Indonesia’s new President, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, has appointed retired general Ryazamid Ryacudu as Indonesia’s Defence Minister.
This is a bitter blow to the West Papuans and other peoples who have suffered at the hands of the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI).
Joko Widodo, before being elected president, promised the West Papuans that he would allow greater access to overseas journalists and that there would be a greater chance for greater dialogue.
By appointing Ryamazid as defence minister, the President has effectively broken his promise. When Ryamazid was a general, he was noted for being a hardliner. He organised repressive programs against those calling for freedom in Acheh and West Papua and for human rights activists within Indonesia itself. In 2001, after West Papuan independence movement leader Theys Eluay was murdered by TNI soldiers, Ryamazid praised those guilty of the murder.
Indonesia has to do a lot more to respect human rights, bring the perpetrators of human rights abuses to justice and to compensate the victims of TNI brutality.
Australia leaders should honour their sanctimonious mantra about “human rights” and “individual freedoms” and demand that Indonesia respect the right to self-determination of the people of West Papua and the rights of all Indonesian working people.