Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
Media release 27 October 2014
New Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, a cause for concern
There is cause for concern at the appointment of Ryamizard Ryacudu as Defense Minister in the Jokowi Cabinet. He has held a hardline view on what are termed separatists in Indonesian.
He was Army chief of staff between 2002 and 2005 and chief of the Army’s strategic command (Kostrad) between 2000 and 2002.
He was involved in operations against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Free Papuan Movement (OPM).
Chief Theys Eluay was the chairperson of the Papuan Presidium Council and was killed by Kopassus soldiers on 10 November 2001, shortly after attending an event at the Kopassus base near Jayapura. His body was found the following day showing signs of strangulation. Although at first the military denied its involvement in the killing eventually members of the army's special Kopassus forces were put on trial. A military court on Monday the 21 April 2003, found seven Kopassus special forces soldiers guilty of involvement in the death of Chief Theys Eluay. However, the soldiers received light sentences of imprisonment ranging from two to three-and-a-half years.
General Ryamizard Ryacudu who was chief of staff at the time is quoted as saying,
'I don't know, people say they did wrong, they broke the law. What law? Okay, we are a state based on the rule of law, so they have been punished. But for me, they are heroes because the person they killed was a rebel leader.'
Joe Collins of AWPA said, "The people of West Papua live in fear of security operations in the territory and the appointment of Ryamizard Ryacudu as Defense Minister can only add to this fear. There was some hope that the election of Jokiwi would bring an easing of tension in West Papua but with Ryamizard Ryacudu's appointment it looks like there could be a continuation of solving issues of concern in West Papua by the security approach, not by dialogue. Business as usual?"