Controversial Hendropriyono gets transition team support
Haeril Halim and Margareth S. Aritonang
The Jakarta Post
The transition team established by president-elect Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo insisted on Sunday that Jokowi had made the right decision to appoint former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Gen. (ret) A. M. Hendropriyono, who allegedly has a record of human rights violations, as an advisor to
The team's backing of the controversial appointment came amid an outcry from rights campaigners who questioned Jokowi's campaign commitment to address the country's unresolved human rights abuse cases, some of which allegedly involved Hendropriyono, who is also a long-time friend of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri.
The transition team is preparing for the shift from the administration of outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is slated to leave office in October.
Hasto Kristiyanto, a deputy of the team, said that Hendropriyono's advice, particularly on multinational issues that are closely connected to intelligence work such as terrorism and radicalism, would be valuable.
'We should not doubt Pak Jokowi's decision [to appoint Hendropriyono]. The team needs his advice on critical issues such as radicalism and terrorism,' Hasto told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
Following the appointment, human rights campaigners raised concerns that Hendropriyono's participation in the transition team could be a gateway for him to enter Jokowi's future administration, a situation that would bring challenges for law enforcement institutions in prosecuting Hendropriyono.
On Aug. 4, Jokowi officially introduced his transition team, the first in Indonesian history, to prepare the incoming government. The team is chaired by former president director of PT Astra International and former industry and trade minister Rini Mariani Soemarno.
Asked whether Jokowi would offer Hendropriyono a ministerial post in his administration in return for giving advice to the new government, Hasto said 'the transition team has nothing to do with ministerial posts'.
Harris Azhar, executive director of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said that the appointment of Hendropriyono has raised concerns that human rights issues could take a backseat on the next government's agenda.
'Hendropriyono should be held accountable for the 1989 Talangsari tragedy. Also, human rights campaigner Munir Said Thalib was killed in 2004 by BIN agents during Hendropriyono's tenure,' Harris said, referring to an incident in Central Lampung ' now part of East Lampung regency ' in 1989 that left many civilians dead, wounded or missing.
In the Talangsari incident, a battalion of Indonesian Army soldiers equipped with assault rifles from the Garuda Hitam Military Command in Lampung reportedly besieged the area of Cihideung at dawn. Soldiers burned houses and detained villagers across the regency and in areas surrounding provincial military commands.
Hendropriyono has previously denied the allegations and maintained that he had nothing to do with any of the human rights abuse cases, describing all the allegations against him as 'slanderous' and 'character assassination'.
'I am assigned to give advice to the transition team, especially in the field of intelligence. We all want the team to achieve its goals effectively and efficiently,' Hendropriyono said when confirming his posting on Sunday.
He said that he would support Jokowi's new government in resolving human rights abuse cases in Indonesia.
'I support Jokowi ' that's why I am here,' said Hendropriyono who, as a member of Jokowi's team during the presidential campaign, helped to balance out the greater presence of military aides in the side of Jokowi's competitor, Prabowo Subianto.
Hendropriyono has accused NGOs that raised concerns regarding his involvement in past human rights abuse cases of taking advantage of what he called 'negative publicity against him'.
'They [NGOs] are making money from raising slanderous allegations against me,' Hendropriyono said.
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