Subject: Human rights activists protest against new Indonesian defence head

April 16, 2005, Saturday

Human rights activists protest against new Indonesian defence head

The Jakarta Post web site, Jakarta, in English 15 Apr 05

Text of Antara report published in English by Indonesian newspaper The Jakarta Post web site on 15 April

Jakarta: A group of human rights victims staged a protest on Friday [15 April ] over the installation of controversial army general Maj-Gen Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin as the new secretary-general of the Ministry of Defence.

The protest was staged several hours after Sjafrie, who has been linked to a series of human rights violations in Jakarta and East Timor, was installed to assume the key post in the Defence Ministry.

Based on a decree on the major reshuffle at the Indonesian Military (TNI) signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday, Sjafrie, the former Indonesian military spokesman, has been appointed as the ministry's new secretary-general, replacing Vice Marshall Suprihadi.

Sjafrie's appointment has sparked furore among rights activists who allege he played a role in the kidnappings and killings of dissidents in the 1990s.

Up to 50 people flocked to the Defence Ministry building in Central Jakarta, shortly after Sjafrie was installed, displaying signs denouncing the general's promotion.

The protesters also accused Sjafrie of involvement in widespread riots in Jakarta at the height of an economic crisis and political upheaval in May 1998.

The riots, triggered by the fatal shooting of four university students during a protest demanding the resignation of president Soeharto, left more than 1,000 dead and led to the downfall of the authoritarian leader.

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