The Jakarta Post
A month after the controversial appointment of retired general Wiranto as coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister, the government has again shocked rights advocates and victims by promoting former members of the Army’s “Tim Mawar” (Rose Team).
The former Tim Mawar members, who were implicated in notorious cases of forced disappearances during the 1998 riots, have been given new positions in the government.
Four former members of the elite special force — Fausani Syahrial Multhazar, Nugroho Sulistyo Budi, Yulius Selvanus and Dadang Hendra Yuda — were recently promoted to roles in the Defense Ministry, State Intelligence Agency (BNI) and National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).
Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohamad Sabrar Fadhilah confirmed the promotions. However, aware of potential criticism due to the sensitivity of the issue, Fadhilah defended the decision, saying it was made in line with proper mechanisms.
“They have served their punishment,” Fadhilah told The Jakarta Post. “From now on, their fate will be determined by their performance.”
The decision was a lightning strike for those who fell victim to the notorious 1998 events that led to the fall of former president Soeharto.
For those who survived the cases, such as Mugiyanto Sipin, the move was inexplicable, especially as the news reached him on Tuesday’s International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
Mugiyanto said he no longer expected much from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in resolving past violations, despite the President’s campaign promises, after he recruited Wiranto for the Cabinet.
However, Mugiyanto did not anticipate more people deemed responsible for the disappearance of activists during the riots to take on governmental positions.
“If Jokowi cannot fulfill his promises now, the least the President can do is not endorse the perpetrators by allowing them to gain positions in state institutions,” Mugiyanto said.
“Jokowi is supporting further violations by condoning,” the Indonesian Association of Families of Missing Persons (Ikohi) chairman added.
Mugiyanto was one of around 23 activists kidnapped for protesting the New Order’s regime. Nine of them were later released while the whereabouts of the rest remains unknown until today.
Cases of forced disappearances did not only take place during the 1998 riots but also during several other incidents in the country’s dark past, including the 1965 communist purge.
The Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) has recorded 163 cases of past enforced disappearances. The government’s lack of commitment in settling the matter, including searching for missing activists, is said to have protected a culture of impunity.
The gloomy signals from Jokowi’s administration in settling cases of kidnapping as well as other past rights abuses have discouraged victims and rights campaigners from hoping for solutions.
Those who fell victim to the 1965 purge have also expressed low expectations, particularly after several victims met with Presidential Advisory Board member Sidarto Danusubroto, only to be told that settling cases of past human rights abuses was not on the government’s agenda for now.
The government is instead focused on improving the economy. Sidarto did not respond to the Post’s queries for clarification.
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