The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) condemns President Joko Widodo’s decision to appoint two former members of Team Mawar, Brigadier General Yulius Selvanus and Brigadier General TNI Dadang Hendrayudha. They became public officials in the Ministry of Defense through Presidential Decree (Keppres) No. 166/2020. This policy reinforces our belief that the Joko Widodo administration is off the track from the reform agenda and puts human rights principles aside in making decisions.
Brigadier General Yulius Selvanus and Brigadier General Dadang Hendrayudha were former members of Team Mawar. During the team’s active period amid a series of pro-reform student demonstrations, they held captain’s rank and carried out the kidnapping and enforced disappearance operations of activists in the New Order era. Whereas for their actions, through the High Military Court (Mahmiliti) II Jakarta, Yulius Selvanus was sentenced to 20 months in prison and dismissed from the ABRI service while Dadang Hendrayudha was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment without dismissal. However, at the appeal stage, Yulius Selvanus’ dismissal was annulled by the judge. As of today, both of them are still serving actively as members of the military.
The appointment of the two former Team Mawar members, added with Prabowo Subianto’s position as the Minister of Defense, shows the vetting mechanism’s ineffectiveness regarding its public officials. It adds to the long list showing how state institutions are currently filled with people involved in various human rights violations. It is difficult to imagine implementing the rule of law that complies with standards and includes resolving cases of gross human rights violations when public officials continue to be filled by the actors responsible for these cases. This negligence by the Government can encourage human rights violations to repeat by perpetuating impunity and risk weakening law enforcement’s meaning as a whole in Indonesia. The decision from President Joko Widodo will also complicate efforts to improve laws in Indonesia, especially those related to human rights such as the ratification of the International Convention for The Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. It will be politically more difficult to attempt these improvements with perpetrators of enforced disappearance in Indonesia having significant government positions.
We conclude several things with this appointment: First, we consider the validity of Presidential Decree number 166 of 2020 to be questionable because it is not in line with Article 5 of Law Number 30 of 2014 concerning Government Administration. The law requires a government administration based on protecting human rights and general principles of good governance. Second, the Joko Widodo administration is increasingly getting off track from the reform agenda by overlooking the track records of past events concerning human rights violations. Third, the appointment of the two former members of the Team Mawar indicates the regressive condition of human rights enforcement lacking preparation of instruments in resolving past human rights violations, such as establishing an Ad Hoc Human Rights Court. Fourth, the appointment and its consequences will further complicate resolving cases of gross human rights violations in the past and the process of legal reform related to the issue of enforced disappearance, such as the process of ratifying the Convention against Enforced Disappearances.
Based on the description and explanation above, we at this moment urge President Joko Widodo:
First, to revoke the Presidential Decree on the appointment of Brigadier General Yulius Selvanus and Brigadier General TNI Dadang Hendrayudha as public officials at the Ministry of Defense, and with no exception to reconsidering the position of Prabowo Subianto as Minister of Defense.
Second, to encourage the Attorney General to follow up on the investigations conducted by National Commission on Human Rights and prosecute alleged perpetrators of past serious human rights violations through an ad hoc human rights court.