Indonesian leader says locked gates contributed to deaths of more than 1,000 people in 2015
Indonesian army and police shot dead at least 1,000 people in a crackdown on a banned independence movement in 2015, the head of Indonesia’s army has said.
General Gatot Nurmantyo, the supreme commander of the armed forces and a staunch ally of President Joko Widodo, said he had witnessed the mass killings in August 2015 and that the army had used “brutal methods”.
Since he was elected president in 2014, Mr Widodo has overseen the introduction of a security force seen as a bulwark against Islamist terrorism.
In a report released by the defence ministry on Saturday, General Gatot said army helicopters had fired “large and medium caliber” rounds from helicopters and heavy machine guns onto crowds in August after he had requested “appropriate force” from the military command to stop the killings and to secure the area.
He said that the military had fired from its armoured vehicles at crowds during the crackdown, killing between 1,500 and 1,600 people. He said the military had also detained more than 1,000 members of the outlawed movement in September.
During a joint press conference with General Gatot on Saturday, President Joko Widodo said he had called for an investigation “into what went wrong” and said: “I will carry out the investigation to ensure that justice is served.” The military has already opened a formal investigation into the killings.
An earlier report by the defence ministry, released in September, said that more than 1,000 people were killed in the crackdown in the cities of Surabaya in East Java, Bekasi in West Java, and Jakarta in the central Java island of Solo.
After the massacre, General Gatot said that the army had opened fire to “save lives”, adding that he had also personally witnessed the killings in Surabaya, Bekasi and Jakarta.
“I have seen in the photographs and from all the evidence the army did use brutal methods,” he added.
The general said President Joko was under pressure from the military to make the army the main provider of security in an era of terror and violence, and that he had backed the idea of a more professionalised army.