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Claudia Surjadjaja SBS Meeting, EIMB, Jakarta 17 Jan 2011 Ethical Perspectives on Re-study of Human Remains Rights of the dead vs. scientific needs of.

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Presentation on theme: "Claudia Surjadjaja SBS Meeting, EIMB, Jakarta 17 Jan 2011 Ethical Perspectives on Re-study of Human Remains Rights of the dead vs. scientific needs of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Claudia Surjadjaja SBS Meeting, EIMB, Jakarta 17 Jan 2011 Ethical Perspectives on Re-study of Human Remains Rights of the dead vs. scientific needs of the living

2 collected between 1800 to early 1900 entire archipelago, then NOI until 1960 used for physical anthropology study loaned to the Vrolik Museum UoA for 3 decades forgotten, 7 years ago found, returned to Tropen documented and categorized 2007 discussions with experts, a report produced unclaimed, less scientific value, space problem (Category C) Tropen through KITLV contacted EIMB “Indonesian” HR in Tropen Museum

3 Collections and Issues to Re-study Three categories: 1. “Japanese” soldiers found in Biak, Papua 2. Remains from community cemetery in Surabaya 3. Other remains from all over the archipelago Medico-legal and ethical issues: - “Permission” to re-study the remains: who owns the remains? - Repatriation: is this morally just? what are the bases? - Indonesia: play what role? who plays a role? What consideration to Indonesian ethics?

4 Study aim and objectives Study aim investigate dynamic cultural ethics in treating HR  ethical grounds Specific objectives 1. Document prevailing attitudes and debates, especially in Indonesian context 2. Analyze current global ethics on scientific study and repatriation of human remains 3. Assess the extent to which policy exists (mostly on legality and ethics) 4. Assess the likelihood for Indonesian CoE

5 Conceptual Framework beliefs/ religious perspectives scientific/ medical perspectives human value/ moral perspectives Specific Objectives Research questions

6 European past fascination and current debate HR = once living people ethics = conduct for living ethics = not BW, HR = not a neutral object rights of the dead vs scientific needs of the living continuum: repatriation/restitution --- DNA study re-dress the historic imbalance cleanse past evil deeds, even if entail a loss to science correct past wrong doings, making the most, heal the open festering wounds ethical reasoning: beliefs/religious ground, scientific ground, or moral philosophical ground.

7 1. Beliefs/religious perspectives

8  Islam: where one dies is where one should be buried, human body is sacred even after death. “Breaking the bone of a dead person is similar (in sin) to breaking the bone of a living person” (Sunan Abu Dawud, SunanIbnMajah, Musnad Ahmad).  Hindu and Buddhist: cremation is more than disposing of the body, it symbolizes a sense of detachment, the soul is set free from bondage  Christian: burial versus cremation, resurrection of bodies at the end times

9  HR values: scientific study, not archeological  benefitting the living by studying past health  diseases evolve as do all organisms  what we can do TODAY to have better health & improve our lives  disagreement: information from HR provides insights that can only be obtained from HR  rationalist science-based view  Jenkins (2003): “…the return of HR to indigenous communities is not just an assault on scientific research, but a faltering belief in human progress itself” 2. Science/Medical Perspectives

10  the dead is a means to the living  your end is my beginning?  human remains are not neutral objects  sanctity of human body, what constitutes respectful treatment (philosophical, cultural, & ethical framework)  Jim Bowler: “The science isn't as important as the descendants' rights."  Socrates put it in Plato’s Republic, “We are discussing no small matter, but how we ought to live”. 3. Human Values/Moral Perspectives

11 Uti possidetis juris principle: as you possessed, you shall possess henceforth newly formed sovereign states should have the same borders that they had before their independence HR issue is thus a matter of foreign policy “origin” country/communities? Law on Regional Autonomy: foreign policy is the domain of Central Government involving various technical ministries, DG of Consular Affairs at the Foreign Ministry as coordinator (Law on Foreign Relations) Cultural and Legal Framework

12 Arguments on “Indonesian” collection who “owns” these HR? HR is cultural property? re-study: the dead right, infringe of privacy, not an artifact for experiments “ownership”  politicization Dutch (Western) perspective vs Indonesian Japanese” soldiers remains: violation of Geneva Convention (skulls from Saipan at UC Berkeley)

13 Ethical Principles Non-maleficence: risk of misidentification Beneficence: body of knowledge Justice: the dead, the livings, society at large, value of science Autonomy: informed consent from relatives for biological samples Common ground  a shared humanity How remains relate to research framework:  resource assessment (current state of knowledge)  research agenda (potential area)  research strategy (identify priorities & methods)

14 Conclusion and recommendations there is no global ethics Tropen’s research policy  umbrella policy applied ethics: moral outcomes in specific situations casuistry: case-based reasoning, used for juridical and ethical discussions of law & ethics instead of rule-based/principle-based reasoning Recommendations 1. “Japanese” soldiers remains: shall be repatriated, burry (Memorial War), abide by ICRC Guideline 2. community remains: research plan, burry 3. untracked, incl. Papuan remains: museum is a graveyard? Kept until when?  burry

15 Communities tend to be guided less than individuals by conscience and a sense of responsibility. How much misery does this fact cause mankind! It is the source of wars and every kind of oppression, which fill the earth with pain, sighs and bitterness – Albert Einstein, 1934 Requiescat in pace

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