Two years before KontraS (The Commission for “the Disappeared” and Victims of Violence) was founded, the hope for a new society in Indonesia under a democratic system was almost destroyed. In 1996, Indonesia’s authoritarian regime took steps to destroy political aspirations, and muzzle the voices of the so-called “undercurrent” of political opposition.

The victims were not only political parties, but also nearly all independent and community-based organizations. NGOs and student movements experienced cooptation and intimidation through increasingly brutal investigations, arrests and detentions. Some were done through “official” channels while others were conducted secretly and arbitrarily.

These actions occurred as a result of New Order regime’s need to consolidate its power before the 1997 general election. Predicting that violence might result from reactions to the general elections and the general session of the consultative assembly, a number of NGOs established KIP-HAM, the Independent Commission for the Monitoring of Human Rights Violations, located at Jl. Diponegoro 74, Jakarta Pusat.

The New Order regime became more and more despotic in an attempt to keep their power. They victimized political opposition by muzzling and controlling political parties. They also targeted grassroots political activists by abducting a number of students, NGO activists and vocal political party’s members.

At this time the first enforced disappearances, of Desmond Mahesa, Pius Lustrilanang, and Haryanto Taslam, came to the surface, and began to raise people’s anxieties. Violence continued as economic crisis continued to escalate.

This critical phase of the New Order regime intensified as the regime increased its repressive actions, arrests, and military operations. The State, using military agents, conducted kidnappings and arrests. Student activists such as: Andi Arief, Waluyo Jati, Nezar Patria, Herman Hendrawan, Bimo Petrus, Mugiyanto, Wiji Thukul, Suyat and others became victims of enforced disappearance. At the same time, the pro-democracy movement demonstrated to show its opposition to this increased repression.

With a deep concern for the increasing number of victims of state sponsored violence, activist from NGOs and student organization such as YLBHI (Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation), Elsam (Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy), AJI (Alliance of Independent Journalists), KIPP (General Elections Monitoring Independent Commission), PIPHAM, PMII (Indonesian Islamic Student Movement), and CPSM decided to establish an investigative task force to find parties responsible violence and disappearances. This effort was also supported by a number of influential persons.

It was at this point, March 20, 1998, that KIP-HAM transformed into KontraS: The Commission for “the Disappeared” and Victims of Violence. With a powerful alliance behind it, KontraS became a leading organization confronting the authoritarianism of the Soeharto regime. During that period, the tactical and strategic nature of the task at hand dominated KontraS’ performance.

With the fall of Soeharto, many expected that a new era would emerge in Indonesia. However, the Habibie political regime suffered from weak political leadership, strong influences from the old regime, and a lack of commitment to the eradication of the roots of authoritarianism—such as militarism. This caused bigger and more serious problems: horizontal conflict, rampant corruption, and uncertain law enforcement.

It was during Habibie’s leadership that KontraS was forced to confront significant structural problems in the government. This included the innermost characteristic of the authoritarian New Order regime: militarism. Militarism was at the center of social riots, disappeared persons and the killing of students. KontraS started addressing this culture of militarism in its original and structural form. In this period the student movement became a key support for the work of KontraS.

The multitude of parties and ideologies in the post-Soeharto period created the possibility that many old problems would develop into new conflicts and violence. KontraS therefore has to face all forms of “horizontal” as well as political violence to help build a new, strong, more mature and effective organization.

Membership :
On 2004, KontraS, KontraS Aceh, KontraS Papua, KontraS Sumatera Utara agreed to establish the Federation of KontraS as an organization for coordinating the activities of all members. Now, the Members of Federation are : KontraS, KontraS Papua, KontraS Sumatera Utara, KontraS Sulawesi and ad hoc KontraS East Timor.

In national level KontraS is a member of The Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) and The International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID). In the regional level KontraS is member of  The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN), Solidarity of Asian People Advocacy (SAPA Forum) and Asian NGOs Network on NHRI’s (ANNI).  Since 2008, KontraS is a strategic partner of Amnesty International in Indonesia.


To establish Indonesia as a just and democratic country where people are free from fear, repression and discrimination


To promote political awareness of victims of abuse in order to fight for justice in Indonesia without regard to religious background, race, ethnic, ideology, class, gender, or sexual orientation.
To fight for each person’s right to be free from all forms of violence and repression, especially resulting from the abuse of state power within the society.
To fight for democracy and justice with other members of civil society.
To strengthen our own capacity to support a human rights agenda in civil society.


1. KontraS is a non-profit organization
KontraS obtains funding to finance its activities from individuals, communities, organizations, and donor institutions. These donors may be based in Indonesia or abroad. KontraS accepts funding under the condition that it will not in any way impede, disrupt, and/or change the substance and/or the implementation of the vision and mission of the organization.

