Aceh rapes: Komnas HAM to investigate, TNI disagrees

Kompas – September 2, 2003
Komnas HAM chairperson Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara (Tempo)
Komnas HAM chairperson Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara (Tempo)

Lhokseumawe –- The chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, has said that that the Komnas HAM Ad Hoc Team for Aceh will investigate [a recent] report about 100 Acehnese women who have been raped, [saying that] if this has actually occurred, then gross human rights violations have occurred.

“It not just 100, a number of cases have already provided a picture of [the kind of] crimes [that have been occurring] in that region”, said Abdul Hakim in response to a report by seven non-government organisations (NGOs) from the Friends of Aceh (Sahabat Aceh) on the rapes in Aceh.

In Lhokseumawe meanwhile, the TNI’s [armed forces] operational command refuted the Friends of Aceh report which stated that five TNI members raped a woman on August 17. According do the operational command, this accusation is extremely damaging because the perpetrators of the rape were not members of the military.

As reported [by Kompas on August 29], seven NGOs from the Friends of Aceh issued a report evaluating 100 days of the military emergency in Aceh [which was declared by the government on May 19]. In the report it said that during the military emergency a number of acts of sexual harassment had occurred, including rapes, which [in one case] were perpetrated by five TNI members. [In this particular case] after being raped, the victim and their family were threatened by [members of] Koramil [District Military Command] [and warned] not to report the case.

On Saturday August 30, [North Aceh] military operational commander Major General Bambang Darmono said that the accusations by the seven NGOs were false. “This report incorrect, this is just a cheap shot. I do not like it when they just set an issue loose based on data from an NGO which was sent [to them] by a [particular] group of people”, he said.

According to the military operational command, the incident which befell a girl named M (16) on the night of the [national independence day] celebrations on August 17 was committed by five people, all of whom were civilians.

The incident was reported to Koramil 22/BDS where a member of Koramil proposed to the victim [that they seek] a peaceful resolution [to the issue]. The victim was then struck by a member of Koramil, Sargent Bakhtiar, who was annoyed because the victim declared that one of the junior Koramil members had joined in the rape. The case is now being processed by North Aceh district police.

According to the military operational command, the report by the seven NGOs which includes the Indonesian Legal Aid Association, Solidarity Without Boarders, the Kotaraja Forum, Daughters of Aceh for Justice, the Purple Institute, National Solidarity for Papua and the National Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence tends to [try to] damage the image of the military emergency. “In the end they called for the [presidential decree declaring Aceh to be under a] military emergency to be revoked, said Bambang who disagreed with the seven NGOs coming to Lhokseumawe to prove their case.

Meanwhile, according to Abdul Hakim, aside from who the perpetrators are, this issue must be given serious attention. In an armed conflict, women often become the victims of violence. “The Ad Hoc Team will conduct a verification and check what actually happened”, he said.

The head of the Aceh Ad Hoc Team, M.M. Billah stated that they are not just going to conduct a verification, but will carry out and investigation, that is to seek information from people or witnesses who can provide clarification on the crime. (ful/DOT)

[Translated by James Balowski.]