In­done­sia picks con­tro­ver­sial ex-gen­eral as se­cu­rity min­is­ter

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A CON­TRO­VER­SIAL for­mer mil­i­tary chief ac­cused of atroc­i­ties dur­ing In­done­sia’s bru­tal oc­cu­pa­tion of East Ti­mor was ap­pointed the coun­try’s top se­cu­rity min­is­ter yes­ter­day, with ac­tivists call­ing it a step back­ward for hu­man rights.

Wi­ranto, named to the pow­er­ful post in a cabi­net reshuf­fle, is among se­nior of­fi­cers in­dicted by United Na­tions pros­e­cu­tors over gross hu­man rights abuses dur­ing the 24-year oc­cu­pa­tion of tiny Ti­mor Leste.

Around 100,000 peo­ple are es­ti­mated to have been killed, mainly by In­done­sian forces and their prox­ies, or died of star­va­tion and ill­ness dur­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion, which oc­curred dur­ing dic­ta­tor Suharto’s three­decade rule.

Mr Wi­ranto, who like many In­done­sians goes by one name, was head of the armed forces when the In­done­sian army and paramil­i­taries went

on a bloody ram­page in East Ti­mor after it voted to be­come in­de­pen­dent in 1999.

He de­nies any wrong­do­ing and has never faced court over the al­leged atroc­i­ties.

He re­places Luhut Pan­jai­tan in the key role of chief se­cu­rity min­is­ter, over­see­ing five min­istries in­clud­ing for­eign, in­te­rior and de­fence. Ob­servers sug­gest Mr Pan­jai­tan caused con­cern among the mil­i­tary elite and Is­lamic groups by tak­ing un­prece­dented steps to probe a bloody 1960s purge of com­mu­nists and their sup­port­ers.

“It is a set­back,” An­dreas Har­sono, In­done­sia re­searcher for Hu­man Rights Watch, told AFP.

“The mes­sage might be that Pres­i­dent Jokowi is not go­ing to be as pro­gres­sive as be­fore in pur­su­ing his hu­man rights agenda.”

Mr Pan­jai­tan moved to the post of co­or­di­nat­ing min­is­ter for mar­itime af­fairs, still a key job at a time In­done­sia is em­broiled in rows with China over the South China Sea.

De­spite the claims against him, Mr Wi­ranto has man­aged to main­tain a prom­i­nent po­si­tion in In­done­sian public life. In 2014 elec­tions he was a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, al­though did not make it to the runoff, and in 2009 he was the run­ning mate of Jusuf Kalla, the cur­rent vice pres­i­dent.

East Ti­mor for­mally be­came in­de­pen­dent in 2002.

Mr Wi­dodo an­nounced 13 changes to his cabi­net in the reshuf­fle, his sec­ond since tak­ing power in 2014.

An­other key ap­point­ment is that of prom­i­nent re­formist Sri Mulyani In­drawati, cur­rently a World Bank man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, to the post of fi­nance min­is­ter. She pre­vi­ously held the post in 2005-10. –

Photo: AFP

Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Wi­ranto (right) and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Sri Mulyani at­tend a cer­e­mony as Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo an­nounces his new cabi­net at the pres­i­den­tial palace in Jakarta yes­ter­day.

Photo: EPA

In­done­sia Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo swears in the new cabi­net min­is­ters at the pres­i­den­tial palace in Jakarta yes­ter­day.

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