Between Restorative and Retributive Justice: Seeking a Post-Conflict Reconciliation Model for Aceh, Indonesia

Event details

PSC Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 17 June 2014


PSC Reading Room, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU


Fajran Zain


Allison Ley
+61 2 612 53097


This seminar presents a post-fieldwork summary of my research investigating Transitional Justice (TJ) mechanisms in Aceh, Indonesia. In this research I use both quantitative and qualitative methods and combine both political and psychological approaches. The first part of the research"applying qualitative methods"investigates TJ mechanisms that have been applied in Aceh's recent history, focusing particularly on two cases of civil war, the Prang Cumbok 1945€“1946 and Gerakan Darul Islam (DI/TII 1953€“1962), as well as the more recent GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, 1976€“2005) period. For the aftermath of each of these episodes I investigate how Aceh has tried to deal with past human rights violations and other legacies of conflict. Have components identified in the international transitional justice literature"such as trials, amnesties, reparations, lustrations, institutional reforms been applied? Which justice mechanisms have been favoured? To what extent have Islamic and customary law approaches proven compatible with contemporary TJ mechanisms? The second part of the research"applying quantitative approaches"investigates attitudes of victims of political conflict in Aceh toward the reconciliation agenda. It is hypothesized that these attitudes will be predicted by five sets of variables: reparation experiences, perceptions of institutional reform, religiosity levels, individualism-collectivism levels and conflict severity experience. I investigate which variables are most influential in predicting victims' preferences for either retributive or restorative justice, ie for either punishing or forgiving the transgressors. In this seminar I will emphasize three preliminary findings: (1) TJ mechanisms emphasized in recent scholarly literature have largely been absent from past and present conflict resolution schemes in Aceh, but reparations and reconciliation approaches using local customs and ceremonies named peusijuek; (2) Lack of action by both local and central government has led families of victims, with the support of civil society organizations, to promote grass-root reconciliation rather than formal TJ mechanisms; and (c) there are three distinct forms of justice mentioned by victims"truth, reparations and prosecutions"where the latter is the least prioritized.


About the Speaker

Fajran Zain is a Senior Political Analyst at the Indonesian think tank the Aceh Institute (AI) and an editor of the Institute's quarterly journal SEUMIKE. He was a Fulbright grantee who received his MA in psychology from Ball State University (BSU) Indiana, and has been teaching some psych-related courses such as social psychology, cross cultural psychology, cognitive psychology, and peace psychology at Syiah Kuala University (USK) Banda Aceh and the Universitas Muhammadiyah (UNMUHA) Banda Aceh as well. He is now a recipient of the Australian Research Council (ARC) grant in pursuing Doctoral degree from the Australian National University (ANU)

Fajran has edited several books among them: Geunap: Perdamaian Bukan Tanda Tangan, 2010; Rangkeum: Analisis Aceh Institute di Media, 2010; Riyeuk: Aceh, Pluralism and Initiative, 2009; Timang: Aceh, Women and Equality, 2008; and The Intellectuals' Commitment within the Rehabilitation and Reconciliation Processes, 2007. He is also the author of Toward New Aceh Society (2005) and co-author of Tragedi Anak Bangsa: Pembantaian Tgk Bantaqiah (2005).


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