KontraS was established on March 20, 1998 as a commission with the approval and support of various organizations.

KontraS is run by a working committee, led by a coordinator, and assisted by a staff which falls into divisions established as needed. KontraS has the rights to recruit volunteers.


“ALL HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL” Campaign for Universal Human Rights, Ending Impunity

Goals : To increase the socialization of the rights defined in the national Constitution and law and monitor closely the implementation of the rights included in ratified international treaties.

Based on KontraS’ vision and mission, its short terms objectives and work plan are as follows:

1. Legal Defence for Victims of Human Rights Violations

This preventive effort is to help protect members of society from becoming a target of human rights violations by state powers.

2. Truth-seeking

Uncovering the truth is a primary concern when attempting to deal with past abuses. Truth-seeking is an important process that should ideally be conducted by the government to build an accurate historical record. It is often a prerequisite for other justice initiatives. The quality of truth-seeking is essential and must involve victims.

3. Due Process of Law

The due process of law demands accountability for human right violations through a fair legal procedure. Such accountability is an essential part of the development and promotion of human rights through the enforcement of legal guarantees and protections.

4. Reparations

Reparations constitute another component in the fulfillment of victims’ rights. Reparations include any form of compensation, restitution, rehabilitation or recognition. Reparations are the responsibility of the state.

Campaigns to Shape and Influence Public Opinion

The campaigns against violence aim to promote a discourse which will help fight the politics of violence. These campaigns aims to develop the community’s sensitivities to the presence of violence, especially in relation to forced disappearances, rape, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, summary executions, and the other forms of serious human rights violations.

Human Rights Violations
KontraS calls for urgent action on human rights violations. These campaigns cover the importance of resolving contemporary as well as past cases of human rights violations. They also support advocacy which reinforces the understanding that human rights are fundamental and must be taken into consideration in making every policy decision. For this purpose, KontraS conducts monitoring and policy studies relating to the protection and promotion of human rights in Indonesia.


Disappeared People
Enforced or involuntary disappearances have a special character, different from other gross human rights violations. This special character originates from the uncertainty such disappearances create about the fate and current whereabouts of victims. International laws state that disappearance cases constitute a continuing crime. Based on this, disappearance cases do not focus on when the victims disappeared, but rather on the fact that the victim’s fate continues to be unknown. With this “continuing” status, disappearance cases fall under the jurisdiction of the human rights court formed by Law No. 26/2000. Unfortunately, there are still obstacles keeping these cases from Indonesian courts. One such obstacle is the Attorney General who does not appear to have the impetus or commitment to address the many cases of enforced disappearance.

In fighting for justice for those who have disappeared, KontraS has been lobbying and campaigning on the national and international level. On the national level, KontraS and victims’ families have demanded that the Attorney General, Parliament and Komnas HAM move the process forward. On the international level, KontraS has become a member of AFAD (Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance) which actively submitted our complaints to UNWGEID and continues to pressure international mechanisms, invoking the Convention on The Protection for All Persons from Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance.

Extrajudicial Killings
Extrajudicial killing continues to be a problem in Indonesia. In 2004, it even affected one of KontraS leaders, Munir, a leading Indonesian democracy and human rights activist. The murder of Munir showed that there has been and continues to be a political conspiracy involving the state apparatus focused on using violence and intimidation to prevent people from being too openly critical of those in power in Indonesian.

Various issues have triggered extrajudicial killings, including: politics, government policy, political party matters, economic interests, social problems, legal cases and cultural issues.

In most regions in Indonesia, patterns of extrajudicial killing have emerged. Extrajudicial killings are repressive, planned, and systematic. The policies stem from incumbent government regimes desire to maintain power. Using extrajudicial killings to secure New Order-style power has not completely vanished in Indonesia. KontraS has taken and will continuous to make efforts to work with all elements of society to prevent a reversion to the frequent use of extrajudicial killing.

Arbitrary Detentions
Arbitrary detention has been used in Indonesia at least since 1965, when the State arrested, arbitrarily detained, and tortured numerous people without legal process or a fair trial. The practice of arbitrary detention demonstrates the hegemony of the executive branch of the government and represents an attempt to intervene into the rightful realm of the judiciary, an area of the government which should be independent and impartial.

Arrest and arbitrary detentions in Indonesia have been used against people accused of subversive acts. Such acts have related to the Tanjung Priok case, the Talangsari case, the July 27, 1996 riots, and other students demonstration. Arrests and arbitrary detentions have also been used against laborers and farmers.

