Thu, 27 Apr 2000

Tyasno apologizes for Army's past mistakes

JAKARTA (JP): Army Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto delivered an apology to the nation on Wednesday for "Army troops' past mistakes" and pledged such actions would not be repeated in the future.

"In my capacity as the Army chief of staff, I officially apologize to people for Army troops' past mistakes," Tyasno was quoted by Antara news agency as saying in the Central Java capital of Semarang.

Tyasno did not elaborate on what he meant by "past mistakes", but many believe the Army was involved in a number of human rights abuses during the rule of former president Soeharto.

Tyasno assured the apology was "sincere" and promised the Army would "not repeat the same mistakes in the future".

He also said the Army would support the government's efforts to settle past human rights abuses through a truth and reconciliation commission, and that his troops would comply with the Constitution and uphold law and democracy.

Tyasno appeared to stress that while past mistakes should not be forgotten, it was more important to look to the future.

He urged against being fixated on the past and aggravating past errors by seeking vengeance, while overlooking the tremendous challenges the nation faces for the future.

Tyasno's statement came only days after the Indonesian Military (TNI)'s top brass met to map out the organization's future, with promises of abandoning its sociopolitical role and concentrating solely on defense affairs.

TNI Commander Adm. Widodo A.S. said last week the military "is out of politics now and we will concentrate on defending the nation".

He also said all soldiers were committed to abandoning politics, and that any soldier who wanted to be active in politics had to retire from the military.

Many believe the Army was in the past misused by Soeharto to suppress dissidents, leading to a number of human rights abuses.

Last year's violence in East Timor and military atrocities committed during a decade-long antirebel operation in the troubled province of Aceh are among a number of high-profile cases currently being investigated. (byg)