Komnas HAM asks government to end military emergency

Kompas – October 11, 2003
Aceh Ad Hoc Team member MM Billah (Sindo News)
Aceh Ad Hoc Team member MM Billah (Sindo News)

Jakarta – The Aceh Ad Hoc Team from the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has asked the government to immediately reduce the security status in Aceh from a military emergency to one of civil order. If the military emergency continues the political aspirations of the Acehnese people will be able to be expressed during the 2004 general elections.

This call was one of the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Team after concluding its fifth visit to Aceh between September 29 and October 4. The head of the team, MM Billah, said that it was important to end the military emergency because the elections must be held in a peaceful and conducive atmosphere. Furthermore, requests or calls to end the military emergency have come from the hearts and true feelings of the Acehnese people.

“If the military emergency is extended, there will be no election in Aceh. This means it will undermine the position of the government itself, which is flagrantly ignoring the civilian and political rights of its citizens”, said Billah who was accompanied by team members Bhatara Ibnu Reza and Suratman in Jakarta on Friday October 10.

The team is still finding indications of human rights violation and violations of humanitarian law such as murder, torture, the disappearance of people and rapes which are being perpetrated by both warring sides [the Indonesian military and the Free Aceh Movement].

“Presidential Decree Number 28/2003 which is the legal basis for the military emergency and for the prosecution of the military operation is the starting point of the spread and expansion of the war in Aceh. All of this has obviously brought with it the consequence of people being killed, wounded and forcibly disappeared, either from the two warring sides as well as civilians”, said Billah.’

Billah revealed that over the five months of the military emergency his team had received 105 complaints though the Komnas HAM representative offices in Banda Aceh and their posts in Lhokseumawe and Bireun. Meanwhile, based on the results of the investigation and compilation of information from witnesses, the team not only found indications of human rights violation and violation of humanitarian law but also violations of the criminal code.

“Information which we obtained in Takengon indicated that illegal logging is being carried out by the military which is resulting in destruction of the environment. The timber which they gather is entrusted with timber businesses so that if a raid occurs, the ones who are arrested are the owners of the timer companies”, revealed Billah. (LAM)

[Translated by James Balowski.]