Civil emergency in Aceh cannot yet be reduced to civil authority

Tempo Interactive – December 24, 2004
Indonesian troops parachuting into Aceh (Acheh Zone)
Indonesian troops parachuting into Aceh (Acheh Zone)

Jakarta – The head of the Aceh desk at the ministry of politics, legal and security affairs, Police Inspector General Demak Lubis, says that the operation to restore security in Aceh is going well. Nevertheless, “The civil emergency cannot yet be reduced to a [state of] civil authority”, said Lubis during a “Clarification of the Monthly Evaluation During the Civil Emergency” meeting at the offices of the ministry of politics, legal and security affairs in Jakarta on Friday December 24.

The reason is that disturbances by Free Aceh Movement (GAM) forces still have the potential to endanger the situation. Also present at the meeting was the secretary of the ministry of politics, legal and security affairs, Joko Sumaryono, the policy coordinator of the economic operation, Dipo Alam, the policy coordinator for the restoration of security, Haryadi Soetanto, the policy coordinator for law enforcement, Judge Didi Widayadi and the policy coordinator for the humanitarian operation, Dr Riswan.

Lubis noted a number of significant outcomes including the last time security forces succeeded in incapacitating 567 members of GAM. This number includes those who were killed, arrested and surrendered. However, “What is most significant is especially those who surrendered”, said Lubis.

As a result he continued, this already represents 25 per cent of the remaining GAM members who were estimated to exist at the end of the first six-month period of civil emergency1, that is around 2200 people. In addition to this, over a period of one month, security forces seized 147 GAM weapons. Another significant outcome said Lubis, is the creation of a conducive atmosphere during GAM’s anniversary last December 4. According to Lubis, there were no obvious GAM activities in the form of provocative actions against the public which could endanger security.

Widayadi took the occasion to say that in terms of the law enforcement operation, between the period of martial law and the first and second periods of civil emergency the number of GAM members being dealt with by the police and courts had tended to decline. He pointed out that under martial law there was 1943 cases while during the first and second periods of civil emergency only 616 and 59 cases were handled respectively. “So there is a tendency for a decline in [the number of] GAM cases”, said Widayadi.

He explained that the conducive situation during the presidential elections and Idul Fitri (celebrations at end of the Ramadan fasting month) indicates an improved level of security. However, “Cases of corruption have tended to be the reverse. [They have] in fact increased”, he said. The principle problem for enforcing the law continued Widayadi is small number of judges.

Widayadi added that although in the future Aceh’s status will be reduced to a state of civil authority, the deployment of security forces cannot be reduced. “The police force is the pillar there”, he revealed. As a result the need for police personnel under a state of civil authority would be around 6789 personnel. At the moment meanwhile, the number of regency level police units is only 13 of the 21 required. The number of sectoral police units is only 133 of the 228 required and the number of correctional institutions is only 18 of the 22 which are needed.

Riswan meanwhile said that the humanitarian operation in Aceh already involves eight ministerial departments. In general terms he said, the operation has shown a pleasing outcome. According to Riswan, there are a number of basic issues which are related to the humanitarian operation, that is the rehabilitation and rebuilding of public facilities, assistance for farmers and fisherpeople, Islamic affairs, education and dealing with refugees.

In the field of education and Islamic affairs for example, the government has already rebuilt damaged schools, provided assistance to children who have stopped going to school, for orphanages, the topping up Idul Fitri contributions as well as building places of worship. Meanwhile the refugees problem, continued Riswan, is now isolated to three zones that is the regencies of South Aceh, Greater Aceh and West Aceh. (Ewo Raswa – Tempo)


1. Aceh was placed under martial law on May 19, 2003, after Jakarta sabotaged peace talks with GAM. This was reduced to a state civil emergency on November 19 which has been in place since then.

[Translated by James Balowski.]