28 Oct 2014

New Indonesian defence minister a 'blow to human rights'

7:29 am on 28 October 2014

A human rights group has condemned the appointment of the new Indonesian Minister of Defence, saying his record spells bad news for West Papua.

Joko Widodo made a victory speech calling for unity.

Joko Widodo made a victory speech calling for unity. Photo: AFP

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) says the appointment of retired General, Ryamizard Ryacudu, proves that the newly-inaugurated President Joko Widodo is not serious about promoting human rights.

The ETAN coordinator John Miller, says General Ryacudu is a relic of the past with a history of excusing rights violations by soldiers, threatening human rights critics, and asserting the military's right to meddle in civilian affairs.

Mr Miller says Indonesia's anti-corruption agencies vetted cabinet nominees at President Widodo's request, and he rejected several based on their recommendations.

While campaigning, the President said he would open a new dialogue with West Papua.