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PSPD    People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Int. Solidarity
  • 2004.05.19
  • 1877
Statement of Korean Civil Society To Indonesian Government

19 May 2004, First anniversary of Indonesia's crackdown on Aceh

"Immediately stop the military operations and civilian-killings in Aceh province!"

The Korean civil society calls upon to do an objective investigation on human rights violations in Aceh, and to bring a peaceful resolution to the armed conflict in the province.

1. The Indonesian government has recently declared that the martial law imposed on Aceh province is to be replaced by a "civil emergency" status. The declaration is welcome after the year-long tragedy in the province under the Indonesian military to crush the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

2. However, Korean civil society is deeply concerned by the Indonesian government뭩 heavy military presence in the province and its operations against separatists. According to the military뭩 own recent reports, it had killed 1,963 separatists and arrested a further 2,100, while 1,276 separatists have been surrendered. Yet, the government argues that since the military failed to arrest any of the GAM leaders, the military presence is necessary to eliminate the separatists and for security reasons.

3. Aceh province is located at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra with population of more than 4 million. It is well known that the province is abundant in natural resources largely contributing to the national income, which is estimated to reach about 13% of the total government income. However, a major portion of this revenue goes to the central government and is not used for the development of Aceh region. In addition the Aceh municipal officials are corrupt. The civilians suffer from extreme poverty and wrong development priorities which is destroying farmland and exploiting labour.

4. The Indonesian military has launched many military operations to crush the armed GAM which was organized in 1976 succeeding to the existing Aceh independence movement. During 1989 to 1998, the military was responsible for about 10,000 casualties in Aceh. The military campaigns in Aceh province has employed torture, executions, abductions, sexual assaults to abuse ordinary citizens who are not involved in GAM activities and undermined civilian aspirations. The military justifies these grave violations of human rights as directed against only the civilians who support GAM.

5. Just after the resignation of President Suharto, talks were held between the government and GAM to bring about a cease-fire. agreement. It was expected that the talks would put an end to the armed conflicts in Aceh, but the talks were broken off in May 2003. The Indonesian military declared martial law in the province to round up the members of GAM. Under the martial law, the military controlled trade and blocked off all the roads to Aceh. The presence of the military has affected every day life of ordinary people. The military has regarded the livelihood activities out of its commend as supporting the GAM and imposed punishments on the activities. In addition to, the military imposed severe restrictions on the journalists and human rights workers which left the province isolated. However, many of human rights organizations have made efforts to find facts about Aceh situation and boldly reported the number of civilian casualties under the martial law regime to be much more than the official estimate. Most of the casualties are ordinary civilians without any relation with GAM.

6. There are other groups and forums within Aceh civil society that do not subscribe to GAM뭩 strategy of armed struggle to achieve independence for Aceh. They are looking for their independent autonomy to ensure the minimum standard of living as a human being. The people of Aceh should play a leading role in deciding the future of Aceh. Prior to making any political decision, Indonesian government must immediately stop human rights violation and military operations. The government should also start objective investigations into the alleged human rights violations in Aceh. The investigations can be conducted without any foul play if the international human rights organizations and human rights activists are actively involved in conducting the investigations. While the investigations are on, efforts should be made by the Indonesian government for a peaceful resolution of the conflict which should reflect the aspirations of the people of Aceh.

7. Many Korean civil society organizations and individuals are deeply concerned about the military operations against civilians in many parts of the world including Aceh and they call upon today, the first anniversary of Indonesia뭩 military crackdown on Aceh, the Indonesian government to : ▪ immediately stop the military operations and civilian-killings in Aceh; ▪ respect the freedom of the press and human rights organizations; ▪ Reopen talks with GAM for a cease-fire agreement
International Solidarity Committee
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