On the pros and cons of the IV round of Helsinki talks

Joint Statement – June 7, 2005
Billboard promoting Helsinki peace agreement (CMI)
Billboard promoting Helsinki peace agreement (CMI)

The following is a joint statement by Solidarity of People’s Movement for Aceh (SEGERA) and the Acehnese People’s Democratic Resistance Front (FPDRA).

The fourth round of Helsinki Talk ended last week. The informal talk resulted in several points of agreement between RI and GAM for drafting the formal agreements.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla optimistically commented that the talk has made significant achievements.

Unfortunately, within the country there are more and sharper disputes on the pros and cons of the Helsinki talk.

The parliament initially asserted that Helsinki talk must be stopped because of threatening national integrity. One of their reasons is that the Aceh problem will be internationalized because one of the points of agreement talks about the necessary involvement of foreign monitoring team. The parliament repeatedly remarked that Aceh problem must not repeat the same mistakes in the past such as the loss of East Timor and Sipadan-Ligitan islands. The attitude shown by the parliament poses a threat to the future of peaceful resolution of Aceh conflict.

The peaceful resolution of Aceh conflict can only happen by one way: negotiation.

Parliament’s stance on the issue has created public opinion that the parliament is in disagreement with the government – government is pro-Helsinki talk, while the parliament is anti. However, although the government is actively involved in the talk process, there are still a number of things that must be noted for criticism. This situation represents obstacles to the negotiation process.

The political grouping in the parliament that wants to stop the talk consists of two groups. The first group is the political power that wants military solution for Aceh due to the existence of separatist threat in the province; and that claims that in a sovereign country, the elimination of separatist threats is authorized and lawful. This is certainly an a-historical point of view, considering that more than three decades of military solution in Aceh has not brought any peace but rampant violence and human rights violations.

The second political group comes from the vulgar political oppositions. This group is government’s oppositions. In view of the peace talk, their rejection was based on taking any opposition stance against the government. To them, rejecting the Helsinki talk is an expression of their opposition to any government’s policies; although their criticism is still confined to certain limits. Therefore, this group poses an ambiguous concept: to have the peace talk within the country without involving third party (international) that facilitates and monitor.

Defense Minister, Juwono Sudarsono, recently tried to neutralize the pros and cons by making a strange comment. He asserted that Aceh will not become an international issue, although the government has agreed to involve teams from the region and European Union for monitoring work when the Indonesian Government and Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM) reach an agreement. Juwono also affirmed that the Helsinki talk will not be more than just informal talks. More interestingly, he stated that the talk is just a manifestation of international concern towards Aceh, so that Indonesia must be involved to avoid being marginalized by the international community. His statement implicitly substantiates the concerns of many that Helsinki talk is just a diplomatic manoeuvre to save Indonesia’s image in the eyes of international community; considering that the Tsunami disaster has put Aceh to the centre of world’s attention, and various opinions on the political status of Aceh will reveal Indonesian crimes to the international community.

Looking at this development, SEGERA and FPDRA feel that the peace process carried out by the talk is threatened to fail. If there is no attempt to save the peace talk, both the concept and content of the talk, the situation in Aceh will experience a set back to three decades ago, when violence, human rights violations and militarism were more intense and widespread.

SEGERA and FPDRA are in the opinion that the government is half-hearted in carrying out the negotiation process. This is evident from the recurring armed contact in several areas in Aceh.

Diplomatic rhetoric in Helsinki will not give any promising hope in the field. Armed contacts are increasing in number since the start of Helsinki talk last January; and this fact is firmly admitted by the TNI Chief Commander, General Endriartono Sutarto.

According to him, armed conflict in the field is common as a prelude to the dialogue and to strengthen the bargaining position. TNI is used to taking aggressive move prior to a negotiation, like General Ryamizard Ryacudu’s attempt prior to CoHA talk on March, two years ago. Today, TNI does not respond to GAM’s offer of cease fire, although in the negotiation table Jakarta is offering a permanent end of hostility. This is a very unsettling contradiction.

We are deeply concern of this development and hope that there will be a way out for the peace process in Aceh. For that reason, it is crucial to actively give responses and inputs as well as pressures to the government to seriously carry out the negotiation and to produce formal agreements. It is also important to condemn the parliament and parliament members that keep insisting on the uselessness of the talk.

Therefore, in this joint statement, SEGERA and FPDRA affirm our position:

1. The government must formulate the points of agreement tha resulted from the talk beginning since January for the formal agreements.

2. Immediate cease fire by de-militarization and withdrawal of 39,000 TNI’s non organic troops and by reducing the organic troops according to the province’s need.

3. Disarming GAM’s force by using one of the three options: 1. GAM’s armed force to be recruited into TNI’s local unit, 2. GAM’s armed force to be localized in a particular territory under international supervision, 3. Centralisation and control of arms in certain arm-depot(s) by and under the supervision of civilian authority, in this context, the local parliament. Assessment and authority on the use of weapon belongs to the civilian authority.

4. The agreement and its results still requires third party (international) with the authority to take measures or give sanction against any party violating the agreement.

5. To stop the hunt of the people on the People Search List (DPO), alleged separatists, GAM, and civilian activists.

6. To call on the entire democratic force in Indonesia to build widespread solidarity for Aceh, particularly in connection with the current situation.

Thus, we made our statement with the purpose of democratization, the upholding of human rights, and the liberation of the Acehnese people.

Jakarta, 7 June 2004

Solidarity of People’s Movement for Aceh (SEGERA) and Acehnese People’s Democratic Resistance Front (FPDRA)

Cp. Zely Ariane
SEGERA International Officer

[Translated by James Balowski.]