Asia-Pacific perspectives on international humanitarian law
Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2020
The many islands that form the Republic of Indonesia are no strangers to armed conflict and extreme violence. The inhabitants of the archipelago have borne the brunt of foreign aggression, notably in the form of Dutch colonialism and the Japanese occupation during World War II. They have seen a vicious war of independence from the Netherlands that was both accompanied and followed by years of non-international armed conflict (NIAC). In light of this history of armed conflict, it is to some extent understandable that Indonesia came to be an exceptionally militarised society. However, the trigger for the military gaining a stranglehold over modern Indonesia was an alleged Communist coup in 1965 leading to the military carrying out one of the world’s most lethal pogroms and seizing the reins of control. It was therefore a highly militarised nation led by the Javanese Army General turned President Suharto that pursued a strong military response to the insurgencies in Aceh and Papua, and then invaded and occupied Portugal’s non-self-governing territory of East Timor. Indonesia therefore presents an unusually fertile IHL landscape. The following sections will interrogate the role that IHL actually plays in Indonesian law and procedure, in both the military and civilian frameworks. It will also introduce leading examples of litigation emerging from crimes committed in some of the many armed conflict situations. The concluding section will reflect on the key features that emerge, and also look to the future.
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