KontraS generally focuses on arbitrary detention cases related to the political interest of the present government. In other words, KontraS focuses on detentions which are (strongly alleged) to be correlated with the government’s illegal attempts to maintain its hegemony.

Torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment continue to be forms of punishment in Indonesia. Such repressive activities are conducted by those in power with the justification that they are merely trying to create a stable and ordered society (as was done to members of civil society who were accused of being involved in separatism, criminal behavior, participating in demonstration, etc.).

Torture has been used by the government against people resistant to government policies. More and more, the state has sought to justify torture. They claim that such strong measures are allowable because they are needed by the police, the military and the court system.

Indonesian Law number 5/1998 on the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel and Inhumane Treatments has not yet been implemented. Existing regulations are not enough, since they are not appropriately harmonized with other regulations. Meanwhile, officers in the police force, military, and detention centers remain the main perpetrators and lack a comprehensive understanding on the prohibitions on the use of torture.

Activities :

1. Collecting and Disseminating information on human rights violations
– Investigating & writing reports on human rights violation
– Lobbying to change law/policies/practices
– Mobilization public opinion

2. Support victims of human rights violations
– Organizing  the community of victims by providing legal servises/advice
– Representing victims

3. International Desk and communication
– Collecting & Disseminating information
– Attending international forum

4. Strengthening Capacity & accountability of organization
– Distribution of information related to organization’s work
– The use of website  and communication facilities
– Provision of  technology facilities
– Holding meetings for members of kontras associations and alumni
– Building partnership with partner institutions
– Capacity building for members of KontraS’ working committee
– Planning and evaluation on organization’s work making effective safety system



KontraS has a Board of Trustees made up of a:

Chairman : Asmara Nababan

Vice chairman : Ati Nurbaiti

Treasurer : Zoemrotin

KontraS has a Board of Directors composed of the:

Coordinator: Usman Hamid

Office Managers:

The Head of Operational (1st vice coordinator) : Indria Fernida

The Head of Internal Affairs (2nd vice coordinator): Haris Azhar

Divisions and Bureaus:

Divisions and Bureaus:

Politics, Law and Human Rights : Abusaid Pelu

Impunity Watch and Victim Empowering : Yati Andriyati

Research and Development : Papang Hidayat

International Campaign : Sri Suparyati

KontraS ACEH:
Coordinator: Hendra Fadli

KontraS SUM-UT:
Coordinator: Diah Susilowati

KontraS PAPUA:
Coordinator: Harry Maturbongs

Coordinator: Andi Suaib

Secretary of Federation : Oslan Purba

KontraS consists of 10 women and 20 men. Four women are in top decision-making positions (Vice I Coordinator, Head of Bureau, and Head of Division); Four other women work in finance and logistics. Three men are in top decision-making positions (Vice II Coordinator, Head of Division and Head of Bureau). The current Coordinator is a man. The other men work within the various divisions. KontraS is based in Jakarta, and has a federalized structure. Under the Federation KontraS has  members: Jakarta, Aceh, Papua, Medan, Sulawesi and Surabaya.

KontraS is a member of Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) and INFID (International International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development), AFAD (Asian Federation Against Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance), FORUM ASIA, ADPAN (Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network) and participates in regional and international networks such as AHRC Hong Kong, Indonesian Solidarity, Watch Indonesia

KontraS is a strategic partner of Amnesty International


Besides the cases mentioned above, the State has been responsible for many others human rights violations. Such abuses often took place in the past and are the focus of much of KontraS work. The past abuses relate to the 1965 massacres, the Tanjung Priok massacre in 1984, the Talangsari massacre in 1989, student shootings in Trisakti Semanggi, the murders of shamans in Banyuwangi and Ciamis in 1998-1999, horizontal conflict in Sambas in 1999, atrocities in Poso in 2000, Sampit in 2000-2001, Aceh, Mollucas, and Papua. Past abuses also include the repression of pro-democracy students. KontraS continues to conduct investigations, lobbying, advocacy, litigation and monitoring as well as anti-violence campaigns on the national and international level.

The Suardi Tasrif Award (1998) from the Independents Journalist Alliance (AJI). This award was given in recognition of KontraS’ work advocating for the people’s right to information on human rights violations.

The Serdadu Award (1998) from the Organization of Jakarta Street Artists and Musicians. This award was given for KontraS’ efforts to promote the uphold human rights.

The Yap Thian Hien Award (1998) one of the most prestigious awards in the filed of human rights.

Jl. Borobudur No.14 Menteng | Jakarta Pusat 10320
Tlp: 021-3926983, 3928564 | Fax: 021-3926821 | Email: kontras_98@kontras.org

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: