A Recommendation: Truth-Telling as a Foundation for Reconciliation for the Jugun Ianfu in Indonesia

Peace is not merely the absence of war (direct violence), but also with the absence of structural and cultural violence (Johan Galtung)

Formers Jugun Ianfu were not only experienced in direct violence, such as: sexual violence; slapping; kicking; etc, but also cultural violence, such as: patriarchy value, and structural violence, such as: cheated by Japanese military that they will have good jobs and scholarships. In the context of psychology, they have been feeling fear, shame; feeling hatred to Japanese, low self-esteem, depression, and etc. In the context of human rights, there is no a fair settlement for victims yet, and justice needs to be done to address positive peace.

Related to responsibility after war, Japanese government should take responsibility to what they had done during the Asia Pacific War, especially in the case of Jugun Ianfu, who still suffers from the cycle of violence and injustice, both during the Asia Pacific War and their present live.

Responsibility after war needed to be done which had connected to conflict management. Conflict management is not just talk about during the conflict, how to reach peace agreement, and post conflict, but also talk about community re-integration which had been destroyed caused war or conflict. Conflict management because of war is included in physic factors, psychology, and social. Responsibility after war also connected to reconstruction after war to help each individual to handle problem in the past and do the reconciliation to find concepts truth, justice and mercy, which become a foundation to positive peace development. Conflict management after war is very important to help people who suffered because of war, to step ahead and build a new life. The point is to get better situation from bad situation which one of part to build peacekeeping.

Reconciliation can help bring about personal healing for those who have survived wars, the reparation of past injustices, the building or rebuilding of non-violent relationships between individuals and communities, and the acceptance by the former parties to a conflict of a common vision and understanding of the past. Reconciliation as well enables victims and perpetrators to move on with life and, at society level, the establisment of a civilized political dialogue and an adequate power sharing (Bloomfield 2003).

In the case of Jugun Ianfu in Indonesia, most former Jugun Ianfu live in poor condition, some of them die because they do not get adequate health care, and some of them who had been transferred to another island/country, could not go back to their family or their home country. Former Jugun Ianfu in Indonesia also experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), such as: feelings of guilt, shame and trauma. Socially depressed, because stigmatization and marginalization as a consequence, and in society regarded as gross human ex-prostitute, considering people do not get the right information about the history of Jugun Ianfu. An advance, both Japanese government and Indonesian government denied the existing of Jugun Ianfu and stigmatize them as prostitutes. 

To erase the stigmatization and heal the wound, former Jugun Ianfu should step forward and tell the truth. But, most of formers Jugun Ianfu are to shame and fear to tell the truth. So, I believe that, through truth-telling with healing and by finding a balance between justice, mercy/forgiveness, reparation, and compensation concepts, reconciliatian can be fostered, and that is is reconciliation that provides the foundation stone for building positive peace for formers Jugun Ianfu.

Truth is recantation of the past or the image toward their past (Kriesberg 2004:83). In the first place, victims wish for the public to know what has happened in the past. With truth-telling, the victim is able to tell how they have suffered in the past, not only due to the associated sexual violence, but also due to the loss of family during a brutal conflict. Truth presents an avenue to lessening indelible trauma. Truth is oriented toward creating a transparent history, which then leads to a movement of the heart to relate for “justice, to forgive, or prevention of action kinds of this in coming, heart movement, main truth is to make transparent, open, and cleans” (Lederach in Crocker 2001:849). Coming from this point, I argue that truth-telling can lessen the wounds and trauma of the victims and lead directly to trust, empathy, and even forgiveness. 

Peace Road Program Japan-Korea 

Doc: Indri Hapsari Mustika Dewi

Weekly Wednesday Demonstration, South Korea

Four important initiatives of truth-telling are recommended for the Jugun Ianfu’s issue: factual or forensic truth, personal narratives truth, social truth, and restorative truth (Fisher 2000:133). These four initiatives are adapted and developed from the work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (1) Factual or forensic truth refers to “the familiar legal or scientific notion of bringing to light corroborated evidences in obtaining accurate information through reliable (impartial, objective) procedures” (Fisher 2000:133). (2) Personal narratives truth calls for the victims’ stories. These narratives tell the history of the lives of the women   (Personal Narratives Group 1989:4). In a situation where the victim may find it difficult to tell her personal narrative the life story is told to a second person through presentation, discussion and exhibition. The second person then records every necessary document such as pictures, videos, diaries, journals and letters. (3) Social truth targets to establish bridges between individuals in the process of education. Meaning, the truth can be realized during social mutual interaction between the survivors and the second persons. (4) Restorative truth refers to “the macro level of analysis in finding facts and meaning in human relationships such as between survivors and the society or between survivors and the state” (Fisher 2000:133). The process in public hearings can be one clear example of this procedure.

Lola Piedad, Virginia, Narcissa, Valencia

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Doc: Indri Hapsari Mustika Dewi

To be more workable, truth-telling as one of reconciliation’s instruments must be a balance between other instruments such as healing, retributive-justice, and reparation concepts, which are believed to bring about justice and build positive peace for the victims. However, my study will focus only on the truth-telling process instrument. I argue that in the case of the Jugun Ianfu in Indonesia the concept of truth-telling must come first as a foundation for reconciliation. In Indonesia where the issue of the Jugun Ianfu is not acknowledged by the public and the issue is refused to be addressed by the Indonesian government, truth-telling is a key ingredient to achieving reconciliation.




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