Jakarta – The categorisation of areas of Aceh into three levels of security is totally counterproductive in terms of the peace negotiations in Helsinki which are being conducted between the government and representatives of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and which will entering their fifth round in July. This classification also contravenes the classification of Aceh as a being under a state of civil authority and indicates that the integrated operation1 has failed.
This was conveyed by Aceh political observer Otto Syamsuddin Ishak when he spoke with Sinar Harapan on Tuesday June 28 in relation to the announcement that 20 per cent of Aceh still under the full control of the TNI (armed forces) and categorised as “black zones” [zones still controlled by GAM]. “This is counterproductive in [the context of post tsunami] rehabilitation and reconstruction which is currently being carried out there”, he said.
In addition to this, Ishak also explained that the status of TNI troops which are deployed in Aceh is still without a clear legal umbrella now that the state of civil emergency has been reduced to one of civil authority.
Because of this therefore, in accord with the change in Aceh’s status, he is asking that troops levels in Aceh be reduced immediately and that the territorial system there be strengthened.
Separately meanwhile, the Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, AS Widodo, said that the troop numbers in Aceh will not be reduced in accordance with last week’s agreement reached at a consultation meeting between the government and the People’s Representative Assembly.
This was insisted upon by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who said that the TNI’s presence in Aceh is to maintain security in the context of the integrated operation. The president mentioned five operations, which will continue to be carried even though Aceh is no longer under a state of civil emergency. (ino/ega)
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.]