Home » President Jokowi gives the rank of honorary general to Prabowo, human rights activists and researchers oppose it

President Jokowi gives the rank of honorary general to Prabowo, human rights activists and researchers oppose it

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President Jokowi gives the rank of honorary general to Prabowo, human rights activists and researchers oppose it

Image source, Antara Foto


President Joko Widodo (center) accompanied by Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto (right) and TNI Commander General TNI Agus Subianto (left) after conferring the rank of Honorary TNI General at the 2024 TNI and Polri Leadership Meeting (Rapim) at TNI Headquarters, Jakarta, Wednesday (28 /2/2024).

February 28, 2024

President Joko Widodo awarded the title of Honorary General to Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Wednesday (28/02). Researchers question this decision, while families of victims of serious human rights violations and activists firmly reject it.

The honorary military promotion was awarded at the TNI-Polri Leadership Meeting at TNI Headquarters Cilangkap, Jakarta, Wednesday (28/02) morning.

“The awarding has gone through verification by the Council for Degrees, Service Certificates and Honors. And, the indication of receiving the star award is in accordance with Law Number 20 of 2009,” said Jokowi.

“Based on the TNI Commander’s proposal, I agreed to give him a special promotion in the form of an Honorary TNI General [untuk Prabowo].”

This promotion is stated in Presidential Decree Number 13/TNI/2024 which was issued on February 21.

Previously, Prabowo’s last rank was Lieutenant General (Ret.) or three stars.

Thus, the former Commander General of Kopassus and Commander of Kostrad now holds four stars.

Previously, the spokesperson for the Minister of Defense, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, said that this special promotion took into account Prabowo’s contribution to the progress of Indonesia’s military and defense world.

In 2022, Prabowo received four honorary awards from the TNI commander and three TNI chiefs of staff. One of them is the Bintang Yudha Dharma Utama, which was awarded for Prabowo’s services in the defense sector.

Dahnil also emphasized that in 1998 Prabowo was not fired, but was honorably dismissed, so he was entitled to receive the title of Honorary General.

“He quit with honor, and got a pension first, so there are no problems,” said Dahnil, as reported Second.

Questioning the validity of Prabowo’s promotion

After the rank award ceremony, President Jokowi said that awarding the rank of Honorary General was a normal thing.

Previously, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan also received special promotions, added Jokowi.

“This is something that is commonplace in the TNI and Polri,” said the head of state.

Made Supriatma, a researcher at the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, said that Prabowo’s promotion cannot be compared with Luhut and SBY.

“Very different. Luhut and SBY once got it [kenaikan pangkat istimewa]but they never got a stop, never checked by DKP [Dewan Kehormatan Perwira] with an extraordinary decision,” Made said to BBC News Indonesia on Wednesday (28/2).

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Image source, ANTARA FOTO/Sigid Kurniawan


President Joko Widodo (left) conferred the rank of Honorary TNI General on Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto.

For the record, after the authoritarian president Soeharto resigned on May 21 1998, Baharuddin Jusuf Habibie was appointed president.

Just a day later, Habibie asked ABRI Commander Wiranto to remove Prabowo from his position as commander of Kostrad.

This was done after Habibie heard news about the secret movement of Kostrad troops to surround Jakarta, as written in the book Decisive Moments. Indonesia’s Long Road to Democracy (2006).

Prabowo was then transferred to become commander of the ABRI Command and Staff College, before being dismissed from military service in August 1998 through a direct announcement by Wiranto based on considerations from the DKP.

In the DKP’s consideration, there are allegations that Prabowo committed criminal acts of kidnapping and detaining several activists at that time, disciplinary actions, and violations of military norms, referring to notes from LBH Jakarta.

After that, Habibie issued Presidential Decree Number 62 of 1998 regarding Prabowo’s dismissal. However, it says that Prabowo was dismissed “honorably”.

“Now, TNI Headquarters is proposing [kenaikan pangkat Prabowo]. “Has TNI Headquarters ever revoked or created an honorary team of officers that is the same as the team that existed in 1998, then revoked the DKP decision in 1998?” said Made, who is also a member of the knowledge council of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI).

Until now, the DKP decision is still in effect. Therefore, said Made, those who were members of the 1998 DKP, including Subagyo Hadi Siswoyo, SBY, Agum Gumelar, and Fachrul Razi, must be able to take responsibility for that decision.

“If Habibie was a civilian president, he could have said that [memberhentikan dengan hormat]. But what about within the TNI itself? “This DKP decision has never been annulled,” said Made.

“I think this is another violation of national norms committed by President Jokowi.”

Rejection by families of victims of human rights violations

The Civil Society Coalition (KMS) firmly condemns the awarding of the four-star Honorary General rank to Prabowo Subianto.

KMS includes various civil organizations, including the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), the Indonesian Family Association of Missing Persons (IKOHI), Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), Amnesty International Indonesia, and Imparsial.

