Illegal organisations in Aceh must be disbanded

Aceh Kita – June 21, 2006
Major General Bambang Darmono (Liputan 6)
Major General Bambang Darmono (Liputan 6)

Adi W, Banda Aceh – Indonesia’s senior representative on the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM), Major General Bambang Darmono, has confirmed that there are no longer any illegal groups in Aceh. If there still are, then these groups must be disbanded immediately.

“Meaning, every organisation must have a permit that is in accordance with the law”, Darmono told journalists at the offices of the Acehnese governor on Wednesday June 21.

The disbanding of such groups is in line with Ministry of Political, Legal and Security Affairs Decree Number R-13 dated March 18, 2006, which provides a guarantee that there are no longer any illegal organisations in Aceh.

Darmono, the former TNI (Indonesian military) operational commander for Lhokseumawe, said that based on the decree that came into force on June 15 this year, it is not just illegal organisations in Aceh that will be disbanded, but throughout Indonesia, because many social organisations are still illegal in nature.

Darmono explained that the decree represents a verification and affirmation to address the doubts of those who say there are still many illegal groups post the conflict in Aceh. Moreover, the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in Helsinki on August 15 last year requires that the Indonesian government disband all illegal organisations that exist in Aceh.

The illegal organisations meant by this said Darmono, are those that do not have a proper permit. He gave as an example the Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA). “As far as I know at the moment, SIRA does not exist any more, it stopped [functioning] after it was reprimanded by the AMM”, he said.

SIRA spokesperson Dawam Gayo has refuted Darmono’s statement. According to Gayo, SIRA is not an illegal organisation as claimed by the Indonesian government, because it was established legally at the Serantau Aceh Student and Youth Congress.

“Moreover, the congress was opened by Aceh governor Syamsuddin Mahmud and the deputy speaker of the Aceh DPRD [Regional House of Representatives] from the ABRI [armed forces] Fraction, Colonel Yasril Hedradjat. Since its formation, SIRA has also been active in struggling for the creation of peace in Aceh, because SIRA does not wish violence against Aceh”, said Gayo in a press release sent to Aceh Kita. “With regard to the name SIRA, there is also no need for concern although it contains the word referendum”, he said.

It is not just SIRA that is being called on to disband, but all fronts formed to quash the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Darmono said meanwhile, that the Defenders of the Fatherland (Peta) is not an organisation but only a group formed to counter those who carried out resistance during the period of conflict.

Peta is an organisation that was created post the conflict and is an umbrella organisation for various resistance fronts against GAM. A number of fronts were formed during the period that the Indonesian government declared a state of martial law and civilian emergency (May 19, 2003-April 2005) in Aceh. These include the Front for the Struggle Against GAM (FPSG), People’s Fortress Against GAM Separatists (Berantas), Red White United People’s Resistance (PPRMP) and a number of other groups.

There is no definitive data however on the number of illegal organisations in Aceh. Darmono noted that illegal organisations that are still active would be sanctioned. “If [they are] still operating, then there will be legal sanctions. And that is a matter for security forces”, he said.

Darmono also explained that the disbanding of these illegal organisations has no relationship with the dispute within the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA). GAM recently resigned from the BRA because there were members of Peta in the organisation led by the rector of the Ar-Raniry State Institute of Islamic Studies, Professor Yusni Sabi. In addition to GAM, non-government organisations have also withdrawn three of their personnel from the BRA. [dzie]

[Translated by James Balowski.]