Friday, January 07, 2005

Crisis in Aceh: January 6 Report from SEGERA Volunteers


Issued by SEGERA: Solidarity with the Acehnese People Movement (SEGERA)
January 6, 2005 in Indonesia.

1. About taxing of assistance or humanitarian workers.

This information we received from one of our volunteers on 29th December, who is currently travelling from Tapak Tuan to Banda Aceh (it is best that their name is not disclosed). They witnessed that not only volunteers, but also the people that are attempting to enter Meulaboh, are being forced to pay a fee that is as high as we mentioned previously. This could be the work of rogue elements of the TNI, however what is certain is that they are not being coordinated or that the local military command is deliberately doing nothing to stop them. The people are aware of this problem, but are too afraid to complain as they need to be able to get into Meulaboh in order to search for their family.

Regarding the illegal taxes on trucks carrying relief supplies, this is indeed not a new problem. We know for certain that since the introduction of the military emergency every vehicle that passes by a TNI post is stopped and forced to pay an indeterminate amount. Instances of relief supplies being blocked, which the military claims has been conducted by GAM, cannot yet be verified, mainly due to the fact that the military itself has done similar things since the beginning its operations in Aceh.

2. About TNI sale of assistance at Banda Aceh, Bireun and Meulaboh

Yes. Many of our volunteers have seen this in the field, at Bandara Polonia and Blang Bintang Malikussaleh. This could also be the work of rogue elements of the TNI, however once again this cannot yet be investigated directly.

3. TNI theft of aid from Banda Aceh airport

We are not yet prepared to verify this information, as it has been conveyed by word of mouth from volunteers who claim to have witnessed it first hand. These practices have not yet been investigated. Indeed, even journalists have so far only covered relief efforts and human tragedy stories, and have failed to do any investigative reporting.

4. To this 12th day, there are still several islands that have not yet received any help. One of these is Simeuleu Island where 24.000 people are facing starvation.

5. There was an arrest of a person by the TNI who was suspected of being a native CIA operative, who has since been returned to their community in the area of Montasik, Banda Aceh, on 2 January. There are reports that the village head in this area was also detained (their name is difficult to obtain), and news of this has upset refugees. These arrests are suspected as being due to the belief that the CIA has infiltrated into local neighbourhoods.

6. The ongoing uncertainty resulting from the disorderly nature of the government's field coordination is presenting great difficulties for volunteers.

7. The frustration of the inhabitants of Banda Aceh regarding the slow and erratic handling of the post-earthquake situation is implicit in the scuffles and tensions breaking out in refugee camps. This is primarily in relation to the uneven and slow assistance in the removal of corpses and provision of aid. However they are not brave enough to openly express their frustrations due to presence of large numbers of military, paramilitary police and intelligence operatives in the refugee camps. Even though it was the military that initially should have quickly coordinated relief efforts, locals witnessed that they were not coordinated at all and did not mobilise sufficiently.

8. From various reports in the national media, the government (the Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare, Alwi Sihab) has consistently denied that there have been any delays, and that every area has received equal distribution of aid. However, from the testimonies of people in a number of villages who have been interviewed by the media, the actual situation is the opposite. There are many villages far from Banda Aceh that are still littered with corpses and have yet to receive assistance with coordinating refugees or relief (including the Simeuleu Island).

Immediate use of the fund would be to send volunteers to areas of disaster in Aceh, to help aceh-based volunteers and to evacuate victims. Volunteers are urgently needed to do relief work, to evacuate victims, to restore healthy environment so that the spread of disease can be stopped as much as possible, as well as to monitor the distribution of aid to ensure that the victims would receive it.

A new bank account, allowing for more rapid transfer and access by SEGERA, has been opened in Jakarta. It is recommended that all donations be transferred into this account. Pooling of donations from among friends will save the expensive transfer costs.

Account name: Yulia Evina Bhara
Account number: 10005966325
Commonwealth Bank Jakarta - 12920 - Indonesia
Branch: Jl. Jenderal Sudirman, Jakarta

IMPORTANT: When transfering money please make sure that the Clearing Code/SWIFT: 9500307 is written onto the transfer form.
Clearing Code/SWIFT: 9500307

SEGERA contact details:

SEGERA (Solidaritas Gerakan Rakyat untuk Aceh)
Jl Tebet Barat Dalam VIII L no 2
Jakarta Selatan - Indonesia
Phone : 62-21-8309061

liaison in Australia:
Max Lane

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