SMUR statement on the arrest Orpad and IMPEL activists in Aceh

SMUR – February 26, 2004
Protesters shout anti-military slogans during rally against military operations in Aceh (Dadang Tri)
Protesters shout anti-military slogans during rally against military operations in Aceh (Dadang Tri)

On February 22, Iwan Irama Putra, a member of Student Solidarity for the People (Solidaritas Mahasiswa Untuk Rakyat, SMUR) and the Linge University and High-school Students Association (Ikatan Mahasiswa dan Pelajar Linge, IMPEL) was arrested. The background to this arrest was Iwan’s activities in SMUR and IMPEL in dealing with issues of refugees in Central Aceh in 2001. These refugees were accused by the emergency military command (PDMD) as being members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) which then lead to the arrest of one of the refugees.

This arrest then lead to security forces directing their attention to IMPEL members who were dealing with the refugees at that time. Officer from the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) then arrested Iwan who was accused of being a member of GAM. In this matter we wish to explicitly state that Iwan is a member of SMUR, not a member of GAM,  as he has been accused of being by the security forces. The accusations against Iwan that he is a member of GAM are in fact just machinations to legitimise carrying out an arrest without following the correct legal procedures and to justify the use of torture.

According to two members of the Women’s Organisation for Aceh Democracy (Organisasi Perempuan Demokratik Aceh, Orpad) who were recently released by Brimob, they saw Iwan at the Lingke Brimob headquarters being tortured and in an extremely poor state of health. The reality is that labeling civilians who have been arrested in Aceh as being members of GAM has been commonplace since marshal law was brought into force by the militaristic regime of President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Vice-president Hamzah Haz. These arrests add to the long catalogue of arbitrary abductions and arrests of pro-democracy activists and adds to the catalogue of human rights violations which have occurred in Aceh.

In the context of the April 5 general elections, the number of abductions of student activists has continued to increase and this can be seen from what occurred last week, after activists from SMUR, Orpad and IMPEL were arrested followed by the arrests of six students from the State Institute of Islamic Studies by police on the night of February 24. These arrests are further evidence that the elections in Aceh have no democratic basis which could ensure the quality of the elections and provide a guarantee to the people to express themselves freely, without being coerced in any shape or form.

The central leadership committee of SMUR therefore states the following.

1. That Iwan is not a member of GAM as he has been accused of being by the Aceh police, but is a member of SMUR and the organisation Solidarity Volunteers for Central Aceh (SUAT).
2. We urge the coordinating minister of politics and security, as the office which is overseeing emergency military command in Aceh (PDMD) to expedite the release Iwan and Harlina who are still being held by Brimob Aceh.
3. We accuse the PDMD of being responsible for the torture of Iwan and Herlina by Brimob officers.
4. We urge the National Human Rights commission to investigate all cases of human rights violation in Aceh, in particular the arbitrary torture and arrest of Iwan and Harlina by Brimob officers.
5. We demand that marshal law be ended in Aceh
6. We reject holding the elections in Aceh while it is under the authority of the military.

Jakarta, February 28, 2004

SMUR Central Leadership Committee
Rahmat, secretary general

[Translated by James Balowski.]