The Jakarta Post
Despite strong opposition from human rights activists, President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has officially appointed former Army chief of staff Ryamizard Ryacudu as defense minister.
One of the activists, Haris Azhar, coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), had urged Jokowi not to include human rights violators such as Ryamizard in his Cabinet.
'A Cabinet with human rights violators is an obstacle for your administration's performance. The people will not believe it,' Haris said on Sunday.
'How can you solve human rights violations if there is a perpetrator inside [your administration]?'
Meanwhile, a member of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), Natalius Pigai, said there was nothing special to note about Ryamizard.
'However, a number of human rights violations took place during his tenure,' he was quoted as saying by tempo.co on Sunday.
Ryamizard, who graduated from the Indonesian Armed Forces Academy (AKABRI) in 1974, is not on the negative list of seven generals issued by Komnas HAM for human rights violations.
He was the commander of the Army's Strategic Command (Kostrad) in 2000-2002 before assuming the top job as Army chief of staff in 2002-2004. It was during his tenure as the Army chief of staff that then president Megawati Soekarnoputri ordered a military operation against Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels.
Named Operasi Terpadu (Operation Integrated), the operation started on April 28, 2003, with Megawati declaring martial law in Aceh. The status was then lowered to a civil emergency in May 2004.
Considered a professional soldier during his military career, Ryamizard was credited for the creation of the Raider infantry battalions in December 2003. Previously in 2001, he also created Combat Reconnaissance Platoons (Tontaipur), which fall under Kostrad's authority. (nvn)
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