‘There are no more GAM members in jail’: Minister

Aceh Kita – November 26, 2005
Minister of Justice and Human Rights Hamid Awaluddin (Alchetron)
Minister of Justice and Human Rights Hamid Awaluddin (Alchetron)

Radzie, Banda Aceh – The Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Hamid Awaluddin, says that the government has already released all members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) who were jailed in various correctional institutions in Java and Sumatra.

“I need to say to you, that those directly involved with GAM have all been released”, Awaluddin told journalists after presiding over the construction of 31 houses for state civil servants near the Aceh regional office of the department of justice and human rights on Saturday November 26.

According to the head of the government team at the Helsinki negotiations with GAM, it may be that what GAM is questioning are the Acehnese people detained for committing criminal acts. “What has been [included in] the count may be Acehnese people who were jailed for criminal activities”, he said.

Awaluddin added that in addition to the release of the GAM prisoners after they were granted amnesty on August 31, the government also freed a number of GAM members through remissions awarded on Indonesia’s Independence Day celebrations last August 17. “That was before being granted amnesty”, he said.

Despite this, Awaluddin has left open the possibility of rechecking whether there are any GAM members still in jail. “It may be that there are one or two people. Later we will cross check it again”, said the minister from Makassar.

The former General Election Commission member added that the implementation of the peace agreement between the Indonesian government and GAM has been running well at each process and stage. “GAM is surrendering weapons, and we are withdrawing troops”, he said.

Meanwhile, the senior GAM representative to the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM), Irwandi Yusuf, also said there are still GAM members incarcerated in jail. Generally, they were arrested before the state of martial law came into force on May 19, 2003.

Yusuf was referring to are those who were detained for criminal acts. This is because the law on subversion was only applied after the state of emergency came into force in Aceh. “Many GAM [members] are still in correctional institutions. They were arrested before martial law, such as activists and GAM personnel, who are considered to be criminals. In reality they are also GAM [members]”, he told journalists.

Yusuf hopes that the government will give consideration to the issue as part of its commitment to the peace agreement that was signed on August 15. “We are continuing to ask for them to be released”, he said.

As reported by Aceh Kita on October 12, GAM claims that there are still 116 of its members detained in a number of correctional institutions and jails in Java and Sumatra. They are being held in Cipinang prison, Salemba prison, Karawang prison, Sukamiskin prison, Tangerang prison and Nusakambangan prison. There are also GAM prisoners in the Tanjung Gusta Medan prison, Rantau Prapat prison, Binjai prison and Sibolga prison.

According to Yusuf — GAM’s special envoy to AMM — the correctional institution that accommodates most GAM convicts is the Tanjung Gusta prison. “Most are in Tanjung Gusta, Medan”, said Yusuf at his office in Banda Aceh on October 10 as he held up the list of names.

At that time, the issue of the 116 GAM members still being detained was already being handled by the AMM. “The report by the working group handling the cases of the 116 missing people or those still being detained has been done”, wrote the AMM in a press release received by Aceh Kita’s web site at the end of October.

In order to resolve these cases, Indonesia or GAM will exchange information with each other. “One name was taken out of the list because a double count occurred”, said the AMM. [dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]