Aceh reverts to civil authority but troop numbers increased

Tempo Interactive – May 17, 2005
Aceh Working Group member Rafendi Djamin pictured centre (asiansil)
Aceh Working Group member Rafendi Djamin pictured centre (asiansil)

Agus Supriyanto, Jakarta – Non-government organisations from the Aceh Working Group (AWG) have welcomed the reduction of the state of civil emergency in Aceh to one of a civil authority that will begin on May 18. They support the position taken by the government and are urging other state insinuations such as the TNI (armed forces), the national police and civil society to respect the government’s decision. “A state of emergency of any kind is no longer relevant especially in the context of a society which has been through the experience of [the tsunami] disaster and prolonged conflict”, said Rafendi Djamin from AWG in a press statement in Jakarta on Tuesday May 17.

The state of martial law and civil emergency in Aceh has clearly had an adverse impact particularly in terms of the restrictions on political space for the social movements and even on the movement of domestic and foreign humanitarian aid has been restricted.

Another AWG activist, Khoirul Anam, said however that with the end to the civil emergency there are a number of important points which must be given attention because it is obvious that there has been no significant change in the social, political and security situation in Aceh.

Anam gave as an example the continued dominance of the military’s role in Aceh, where the reduction of a state of emergency to one of civilian authority has not been followed by a reduction in troops but instead troop numbers have been increased by as many as 900 personnel from the East Java 512 Malang Battalion. “It should be that if it has already become a civil authority only organic troops should remain in Aceh and non-organic troops be withdrawn”, he said.

In addition to this, the government’s decision – which was supported by the People’s Representative Assembly – give no reasons for changing the province’s status to one of a civil authority and the government has also failed to take responsibility for the consequence of bringing a state of civil emergency into force in Aceh. “The government has not taken responsibility for the use of funds for the integrated operation1, especially in relation to the military operation there”, said Anam.

As a follow-up to the decision to repeal the civil emergency, AWG is asking to government to give consideration to a number of issues that will guarantee the smooth running of a civil authority. These include that it does not conflict with Presidential Decree Number 30/2005 and Government Regulation Number 2/2005 which assumes the principles of transparency and accountability, [public] participation and gives precedence to the public’s interests. “The government must also be able to restore the civil rights of the Acehnese people and guarantee there will be no restrictions of [their] rights on any grounds whatsoever”, he said.


1. Integrated operation – the operation to restore government administration, the humanitarian operation, the law enforcement operation, economic recovery and the operation to restore security.

[Translated by James Balowski.]