in the News:
Some of the
coverage of ETAN's opposition to the appointment
of former Army Chief of Staff Ryamizard
Ryacudu as Indonesia's Minister of Defense,
in English. Portuguese and Bahasa Indonesian.
Appointment of Retired General Ryamizard
Ryacudu as Defense Minister
Contact: John M. Miller,
ETAN, +1-917-690-4391, +1-718-596-7668
Ryamizard Ryacudu is a relic
of the past with a history of excusing
rights violations by soldiers, threatening
human rights critics, and asserting
the military's right to meddle in
October 26, 2014 -
The East Timor and Indonesia Action
Network (ETAN) today condemned Indonesia
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's appointment
of retired General Ryamizard Ryacudu as
"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.
"He is a relic of the
past with a history of excusing rights violations
by soldiers, threatening human rights critics,
and asserting the military's right to meddle
in civilian affairs."
Miller added, "While fighting corruption
may be a priority for his 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."
agencies vetted cabinet nominees at President
Widodo request. He rejected several based
on their recommendations.
While campaigning President Widodo
positively to some calls for justice
for past human rights violations, including
from 1998. He has also said he would
open a new dialogue with West Papua.
In a statement
in late June human rights groups urged
the next government of Indonesia "to break
with the past [and] fully and meaningfully
address the legacy of impunity for past
human rights violations," adding that "the
continued lack of accountability for past
and ongoing violations of human rights threatens
Background on Ryamizard Ryacudu
(right) with Retired General Ryamizard
Ryacudu (left) is known for his
General Ryamizard Ryacudu is a hardliner
known for his xenophobic remarks and criticisms
of rights activists. He has expressed doubts
about civilian supremacy over the military.
Indonesian human rights activist Usman Hamid
wrote that Ryamizard is "widely known
for his hard-line stance on human rights
and separatism without considering government
He 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,
Later that year, Ryamizard said that
anyone who opposes army policy should be
considered an anti-government rebel and
therefore a legitimate target.
Allan Nairn writes:
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.
"'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.'
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, May, 2003, quoted by
After the conviction
of several Kopassus special forces members
for the murder of West Papuan leader Theys
said that "I don't know,
people say they did wrong, they broke the
law. What law? Okay, we are a state based
on the rule of law, so they have been punished.
But for me, they are heroes because the
person they killed was a rebel leader."
Ryamizard is close to former president
Megawati Sukarnoputri, who heads Widodo's
political party, the Indonesian Democratic
Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Ryamizard as
Kostrad commander mobilized troops in central
Jakarta on July 22, 2001 as parliament was
impeach President Wahid 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.
Power Politics and the Indonesian Military
(pp. 184-5), Damien Kingsbury
"By morning, a
series of tanks, armoured cars and armed
soldiers encircled the base of the National
Monument in the centre of the square;
further tanks, armoured cars and soldiers
guarded the main entrances to the area,
with police in front of the MPR building
and more soldiers and armoured vehicles
in front of the presidential palace.
In all, there were some 2,000 soldiers,
35 tanks and 25 armoured cars, and many
of the tanks had their guns pointing
at the relatively few supporters of
the beleaguered president and at the
presidential palace itself. It was not
a coup, but equally it was perfectly
clear that the army would not allow
the removal of the president from office
to be marred by any unforseen difficulties.
It was not, and Megawati became president
on 23 July 2001."
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.
East Timor and Indonesia Action
Network (ETAN) was founded in
1991. ETAN supports democracy, human rights
and justice in Timor-Leste, West Papua and