Alya Nurbaiti, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has appointed six military officers to strategic posts within the Defense Ministry, including two former members of the infamous Tim Mawar (Rose Team) of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus), which was implicated in the notorious forced disappearances of activists in the late 1990s.
Defense Ministry spokesperson Brig. Gen. Djoko Purwanto confirmed the appointments – stipulated by a presidential decree on Wednesday – but said the administrative process was still ongoing.
"The inauguration will take place following the approval of the Indonesian Military [TNI] commander," Djoko said on Friday, referring to TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto.
According to the decree, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, former Tim Mawar member Brig. Gen. Dadang Hendrayudha, who previously served as the head of the general affairs bureau at the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) secretariat, will serve as the Defense Ministry's director general for defense potential.
Brig. Gen. Yulius Selvanus, another former member of Tim Mawar who currently serves at the Praja Vira Tama military command post (Korem) in Sorong, Papua, has been appointed to helm the ministry's strategic defense installation body (Bainstrahan).
The notorious Tim Mawar was implicated in a series of kidnappings and disappearances of prodemocracy activists between 1997 and 1998, at the tail end of the New Order regime, when now-Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto was heading Kopassus.
At least 22 activists were abducted during the period. Nine were eventually returned, and 13 remain missing more than two decades later.
On Aug. 25, 1998, the Armed Forces (ABRI) – since renamed the TNI – honorably discharged then-Lt. Gen. Prabowo Subianto and removed two Kopassus officers from active duty as punishment for their suspected roles in the abduction of prodemocracy activists.
In 1999, the Jakarta High Military Court sentenced the commander of Tim Mawar and all ten of its members to between 12 and 22 months in prison. Five of the members were to be stripped of their positions and discharged from the TNI, including Yulius.
However, after they appealed the court's verdict, none were dismissed.
In 2016, four Tim Mawar members – Dadang, Yulius, Fausani Syahrial Multhazar and Nugroho Sulistyo Budi – were promoted to strategic posts in the government.
Yulius was promoted to head of the Riau Islands branch of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), while Dadang was promoted to a position in the BNPT.
The appointment of Yulius and Dadang to the Defense Ministry came after Prabowo appointed Chairawan Kadarsyah Kadirussalam Nusyirwan, the former commander of Tim Mawar, as one of the ministry's special assistants in December of last year.
Rights activists lambasted the appointment of the military generals to the positions, with Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid saying that Jokowi had violated his own promises to resolve past human rights abuses in the country.
"Instead of bringing the suspects of past human rights abuses to court, the government has placed them in power. Those who are involved in human rights violations should not be given leadership positions in either the military or other structural positions in the government," Usman said.
He demanded that the government immediately investigate past human rights violations, including the cases of the disappeared activists. The government's lack of commitment in settling the cases, Usman said, would only prolong the culture of impunity.