Rights activists are calling for President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the House of Representatives to reprimand Indonesian Military Chief Gatot Nurmantyo for a claim he made during an event at TNI headquarters in East Jakarta on Friday night (22/09) that “an institution outside the TNI has procured 5,000 weapons illegally.”
Al Araf, director of rights watchdog Imparsial, said the TNI chief should have understood that any intelligent information should never be communicated in public, but directly submitted to the president as the “end-user.”
“This could be political maneuvering by the TNI chief, though we don’t know what his ultimate goal is yet,” Araf told reporters on Monday.
He urged President Jokowi to dismiss Gatot and appoint a new TNI chief.
Araf said Gatot’s claim is not based on proof, as suggested by a swift official denial from the chief security minister, Wiranto, on Sunday.
Gatot himself said he did not make the statement in an official context and has refused to get into a slanging match over the veracity of his claim.
“I never issued a press release [regarding the illegal weapons]. I only told a bunch of retired army generals, but the news came out. I won’t respond [to reactions over my claim],” Gatot said at the TNI headquarters in East Jakarta on Sunday, as quoted by state news agency Antara.
Gatot did confirm video and audio recordings of his statement — that quickly went viral on social media — were accurate.
“They were indeed my words, a thousand percent. But I never issued a press release, so I don’t have to respond [if people disagree],” Gatot added.
Gatot also said reporters should ask the chief security minister himself to confirm if there has been a lack of communication between the TNI, the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the National Police.
On Friday, Gatot had said the TNI will take a firm action if the alleged procurement of illegal weapons had turned out to be true, even if the perpetrators were rogue elements in the TNI or the police.
Gatot claimed that according to his sources the institution that is trying to bring the weapons into Indonesia illegally had used Jokowi’s name to expedite the process.
Chief Security Minister Wiranto held a press conference on Sunday evening in his office to calm the situation down.
He said the information from the TNI chief was not connected to urgent security issues in Indonesia.
“It’s only a miscommunication between institutions, information has not gone through the right channel,” Wiranto said.
Wiranto said he had spoken with the TNI, BIN and the National Police to find out if Gatot’s claim had any truth to it.
“BIN had ordered 500 non-TNI grade weapons from state-owned arms manufacturer Pindad to be used in intelligence training. They had never ordered 5000 TNI-grade weapons,” the minister said.
Wiranto said an order like that only needs police permission, not one from the TNI or the president.