Press Release


Commission on Human Rights
59th session
25 March 2003

The Commission on Human Rights completed this afternoon its annual debate on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination, hearing from a series of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) contending variously that not enough had been done to implement the Declaration and Programme of Action of the Durban World Conference against Racism, and that discrimination was mounting against Muslims, Jews, and groups such as migrant workers, persons of African descent, and indigenous peoples.

Addressing the afternoon meeting were representatives of Indonesia, Cyprus, Romania, Benin, and Liechtenstein.

The following non-governmental organizations offered statements: Coordination Board of Jewish Organizations (joint statement with B’nai-B’rith International and the International Council of Jewish Women); World Jewish Congress (joint statement with International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists); African Society of International and Comparative Law (joint statement with Interfaith International and World Federation of Democratic Youth); Lutheran World Federation (joint statement with International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism and Minority Rights Group International); International Young Catholic Students (joint statement with New Humanity and International Organization for the Development of Freedom of Education (OIDEL); World Union for Progressive Judaism; Association for World Education; South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre; International Institute for Peace; Agir ensemble pour les droits de l’homme; Movement against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples; World Federation of United Nations Associations; International Human Rights Group; International Possibilities Unlimited; International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Pax Romana; December 12th Movement International Secretariat; International Association against Torture; Simon Wiesenthal Centre; Comit international pour le respect et l’application de la Chartre Africaine des Droits de l’homme et des Peuples; Asian Legal Resource Centre; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; and Migrants’ Rights International.


TIMOTHY RICHARD GILL, of the Asian Legal Resource Centre, said that in May 1998, thousands of Indonesian citizens had been murdered and raped, and vast amounts of property destroyed during racist riots against the Chinese community in Jakarta. Five years later, those responsible for the atrocities remained at large. The Government’s Joint Fact Finding Team established to investigate the massacre had found that the rioters were encouraged by the absence of security forces, and that the military had played a role in the violence. The team had even identified particular officials to be held accountable.

The Special Rapporteur on violence against women had likewise concluded that massive sexual violence had been committed against the women of ethnic Chinese communities in Jakarta, and that evidence suggested that the riot had been organized. The Government of Indonesia had failed to act against the perpetrators of the massacre because many of its officials operated within a climate of impunity. The failure of the State to bring these people to justice sent a strong message that crimes against humanity were acceptable in Indonesia. The Commission was urged to address this situation. This was a matter of urgency not merely for victims of the massacre, but also for future generations of Indonesians who continued to live under the shadow of racially motivated violence and State impunity.


[Extracts from the UN Press Release]

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The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) works towards the radical rethinking & fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in Asia, to ensure relief and redress for victims of human rights violations, as per Common Article 2 of the International Conventions. Sister organisation to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC is based in Hong Kong & holds general consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations.

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