Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The one who slipped through the cracks: Jokowi’s new Defense Minister should make for some glad hearts in the jackboot crowd

Wati as sent me a complete list of Jokowi’s new cabinet ministers, which were announced yesterday.  When I expressed a little bemused surprise that 25% of his picks had been rejected by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for being involved in graft or illegal activities (yay for Jokowi’s activation of the committee; not-so-yay for picking 8 crooks in the first place), Wati responded, “He smart that way, to forward the names to the KPK.  Some of these people are from the coalition party [and had to be nominated]. This way he can "pretend" he is innocent, and that he shouldn’t be blamed by his party since it was KPK who rejected the dubious names. This is the Asian way to stay away from being blamed.”

Here’s one of the rats who escaped the mongoose:  Jokowi’s appointment of retired General Ryamizard Ryacudu as Minister Defense sailed through without a hitch.  And you can guess that the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) was standing by to comment on this. 
"The appointment of a hardliner like Ryamizard Ryacudu tells us that President Widodo is not serious about promoting human rights or reaching out to West Papua," said John M. Miller, Coordinator of ETAN.  Miller added, "While fighting corruption may be a priority for [Jokowi’s] administration, he certainly didn't take into account Ryamizard's well-reported statements on human rights. This speaks volumes about the importance of human rights to Jokowi."
Ryamizard oversaw the implementation of martial law in Aceh, which began in May 2003 and took hundreds of lives. At that time he opposed negotiations, telling Time magazine, "Our job is to destroy GAM's military capability. Issues of justice, religion, autonomy, social welfare, education? Those are not the Indonesian military's problems," In the same interview, he responded to reports of his soldiers executing unarmed children, saying: "If they are armed and fire, they will be shot, because children - and women - can kill, too."
"Ryamizard clarified the army's definition of what makes a person an enemy when speaking of civilians who were unhappy with the state of siege. He indicated that anyone who had such feelings would be defined by the army as 'GAM,' i.e. a member of the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, the Aceh Freedom Movement.” –Allan Nairn

"'People who dislike the military emergency in Aceh are GAM members,'" Gen. Ryamizard said, 'So if they have the same voice as GAM members, this will mean that they are the younger brothers of the separatist movement.'  As Amnesty International reported, “This categorization was hugely significant since the official approach to GAM was: "hunt them down and exterminate them," in the words of the armed forces commander Gen. Endriartono in May of 2003.
Can you see now why for some Indonesian military officials, the 2004 tsunami was the best thing that ever happened to them?
Ryamizard is close to former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, who heads Widodo's political party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). When Ryamizard was Kostrad commander he mobilized troops in central Jakarta on July 22, 2001 as parliament was preparing to impeach President Wahid (1999-2001) on what many believe were trumped up charges, inspired by Wahid's reforms and his apologies for human rights violations committed by the military in Aceh, West Papua and Timor-Leste. In 2004, during the last days of her administration, Megawati nominated Ryamizard as chief of the armed forces. (Her successor, President Yudhoyono, denied him the promotion.)
Well, look who’s smiling now.
So much for any hope of dealing with any of the conflict resolution issues that still dominate the social and economic landscape of rural Aceh.

General Thug in his GAM-stomping youth

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