UCA News
Contribute

Indonesian activists in uproar over senior military pick

Appointment of a new military commander for Jakarta sparks a row over human rights violations
Indonesian activists in uproar over senior military pick

Major General Untung Budiharto has been appointed Jakarta's military commander in a move condemned by rights groups who accuse him of committing rights violations. (Photo: National Counterterrorism Agency)

Published: January 10, 2022 09:15 AM GMT
Updated: January 10, 2022 09:18 AM GMT

The appointment of a new military commander for Jakarta has sparked a row in Indonesia after rights groups accused him of taking part in abuses committed during civil unrest more than 20 years ago.

Indonesia’s military chief General Andika Perkasa appointed Major General Untung Budiharto as the Jakarta military commander on Jan. 6.

On Jan. 9, rights groups condemned the appointment, saying Budiharto was a member of a special unit commanded by the current defense minister, Prabowo Subianto, that kidnapped at least 22 pro-democracy activists during civil unrest in 1997 and 1998 before the fall of Suharto's regime.

Of those kidnapped, 13 activists are still missing.

"We wholeheartedly condemn this appointment of a military officer deeply involved in a human rights violation case to such an important position in the military," Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said in a statement.

“The appointment clearly shows there is no accountability within the Indonesian military, which has also shown it is insensitive to the suffering of the victims’ families,” he told UCA News.

This appointment is extremely hurtful to the victims' families. It shows that the state would rather roll out a red carpet to a human rights violator in Indonesia

Hamid pointed to Budiharto having been among several members of the unit, called the Rose Team, who faced a military court over the kidnappings.

They were found guilty but the sentences were kept secret, which left rights groups assuming the punishments were light — even non-existent — and to call the proceedings a sham.  

Fatia Maulidiyanti, from the Commission for Disappeared Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), questioned the government’s commitment to upholding human rights following the appointment.

"From regime to regime, there is no commitment to human rights cases,” Maulidiyanti told UCA News on Jan 8. 

“This appointment is extremely hurtful to the victims' families. It shows that the state would rather roll out a red carpet to a human rights violator in Indonesia.”

Paian Siahaan, the father of Ucok Siahaan, one of the missing activists, expressed dismay. 

"President Joko Widodo has broken his promise to give justice to victims’ families when we met him twice at the Presidential Palace where he said he would resolve the case,” he said.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia