JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The United States has finally granted Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto an entry visa, 20 years after Washington banned the former Indonesian Army special forces commander for human rights offenses.
“[Prabowo] will be in the United States October 15-19 at the invitation of US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper,” Indonesian Defense Ministry spokesman Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak said in a written statement received by Kompas.com on October 9.
“[Prabowo] will carry out tight health protocols, as he has always done on recent overseas trips, during his visit [to the US],” Dahnil noted. “He will carry out swab tests beforehand and will be accompanied by a doctor during the trip.”
The Politico news magazine reported that Prabowo will visit towards the end of the month on its website www.politico.com. But the US State Department declined to comment, citing confidentiality in the granting of visas.
The Deputy Chairman of Prabowo’s political vehicle, the Gerindra Party, said that the US ban ended after President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo appointed him Defense Minister following the former’s re-election in October 2019.
“A number of countries, including the US, have invited Prabowo for business visits since his appointment as Defense Minister,” Dasco noted back on October 29, 2019. “But he could not go as he was still adapting to his [new role] at the Ministry of Defense.”
The New York Times first mentioned Prabowo’s entry ban to the US in 2000, after they reported that the US State Department denied him a visa to enter the country to attend his son’s graduation in Boston.
Prabowo, a former rival of President Jokowi who lost to the former furniture manufacturer in the 2014 and 2019 presidential races, also told Reuters in 2012 that he was still denied entry to the US.
The former three-star general was incriminated in various human rights violations in the last years of his father-in law, then-President Soeharto’s New Order regime and the chaotic transition to democracy that followed.
These included the kidnapping of student activists and complicity in the Trisakti University shooting that killed four students from the university in May 1998, as well as organizing the infamous racially motivated riots in the incident’s wake.
Prabowo continued to deny any wrongdoing.
(Writer: Achmad Nasrudin Yahya | Editor: Diamanty Meiliana)
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