‘They can’t control their wives’: Minister defends demotion of military officers for their wives’ social media posts about Wiranto’s attack

Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu. Photo: Reuters
Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu. Photo: Reuters

Last week’s violent attack on chief security minister Wiranto has had several unexpected repercussions in Indonesia, including sanctions for those who commented on the incident in a negative manner on social media.

According to reports, two members of the Indonesian army — one a colonel named Hendi Suhendi and the other a sergeant, identified by his initial Z— as well as an Air Force Military Police officer, identified by his initials YNS, were demoted as a result of their wives posting on social media to either ridicule the attack on Wiranto or imply that the incident was orchestrated.

Furthermore, the military officers have been placed in military detention for 14 days each, while their wives may be charged with violation of the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), under which posting defamatory content online is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison.

Related: Indonesian musician Jerinx’s Twitter account ‘temporarily restricted’ after questioning Wiranto’s attack


Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu — a former military general — said the punishments given to the officers were completely justified.

“That’s the risk. It means that they can’t control their wives. Wives must be given advice on all sorts of things,” Ryamizard said in Jakarta today, as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

The minister then went on to say that the officers, through their wives, violated the military’s code of ethics.

“There are rules to everything,” he said.

In an interview with local media, Hendi Suhendi, who lost his post as the head of the Kendari Military District Command in South Sulawesi, said he and his family accepted his punishment and that he remains loyal to the military.

The attack on Wiranto

Two members of an Islamic State group-linked terror network stabbed Indonesia’s chief security minister Wiranto last Thursday, sending the powerful politician to emergency surgery for his wounds.

Television images showed security officers wrestling a man and woman to the ground in Pandeglang, West Java after Wiranto was attacked as he was exiting a vehicle.

The suspects were identified as 31-year-old Syahril Alamsyah and Fitri Andriana, 21 — a married couple, according to local media.

They were members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), an extremist group responsible for deadly suicide bombings at churches in Surabaya last year, State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Budi Gunawan told reporters in Jakarta. 

JAD is among dozens of radical groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State (IS) group in Indonesia, which has long struggled with Islamist militancy.

Wiranto, 72 — who police have said was one of several targets in an earlier failed assassination plot — was rushed by helicopter to the capital, where he was treated for two knife wounds in his stomach. 

The assassination attempt comes just over a week before Jokowi kicks off a second term as leader of the Southeast Asian archipelago, which is the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation with some 260 million people.

Three others — a local police chief and two aides — also suffered knife wounds after Thursday’s attack but authorities said they had non-life-threatening injuries. 

Wiranto, the retired chief of the armed forces and a failed presidential candidate, was appointed to his post in 2016 and oversees several departments, including the foreign affairs and defense ministries.

He has faced controversy over alleged human rights violations and allegations of crimes against humanity linked to Indonesia’s brutal occupation of East Timor.

In May, police said Wiranto and three other top officials were targeted in a failed assassination plot linked to deadly riots in Jakarta after Jokowi’s re-election victory.

A group of six people — arrested before they could carry out the killings — planned to murder the officials and an election pollster in a bid to plunge the country into chaos, police said at the time.

With additional reporting by AFP

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