SAP statement on the arrest of activists in Aceh

SAP – February 26, 2004
Pro-independence activists demonstrate for peace in Aceh (AP)
Pro-independence activists demonstrate for peace in Aceh (AP)

In relation to the release of two Women’s Organisation for Aceh Democracy (Organisasi Perempuan Demokratik Aceh, Orpad) members by the Banda Aceh Mobile Brigade (Brimob), two other Orpad members, Harlina and Iwan Irama Putra, who is also a member of the Linge University and High-school Students Association (Ikatan Mahasiswa dan Pelajar Linge, IMPEL) and Student Solidarity for the People (Solidaritas Mahasiswa Untuk Rakyat, SMUR) are still being detained. The whereabouts of Iwan since his arrest and disappearance on February 22 are still unknown as security forces have not admitted to abducting him, this is also true in the case of Harlina who was taken from her boarding house on the morning of February 23. Security forces have still not admitted that they arrested her.

However with the release of two Orpad members, Rahayu and Nursida Martulesi, their whereabouts are now known, as they were seen by the two witnesses at the Brimob headquarters in Banda Aceh in an extremely poor state of health as both had been tortured by being beaten by lengths of wood.

These arrests add to the catalogue of violence in Aceh since the declaration of marshal law and over the last few weeks, the number of arrests of pro-democracy activists has increased. This is directly related to holding the general elections in Aceh on April 5, where the emergency military command (PDMD) want’s the elections to go ahead under a state of marshal law and is seeking to strike at activists who are critical of the elections being held under undemocratic conditions.

These arrests are further evidence that the statements by the PDMD that the military emergency has reduced the strength of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) forces is obviously a lie. Instead, pro-democracy activists have become the target, precisely as was stated by the PDMD on the second day of after the declaration of marshal law when they declared that as well as GAM, other civilian organisation would also be targets of the operation, including SMUR, the Acehnese People’s Democratic Resistance Front (Front Perlawanan Demokratik Rakyat Aceh, FPDRA), the Aceh Referendum Information Centre (SIRA) and Orpad. This statement was then followed by the arrest of activists from SMUR, Orpad and IMPEL (Linge University and High-school Students Association, Ikatan Mahasiswa dan Pelajar Linge) shortly after marshal law was declared.

This situation makes us even more convinced that a resolution to the Aceh problem though military methods will not be able to resolve the conflict in Aceh, instead it will result in extensive human rights violations. A democratic resolution though dialogue which involves all elements of society is therefore, the only correct solution.

Aceh Papua Solidarity (SAP) therefore states the following:

1. We urge the security forces to release the Orpad and IMPLEL activist who are still being held by Brimob.
2. We urge the coordinating minister for politics and security take responsibility for the torture of Orpad and IMPEL activists by Brimob officers.
3. We urge the PDMD to immediately free all civilian prisoners who have been labeled as being members of GAM.
4. We urge the National Human Rights Commission to send a team to investigate the arbitrary arrest and torture of Orpad and IMPEL activists by Brimob officers.
5. We urge President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Vice-president Hamzah Haz to immediately end the state of marshal law in Aceh.
6. We urge the National Election Committee not to go ahead with elections in Aceh under a state of marshal law.
7. We urge the international community to pressure the two sides (GAM and the government) to return to the negotiating table and involve all elements of society in such negotiations.

End marshal law in Aceh
Free all civilian prisoners in Aceh
Reject the elections in Aceh

Aceh Papua Solidarity
Ari Arianto, coordinator

[Translated by James Balowski.]