M. Rizal Maslan, Jakarta – Activists from the People’s Solidarity Movement for Aceh (Gerakan Rakyat Untuk Aceh, SEGERA) held a demonstrated at the offices of the ministry of political, legal and security affairs on Wednesday November 24. They were protesting the extension of the state of civil emergency in Aceh and calling on the government to review the decision.
The demonstrators arrived at the ministry on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat in Central Jakarta at around 12noon carrying posters and banners condemning the extension. “Civil emergency = a violation of human rights”, “SBY-Kalla and Widodo, murderers of the Acehnese people”1, “Peace yes, civil emergency No” and “Civil emergency source of corruption in Aceh” read the posters.
SEGARA spokesperson, Lukman Hakim, said that the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) had betrayed the trust given to him by the Acehnese people by extending the civil emergency. This is because in his campaign for the second-round of the presidential elections SBY said he would resolve the Aceh conflict peacefully. “The extension of the civil emergency indicates that the SBY administration is the same as the previous administration of [President] Megawati [Sukarnoputri]”, said Lukman.
By extending the civil emergency there is concern that there will be an escalation in violence and the level of casualties will remain high. The government should not have extended the civil emergency but rather focused on the operation to improve people’s welfare in Aceh. This is bearing in mind that the level of poverty in Aceh has increased to 48.2 per cent out of a total population of 4.1 million people.
In fact during to the state of martial law2 the level of poverty had increased from 46.7 per cent, up from 42.23 per cent. The high levels of poverty are a consequence of the failure of the government’s planned military operation. (iy)
1. SBY – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Kalla – Vice President Yusuf Kalla. Widodo – Minister for political, legal and security affairs.
2. Aceh was placed under martial law on May 19, 2003 which reduced to a state civil emergency on November 19 and has been in place since then.
[Translated by James Balowski.]