INDONESIA: No Peace: Martial Law in ACEH

Dear Friends

The Indonesian government has used the ‘peace talks’ in Japan as an excuse to start an all-out war in Aceh. Below is a press statement issued through SUARAM on the current situation in Indonesia.


Urgent Appeals Desk

Asian Human Rights Commission


INDONESIA: No Peace: Martial Law in ACEH

SUARAM Press Statement: 19 May 2003

Megawati must go back to the negotiation table

The presidential decree signed by President Megawati Sukarnoputeri, instituting Martial Law in the province of Aceh yesterday, signals the end of hope for peace and respite for the people of Aceh.

Evidently, the so-called ‘last-minute talks?held in Japan over the weekend were only a charade on part of the Indonesian government, masking its gross inadequacy and its lack of political will in seeking a peaceful solution in Aceh.

This is compounded by certain facts that question the sincerity of the Indonesian government:-

(1) It has now been reported that the Indonesian military had made a decision to conduct a military assault prior to the Japan talks;

(2) The Indonesian government had sought to arrest, intimidate and brutalise a number of the GAM negotiators due in Japan; and

(3) There has been massing of Indonesian troops in Aceh in the past week, suggesting that the military was poised to wage an all-out war as soon as the negotiations breakdown in Japan. Indeed, mere hours after the presidential decree was signed, fighter jets had begun firing rockets in Aceh while troops parachuted in and 15 warships moved closer to Lhokseumawe. This is reminiscent of the 1975 invasion of East Timor.

These are not ‘confidence-building?measures on part of the Indonesian government. Lest we forget ?one of the key points of the peace agreement signed in Geneva between the two parties is an immediate end to hostilities.

The continued presence of some 30,000 Indonesian troops in Aceh and war-mongering gestures by the Indonesian generals belie the very essence of the peace agreement.

The latest reaction of the Indonesian government to terrorise the Acehnese into submission, moves the Megawati government a notch closer back to the dark days of Suharto’s New Order regime. It does nothing to enhance the democratic gains made since 1998.

War is never the answer to a political stalemate. President Megawati knows this all too well, considering she had eloquently condemned the recent war in Iraq. Eloquence aside, common sense and civility must also prevail in the case of Aceh.

We have witnessed close to three decades of war in Aceh and the deaths oftens of thousands of its civilians. Indonesia must return to the negotiation table, unless its true intention is to rule over the graveyards of Aceh.

released by,

Elizabeth Wong (016-2579750)

on behalf of SUARAM Secretariat

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)

383 (1st Floor), Jalan 5/59,

Petaling Garden, 46000

Petaling Jaya, Selangor,


Tel: 603-77843525, 77820357

Fax: 603-77843526


Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-11-2003
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Military, State of emergency & martial law,