“The New TNI Commander Must Be Clean from Records of Human Rights Violations”

Imparsial Live Press

On November 8, TNI Commander Hadi Tjanjanto will retire from military service. As stated in Article 53 of Law no. 34 of 2004 concerning the Indonesian National Army that "Soldiers carry out soldiering services" up to a maximum age of 58 (fifty-eight) years for officers and 53 (fifty-three) years for non-commissioned officers and enlisted men.” Thus, the President as head of state and head of government needs to immediately determine the candidate for the new TNI Commander.

We view that the process of changing TNI commanders that will take place should be used by the President as a momentum to push back the reform agenda of the TNI, which is currently stagnant. In the context of this objective, the candidate for the Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces chosen by the President is expected not only to be able to encourage the development of a stronger and more professional TNI, but also to have a commitment to carry out the TNI reform agenda which has not yet been implemented. The TNI reform process, which has been initiated since 1998 until now, has indeed produced a number of positive achievements, such as the abolition of the dual-function of ABRI, the prohibition for the TNI to engage in politics and business, and so on. completed and still leaves some important homework, such as reform of the military justice system, abolition of territorial commands, etc.

In addition, although the process of replacing the TNI Commander in Chief is the prerogative right of the President, he should still observe and consider various views and suggestions that are developing in the public. The election of the TNI Commander in Chief does not only have implications for the internal dynamics of the TNI, but also for the interests of society in general. Therefore, it is important for the President to listen, observe, and consider the views and aspirations of the people.

In this regard, we view that the president must avoid the pattern of changing the TNI Commander in Chief with the political nuances of proximity. The president must use a normative and substantive approach rather than a purely political approach. Based on a normative approach, the pattern of changing TNI commanders prioritizes inter-dimensional rotation where the TNI commanders are held in rotation. Referring to Article 13 paragraph (4) of the TNI Law which states that the position of Commander of the TNI can be held alternately by active high-ranking officers from each force who are currently or have served as Chief of Staff of the Forces. The application of the rotation pattern will foster a sense of equality between dimensions and have a positive impact on strengthening the solidity of the TNI. In addition, the rotation pattern is important in order to reduce the jealousy that is very likely to occur among soldiers due to the impression that one of the dimensions is the golden child in the TNI. The pattern of rotation of the position of the TNI Commander, which has been started since the beginning of the Reformation, certainly needs to be maintained, especially since it has also been mandated in the TNI Law.

While the substantive approach is an approach that places the process of replacing the TNI Commander in Chief which emphasizes his capacity and capability in leading the TNI. In this case, the President can ask for input from various parties such as Komnas for Women, Komnas HAM, KPK, academics , civil society and others to assess the quality of the existing TNI commander candidates. While the political approach interprets the replacement as only giving positions to those closest to the circle of power, the main consideration factor is political advantage.

We believe that future TNI commanders must have a commitment to democracy, civil supremacy, and the protection and promotion of human rights. In this context, the President must carefully examine the track record of each candidate for the Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces to ensure that he does not have a bad record, especially regarding human rights violations. The news that links the name of one of the candidates for the TNI Commander in Chief to the murder of Papuan leader Theys Hiyo Eluay must be taken seriously. In this context the President should carry out as much information as possible on all candidates by involving credible institutions in order to strengthen the President's considerations in making the right decisions.

It is the duty of the President to ensure that all future TNI commander candidates must be free from a bad track record, especially free from human rights violations and at the same time not have the potential to hinder the process of resolving cases of human rights violations, such as the settlement of the Talangsari Lampung case, Trisakti, the Semanggi I and II cases, the case of enforced disappearances 1997-1998, the murder case of human rights activist Munir, and others. At this point, the President's credibility and commitment to human rights will be shown with whom Commander of the Armed Forces in the future.

Jakarta, October 6th, 2020

Gufron Mabruri

Contact person:

  1. Gufron Mabruri: (+62 812-1334-0612)
  2. Ardi Manto Adiputra: (+62 812-6194-4069)
  3. Hussein Ahmad: (081259668926)

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