NGOs condemn Yudhoyono for breaking his promises on Aceh

Source – November 18, 2004
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gives press conference (Kompas)
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gives press conference (Kompas)

Astrid Felicia Lim, Jakarta – The extension of the state of civil emergency in Aceh by the government though Presidential Decree Number 2/2004 has been condemned by three non-government organisations (NGOs) who believe that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has broken his promise to resolve the conflict in Aceh peacefully.

This was conveyed by the three NGOs – the Centre for Electoral Reform (Cetro), the Aceh Working Group (AWG) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) – at a press conference at the offices of Indonesia Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) on Jalan Diponegoro in Central Jakarta on Thursday November 18.

“AWG and Cetro have noted that a number of human rights violations occurred in Aceh during the period of the civil emergency six months ago including the death of 80 people, 36 people going missing, 15 people arrested and 194 people being tortured”, revealed Cetro’s executive director Smita Notosusanto

As a result she continued, the grounds given for extending the civil emergency in order to maintain a conducive situation and overcome the problems of security are erroneous and moreover will add to the appalling casualties which have already resulted from the policy of implementing a civil emergency in Aceh.

“So the government and the DPR [People’s Representative Assembly] should think through other steps which can really take into consideration the casualties which are being incurred. Because of this AWG and Cetro condemn the extension of the civil emergency in Aceh and demand that the government open up access to information and monitoring on the upholding of human rights and [enforcement] of law in Aceh”, said Notosusanto.

AWG and Cetro are also urging the government to resolve the Aceh conflict though dialogue with civil society and to prepare the way for a transition towards a peace process because at the moment there is no clarity as to whether the civil emergency will return Aceh to a peaceful situation as it was before the conflict. “We are also asking if the decision is related with the upcoming local government elections. Because under a civil emergency it is impossible to have free elections in Aceh”, said Notosusanto.

AWG coordinator Rusdi Marpaung believes the decision to again extend the state of civil emergency in Aceh fails to take into account of the realities of the previous period of civil emergency. “SBY’s promise for change, particularly to the Acehnese people was just an empty gesture. Meanwhile 70 per cent of voters during the presidential election voted for SBY. This will disappoint them greatly”, he said.

The head of Kontras’ working body Edwin Partogi is of the view that the extension of the civil emergency in Aceh contradicts SBY’s promises during the presidential election campaign, especially with regard to what SBY said to the Acehnese people on September 4 in Lhokseumawe.

“There, SBY promised to resolve [the conflict in] Aceh peacefully and through dialogue with GAM [Free Aceh Movement]. But not one of these promises has been fulfilled by SBY and this will definitely increase the Acehnese people’s disappointment with the government”, he said.

“So Kontras is urging the government to review the decision to extend the civil emergency in Aceh and that the government and GAM return to the negotiating table”, asserted Partogi. (sss)

[Translated by James Balowski.]