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Yap Thiam Hien: The Fighter for Justice and Human Rights

Yap Thiam Hien: Sang Pejuang Keadilan dan HAM

Book Tittle : Yap Thiam Hien: Sang Pendekar Keadilan
Editor : Galang
Publisher : Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia bekerjasama dengan Majalah Tempo

Yep Thiam Hien. Maybe not many know the name now. However, his work in upholding justice and fighting for human rights in his time was not in doubt. He is a minority in three layers. He’s Chinese. Christian. Honest. He lived during the struggle for independence of the Republic of Indonesia, the Old Order and the New Order.
The life story of Yap Thiam Hien the Warrior of Justice is reviewed in the Tempo Book Series. For lawyers and people in the legal world, Yap’s life story can be an example. He held his principles firmly. Loud, firm, honest, that’s Yep. Dirty and tricky politics didn’t suit him. For him, humanity, justice and human rights are the greatest things that must be upheld. Because of that firm principle, he was jailed.
Yap Thiam Hien was born in Peunayong, Banda Aceh, May 25, 1913. His parents were traders but went bankrupt. Little Yap is raised by a Japanese foster mother named Sato Nakashima. Yep little already looks smart. As an adult he migrated to Java. He had been a teacher in Rembang then moved to Batavia. He speaks four languages. Armed with this ability, Yap was able to continue his studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands and obtain a Master de Rechten degree, a legal expert. During his studies in the Netherlands, he mingled with various intellectual circles.
During independence, Yap returned to Indonesia and was active in various organizations, one of which was the Indonesian Citizenship Consultative Body (Baperki) in 1954. Yap also established a law office and defended weak people who needed legal assistance. In handling legal cases, he always told his clan. “If you want to find victory, don’t be with me because we will definitely lose. However, if you are satisfied enough to speak out the truth, then I am ready to be your legal companion ”.
During the Soekarno era, Yap refused when the government forced Chinese citizens to change their names. For him, identity is impossible to keep. Eliminating identity is a violation of human rights. He also refused when President Soekarno issued a presidential decree and returned to the 1945 Constitution. For him, in terms of protecting human rights, the 1950 Provisional Constitution was better than the 1945 Constitution. He pointed to Article 6 of the 1945 Constitution at that time – “The president is a native Indonesian” – which he called unfair and ignored pluralism. After 50 years, the MPR finally amended this article. The truth sometimes comes too late.
Yep defends anyone who is treated unfairly. When many people spat at those who were called PKI members, after the G30 S / PKI, Yap wanted to defend Soebandrio, the former deputy prime minister who was actually his political enemy. He also protested the sending of PKI prisoners to Buru Island. Through the institution he founded, the Prison Fellowship Indonesia, Yap called for the release of all PKI prisoners.
Once upon a time, a number of residents on the outskirts of Jakarta came to the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, an organization also founded by Yap. They complained because their residence was evicted even though the residents had land certificates. Faced with tired and sluggish, they were accepted by Yap and a number of LBH administrators. “We are not against the government. We only ask for adequate compensation, “said one complainant. Hearing that sentence, Yap looked up. Her face turned red. “Stop! You can’t say that. You must dare to oppose if the government is wrong. It is not wrong to oppose the government, ”he said loudly.
For Yap, truth is a fixed price. He defended the case not for victory, but for the sake of finding the truth. Adagium fiat justitia ruat coelom – justice must be upheld even when the sky falls – he does.

Yap was once detained and imprisoned because he hurt a police and prosecutor’s official during a trial. Because he defended his client and accused a police official, he was eventually targeted and arrested on fictitious charges of joining the September 30 movement. In fact, Yap has nothing to do with that movement. However, his colleagues such as Adnan Buyung Nasution, Todung Mulya Lubis, Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, and others defended him. Yep, appeal to the appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court judge ruled Yap not guilty and the decision later became jurisprudence related to the immunity of an advocate in defending his client at trial.
Yap’s actions in fighting for justice and human rights in court are beyond doubt. He is modest, honest, upholds the values ​​and principles firmly, even though sometimes this is naive in the middle of unclean practice around law enforcement agencies. However, he still sticks to his principles.
Yap expanded his struggle not only in the realm of the court. In the last days, he was involved in many community organizations. He helped defend the community affected by the construction of the Kedungombo reservoir. He also defended residents in the Tanjung Priok incident as well as the incident known as the Malari riot during the Soeharto era. He gave advice and discussed a lot with students before the Malari incident broke out. Saar that, Yap was also arrested along with Hariman Siregar, a student leader who protested against the government which led to the Malari rioting. Yep detained. However, he did not give up. Yap also opposed the mysterious shooting or what was known as the Petrus incident during the Soeharto regime.
Yap breathed his last while attending an international NGO forum in Belgium. At that time, he came with his colleagues, namely Adnan Buyung Nasution, Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, and others. His body was then flown to Indonesia. At that time, the Trisakti students wanted Yap’s body to be brought to the Trisakti campus as a symbol of resistance to the government, but the family wanted Yap’s body to be brought back home and buried. Yep, until the end of his life he was known as a fighter for justice, as well as a true opponent. From Yap Thiam Hien we can reflect.

Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Muhammadiyah Gresik
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