INDONESIA/ACEH: Stop military repression; Provide full access to humanitarian and human rights agencies

The ongoing military operation by the Indonesian government against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) raises great concern. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received increasing number of reliable reports that about 200 persons have been killed and almost 40,000 civilians been displaced since military operations which began on 19 May 2003 intended to wipe out GAM. Recent events show that both parties, the Indonesian Government and GAM, are unable to come to a settlement and therefore, the situation in Aceh demands immediate intervention of the international community. 

In particular, the AHRC notes with great concern that the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has been threatened by the military for their recent monitoring of human rights violations in Aceh. The mob attack against the Commission for Victims of Violence and Missing Persons (KONTRAS) and the Indonesia Legal Aid and Human Rights Institute (PBHI) offices show the military’s attempts at limiting the activities of human rights defenders in the name of national interest. As human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in the protection of people’s rights, their activities should be unobstructed and guaranteed by all parties. The human rights monitors should have the freedom and access to investigate without interference and be free to report their findings to the relevant authorities, the general public, and the international community. Recently, it is alleged that the Indonesian military has threatened the human rights monitors like the Komnas HAM from publishing their findings. The human rights monitors, who in fact function as human rights defenders and recognized as a special category by the UN, should have the right to security, especially to be safe from being attacked. 

The present reality in Aceh has become extremely miserable. Allegations of inhumane treatment and reports of serious human rights violations have been reaching the international community since the latest military offensive in May 2003. A Komnas HAM investigator said that a mass grave had been found in Aceh province, and tens of thousands of people have fled their homes to temporary tented places to comply with the evacuation policy by the military. Lawlessness and barbarism dominate Aceh under the military administration based on martial law. It is evident that safety, and human rights of the Achenese people are now severely threatened. 

It is reported, and in fact confirmed by the UNICEF that over 500 school buildings have been set on fire in ten districts in Banda Aceh, since the latest offensive resulting in 70,000 students with no schools to attend and nowhere to study. This we consider to be a grave crime. The AHRC calls upon all parties in Aceh to strictly comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to protect children’s right to education even in periods of conflict. AHRC would like to remind the Indonesian government that it is the responsibility of the government to protect the schools even in the times of conflict. 

Sadly, these recent events expose that mere international outcry is by no means enough. The international community should intervene to mediate in the current situation so that it will not deteriorate and degenerate further. The AHRC also urges the international community to place an immediate embargo on arms trade against the Indonesian government. 

The AHRC urges the international humanitarian organizations to provide assistance to the Acehnese people on an urgent basis and that Indonesian government provides immediate and unconditional access to such humanitarian organizations. The AHRC also urges the Indonesian government to provide complete security to the Achenese people, and direct the Indonesian military to respect the rights of the people, particularly of the civilians. 

Finally, the AHRC requests that the Indonesian government set up a competent and independent tribunal in accordance with established international norms and standards and all persons, especially Indonesian military personnel responsible for the numerous crimes including crimes against humanity committed in Aceh be brought before it. It is only through these actions that all people’s dignity and rights can be protected.
Asian Human Rights Commission ?AHRC, Hong Kong
Asian Human Rights Commission ?AHRC
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Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-21-2003
Countries : Indonesia,