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22 civil society groups reject honorary 4-star general rank for Prabowo

CNN Indonesia - February 28, 2024

Jakarta – Scores of civil society organisations have expressed their opposition to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's decision to award Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto with an honorary rank of four-star general.

The Coalition believes that the policy is a transactional electoral political move and that Widodo wants to annul Prabowo's involvement in past gross human rights violations.

"With regard to this decision, the Civil Society Coalition condemns giving an honorary promotion in rank (HOR) of four-star general to Prabowo Subianto. This is not right, but also injures the feelings of the victims and betrays the 1998 reformasi [process]", said the groups in a written statement on Wednesday February 28.

The Coalition is making five recommendations. First, that Widodo cancel giving the honorary rank to Prabowo.

Second, that the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) must seriously investigate the cases of crimes and gross human rights violations committed by Prabowo. Third, the Attorney General must conduct a criminal investigation into and prosecute cases of gross human rights violations in 1997-98.

"The government, in this case the president and his officials, must pursue the DPR's [House of Representatives] 2009 recommendations, namely forming an ad hoc Human Rights Court, finding the 13 abduction victims that are still missing, rehabilitating and providing compensation to the families of the missing victims and ratifying the Convention Against Enforced Disappearances", said the Coalition.

Fifth, the TNI-Polri (Indonesian military-Indonesian police) must maintain neutrality and not be involved in political activities.

The opposition to Prabowo's honorary rank was conveyed by 22 organisations. They are the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial), the Indonesian Association of the Families of Missing Persons (IKOHI), Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and the Community Legal Aid Institute (LBHM).

Then the Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), Centra Initiative, the Lokataru Foundation for Human Rights, Amnesty International Indonesia, Public Virtue, the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy and Migrant Care.

The Institute for Ecosoc Rights, Greenpeace Indonesia, the Public Interest Lawyers Network (Pil-NET Indonesia), Kontras Surabaya, the Banten Legal Aid Foundation for Justice (LBH Keadilan), the Institute for Legal Development and Human Rights (LPSHAM) and the Kontras Federation.

President Widodo has denied that awarding Prabowo with an honorary rank of four-star general is a reciprocal move and a form of transactional politics.

"Yeah, if was transactional politics we would have given it to him before the elections", said Widodo after attending a TNI-Polri leadership meeting in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on Wednesday February 28.

"This is after the elections, right, so there wouldn't be any suspicions like that", he added.

Widodo explained that giving the honorary rank to Prabowo was a proposal from the TNI commander which did not come out of the blue but rather through various processes. (dhf/pmg)


In 1997-98 as many as 23 pro-democracy activists were abducted by members of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus). After extended periods of detention – in many cases the victims were severely tortured – most were released although 13 remain missing and are presumed dead. Former Kopassus commander Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto, who was at the time President Suharto's son-in-law, has admitted to ordering the abductions but claims they were all released alive and well. He was subsequently dismissed from the military over the abductions but has never been tried in court.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Ramai-ramai Tolak Pangkat Jenderal Kehormatan Prabowo".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20240228112657-32-1068184/ramai-ramai-tolak-pangkat-jenderal-kehormatan-prabow