Militia in Aceh has potential to create new violence

Source – October 26, 2005
Indonesian Human Rights Watch executive secretary Poengky Indarti (Teropong Senayan)
Indonesian Human Rights Watch executive secretary Poengky Indarti (Teropong Senayan)

Fitraya Ramadhanny, Jakarta – The presence of militia in Aceh post the peace negotiations in Helsinki still lays the grounds for the potential eruption of new forms of violence. It is because of this that the government is being urged to disband the militia, which still exist.

This was revealed by the executive secretary of Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) Poengky Indarti at a press conference at the Imparsial offices on Jalan Diponegoro No. 9 in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Wednesday October 26.

According to Indarti, post the Helsinki peace process over the period between August 15 to October 15, Imparsial found that there are sill a number of problems which could support and be taken advantage of by interest groups in obstructing the peace process in Aceh, particularly with regard to the question of the militia.

The question of the militia in Aceh is not contained in the memorandum of understanding (MoU). Imparsial has recorded that there are 11 militia groups throughout Aceh and their presence could very possibly create new social problems.

“There presence could very possibly create new conflicts in society as a consequence of feelings of revenge which not cured during the period of martial law and civil emergency between militia members and ex-GAM [Free Aceh Movement] members and civil society”, he said.

Although militia activity post the MoU has declined, in structural terms the militia still exist. Indarti is concerned that militia’s skills will be taken advantage of by parties that do not wish for peace in Aceh. “We want the government to acknowledge whether the militia still exist. And the government disband the militia simultaneously and completely”, he asserted.

In their monitoring, Imparsial found criminal acts being committed by rogue TNI (Indonesian military) officers, police or even people who claim to be members of GAM. Imparsial plans to hand of their findings to the government, the House of Representatives and the Aceh Monitoring Mission.

[Translated by James Balowski.]