimonies, they also learn about another side of the 1965 events which is hidden from history. Furthermore, not only are they trained to explore topics in history and social politics in line with their field of study; through this documentation process they are also trained to apply critical social analysis to the information that they document.
Sekber ’65 feels that the involvement of university students in this documentation process is extremely helpful. Sekber ’65 is also very pleased to see these students, who initially had limited understanding about the 1965 issue, being able to process and gain valuable experience by meeting directly with the victims. The documentation performed by the students is also an important asset for the future work of Sekber ’65.
Although with the COVID-19 pandemic status (since March 2020), the documentation activities are temporarily suspended because Solo is designated as a COVID-19 Extraordinary Occurrence (KLB) Zone, so far 13 victims’ stories have been documented and archived by Sekber ‘65. The student internships for victim documentation will be continued in the coming semesters. Akhmad Ramdhon says that the internship program will continue, with the hope that even more students will become involved in activities together with the victims, and that greater awareness about human rights issues will be raised, so that inclusion and protection for victims of past human rights violations can be realized.