Thursday, October 23, 2014

General Ryamizard: The Ideologist for Killing Civilians

One of the key Jokowi supporters who turned up at the Palace on Tuesday is General Ryamizard Ryacudu, Indonesia's former army chief.

Ryamizard is a confidant of Jokowi's party leader, Megawati, whom he helped to make president by helping oust her predecessor, Gus Dur.

But Ryamizard's most important distinction is that, within the armed forces (TNI), he has been a leader in rationalizing the mass killing of civilans.

In October, 2004 I reported regarding Ryamizard's army in Aceh:

 "Last week Amnesty International released a report on Aceh noting that 'human rights abuses ... are so pervasive that there is virtually no part of life in the province which remains untouched.' … They spoke of recent 'extrajudicial executions of civilians by the military' -- local activists say hundreds of them -- including 'the unlawful killing of women and children.'"  

When Ryamizard was asked about one of those massacres -- of children, near Bireuen, Aceh, he replied with a joke about fried bananas and tacitly defended the action, saying that women and kids could be killers too. 

As revolting as that statement might have been it was actually less significant than another public declaration -- quoted by Antara, the state press agency (December 8, 2003) -- in which Ryamizard said that civilians become legitimate army targets if they "dislike" army policy or have "the same voice" as anti-government rebels.

Ryamizard clarified the army's definition of what makes a person an enemy when speaking of civilians who were unhappy with the state of siege.

He indicated that anyone who had such feelings would be defined by the army as "GAM," i.e. a member of the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, the Aceh Freedom Movement.

"People who dislike the military emergency in Aceh are GAM members," Gen. Ryamizard said, "So if they have the same voice as GAM members, this will mean that they are the younger brothers of the separatist movement."  

This categorization was hugely significant since the official approach to GAM was: "hunt them down and exterminate them," in the words of the armed forces commander (Gen. Endriartono, May, 2003, quoted by Amnesty).  

Today, the operation in Aceh is over, but killings of civilians continue in Papua and elsewhere, and, as far as one can tell, the Ryamizard doctrine continues in place.

If Jokowi wants to end the practice of killing -- or jailing -- people because the state doesn't like their opinions, he should put generals like Ryamizard on trial, not in higher office

Allan Nairn

For the Antara report quoting Ryamizard on people who dislike the state-of-siege being GAM see Laksamana.Net, December 8, 2003, 8:00am, "Gen. Ryamizard 'With Us or Against Us' Ryacudu," available on .

For the fried bananas/ killing-women-and-children quotes see Time magazine, June 2, 2003 , and my October 21, 2014 piece "Red Marks Next to Their Names: Is Jokowi Serious About Being Clean?").

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