“This is not only inappropriate but also hurts the victim’s feelings and betrays the 1998 Reformation,” said KMS in a written statement received by BBC News Indonesia on Wednesday (28/02).

Giving the title of Honorary General to Prabowo Subianto was called a “wrong step”.

“This title is not appropriate considering that the person concerned has a bad track record in his military career, especially regarding his involvement in past gross violations of human rights,” said KMS.

“Giving this title is more of a political step in electoral transactions from President Joko Widodo who annulled his involvement in past serious human rights violations.”

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In 2018, secret United States documents released to the public by the National Security Archives (NSA) stated that Prabowo ordered Kopassus to forcibly disappear a number of activists in 1998.

In one document dated May 7 1998, a conversation between a political staff member at the US Embassy in Jakarta and a student organization leader was recorded.

The source admitted that he had received information that the forced disappearance was carried out by Group 4 Kopassus which was controlled by Prabowo.

“The disappearance was ordered by Prabowo who was following orders from President Soeharto,” the document said.

There were 13 people who disappeared in 1998 and whose news is still unclear: Dedy Hamdun, Nova Al Katiri, Ismail, Yani Afri, Sony, Hermawan Hendrawan, Hendra Hambali, M. Yusuf, Petrus Bima Anugrah, Suyat, Ucok Munandar Siahaan, Yadin Muhidin , and Wiji Tukul.

At an event in Jakarta on January 27, Prabowo also admitted that he had pursued the 1998 activists, while apologizing to them, especially Budiman Sudjatmiko and Agus Jabo who were present at the event.

Agus, who is the general chairman of the Adil Makmur People’s Party (Prima), and Budiman are part of the campaign team of Prabowo and Gibran Rakabuming Raka in the 2024 presidential election.

“Agus Jabo, chairman of Prima, I’m sorry I chased you first. In the past. On orders. I was stubborn at first,” said Prabowo.

“Then Brother Budiman Sudjatmiko. I’m sorry too, Man, I used to chase you too. But I’ve apologized to you, okay?”

Image source, AFP


Archive photo of Prabowo Subianto when he was still a Lieutenant General leading Kopassus, on March 20 1998.

In 2006, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) designated cases of enforced disappearance as serious human rights violations.

The results of the investigation by the Komnas HAM ad hoc team also showed suspicions of Prabowo’s involvement, and recommended that the case of enforced disappearance be tried in a human rights court. Until now, this recommendation has not been followed up by the Attorney General’s Office.

Apart from that, in 2009, the DPR issued four recommendations regarding cases of enforced disappearances for the 1997-1998 period, one of which was for the president to establish an ad hoc human rights court. Until now, this has not materialized.

“President Joko Widodo’s series of actions, which often provide appreciation and red carpets for suspected perpetrators of human rights crimes in Indonesia, have certainly helped strengthen the shackles of impunity in our motherland,” said KMS in a written statement.

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Examining Jokowi’s political motives

President Joko Widodo dismissed the notion that giving the rank of Honorary General to Prabowo Subianto was a political transaction.

“Yes, if it’s a political transaction, we’ll just give it before the election. This is after the election so there won’t be any assumptions like that,” said Jokowi after the ranking ceremony.

However, Siti Zuhro, senior political researcher from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), said otherwise.

“There’s no need to question that. It’s very clear,” said Siti.

Image source, Antara Foto


Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto (right) accompanied by TNI Commander General TNI Agus Subiyanto (left) and National Police Chief General Pol Listyo Sigit Prabowo (center) using a car to check defense equipment at TNI Headquarters, Jakarta, Wednesday (28/2/2024).

According to Siti, by giving Prabowo what he wants to become a general, Jokowi is trying to maintain influence or status quo in the next government, which based on the results of quick calculations by a number of survey institutions will be led by Prabowo.

“This is part of Jokowi’s big effort to prepare for life after no longer serving as president, which can be traced in his footsteps from advancing his son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, to becoming a vice presidential candidate to joining the guerrilla campaign to form a government coalition at the executive and legislative levels,” said Siti.

Previously, Dradjad Wibowo, a member of the Prabowo-Gibran campaign team’s expert council, said Jokowi would play an important role in forming the next government cabinet.

Dradjad said, this is important to smooth the transition of government and ensure the continuity of Jokowi’s legacy programs.

For Siti, this is not only about program sustainability.

“So [Jokowi] thinking about what post-government would be like. “Continuation is not just the program, but the continuation of his reign as well,” said Siti.

“From the start, Jokowi’s girls were extraordinary. In my opinion, he tried to perfect his girls, from the initial stages to the formation stage. [kabinet].”

According to Ujang Komarudin, a political observer from Indonesia’s Al Azhar University, this promotion could also be an effort to consolidate the TNI to support Prabowo, who now holds the rank of honorary general.

“Because we know that many retired military personnel are divided into many camps,” said Ujang.

“It could be that the award of the four-star rank is part of the consolidation of the TNI in the context of fully supporting Prabowo Subianto.”

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