Monday, January 10, 2005

Crisis in Aceh ~ NGOs' Concerted Efforts

Following are appeal, open letter, press release, joint statement from various organizations with concerns about current conditions in Aceh. I also include AWG (Aceh Working Group) position paper prepared last November 2004 on how to establish a sustainable peace in Aceh. I put it in chronological order.


Source: AWG (Aceh Working Group)
Date: 30 Nov. 2004

Executive Summary

“Stimulating Preconditions for Sustainable Peace in Aceh”

While Australia may see Indonesia as a land of terror recent developments there provide great opportunity. The ongoing transition to democracy embodied in the most recent elections and the rise to prominence of SBY, provide great opportunities for Indonesia and for the troubled people of Aceh. Why is this an opportunity? Clear promises from SBY of an end to the conflict in Aceh, with calls for renewed dialogue and an aim for peace have raised great hopes. Immediate action needs to be taken by the incoming president if the conflict is too decided peacefully.

Another important opportunity that must be grasped to ensure an end to the decade’s long conflict is to build perspective to reduce the civil-military relationship in Indonesia by placing the military under civil political authority. This is vital as numerous peace efforts have failed largely because of the military’s influence over political authority. The reform of this military–political relationship remains uncertain. Nevertheless, the new Indonesian Minister of Defense Mr. Juwono Soedarsono has stated his plan tp prioritas this issue in his first 100 days program. This statement was echoed by current Chief of Armed Forces General Endriartono Soetarto.

A peaceful end is urgent. The loads of various social, economical and local political issues in Aceh are demanding it. The battle hardened militia and devastating social segregation as a direct result of military activity are ticking like a time bomb. In addition, there will be potential horizontal conflict as the economically disabled busineeses continue to withdraw their investment in Aceh. This is already creating drastic unemployment and is set to initiate a social economical domino effect. Also more Internally Displaced Persons and refugees pose significant obstacles to peace. Corruption too is widespread, particularly in the regional and local government, which further deteriorates the lives of all in Aceh. The lack of efficiently functioning courts has further fueled the notion that violent rebellion is the only way.

The reaching of peace in Aceh is not a neither easy nor short term proposition. It is a process which will take many years and be an enormous task for a struggling centrally led Government. Peace efforts have long struggled in Aceh; the Humanitarian Pause, and dialog process under an agreement known as COHA, are just two which have fallen by the wayside..

The failure was ensured by the heavy hand of violence utilised by the Indonesian military and also by the resistance movement, commonly known as GAM. Almost all of the agreement items put forward illustrated a direct effort by both TNI & GAM to ‘win’ the battle. Very few concerns were given to the social, economic and political needs of Acehnese people, even though they are the real victims of the prolonged conflict.

These lessons clearly show a new approach must be adopted to ensure the conclusion of the conflict in Aceh. A succesful model needs to incorporate civil society involvement as the foundation stone. This is vital for Aceh’s sustainable peace. Therefore, when government needs dialog and negotiation, the person in the street must be the central member to be involved in the dialog. This will ensure a re-building of trust in the dialogue. Such a model confronts a primary problem of political authority and power in central government perpetuated by the precious dialogue attempts. This approach also based on solving how to rebuild social and economic power for the people of Aceh. Resolving the problems of social and economic injustice remains the key in opening the door to a peaceful new era.

This approach is possible to begin right now. A violent approach is not relevant anymore. The reasons are: GAM’s military forces are relatively smaller than before, many of the commanders having died in combat. Also the result of Presidential election indicates there was substantial support from Aceh. This result gives political responsibility to SBY to finish the Aceh conflict as soon as possible in peace and to restore the situation to a better and prosperous future.

However, this approach requires certain pre-condition, which will allow the initiation of a dialog process with civil community. Several pre-conditions have to be undertaken immediately:

First, The government should revoke the Civil Emergency status in Aceh. This can happen as important token by Central Government of a commitment toward peace process and a sign to the people of Aceh that they can live normally without being under the shade of conflict conditions. There must be clear assurance that there will not be any violence from TNI, militia and GAM.

Second, The Central Government must realize that the problems in Aceh are political and not just a security issue. The core process of ending conflict will be performed through utilizing political mechanisms which put forward a process that is communicative. This is an important start to build the peaceful process again.

Third, The Amendment of Special Autonomy Law. Special Autonomy Law for Aceh is very important in ending conflict; unfortunately, the content still does not touch the real problems and needs several amendments. Firstly, inserting Human Rights issues and Justice into the Law just as the Special Autonomy Law for Papua has done. Also inserting historical acknowledgement of local democracy, which can be illustrated through legislating for local parties accommodation, rule of management and involving Acehnese people directly outside governmental structure.

Fourth, Reopen Aceh to public, especially national or international media and development organisations. The importance of this access is transparency of the peace process and monitoring the process toward a success. Furthermore, this re-opening has been recommended by the result of CGI (Consultative Groups of Governments for Indonesia) meeting in 2003 and reccomended by UN Children Committee in january 2004 in their “Concluding Observation.”

Fifth, Guarantee people to be free from fear. It is a major condition and the government must perform it immediately, because people of Aceh without freedom from fear against TNI or GAM, will be impossible to involve them in the dialog process.

Sixth, Re-organize social and economic conditions. The re-organizing must become the primary priority program in closing the Aceh conflict. With this re-organizing as a priority, so it can be a trust building platforms which will support the peaceful process.

Seventh, Functioning law and justice both fairly and effectively. A functioning law and justice system will heal Aceh’s wound generally and victims’ particularly. Without it, revenge and violence will make peace impossible. Therefore, the pre-conditions required are total investigation and fair and independent trials of all Human Rights violations and their perpetrators.

Eighth, Natural resource management. Unequal share of Natural resource revenue between Aceh and Central Government is one of the triggers of the Aceh conflict. Acehnese people, Especially those outside the government structure, must be involved in the decision making process on the management of natural resources.

Ninth, Regulating TNI and POLRI in political, business and security management performance. The peace process has continually struggled due to military intervention in political, business and bias in authoritative division or command lines in performing defense and peaceful area duties. This regulating is important so in the future there will no form of intervention which can damage the peace process. The Military must obey Civil Political Authority. Also important is to start to build management security that reflects how authority deployment coercive tools must obey the civil authority through a long and strict process.

Tenth, review all judicial process against member of GAM or those who were convicted as GAM sympathisers under an unfair trial.


Central Government Jakarta’s role

  • As soon as possible eradicate civil emergency and announce result and process to public.
  • Perform amendment to Special Autonomy Law, to give local people to be involved in political process and human resource management, as well as crime punishment.
  • Build teamwork to prepare peace process with political approach.
  • Investigating all case and perform fair trial against perpetrators and corruptor in Aceh.
  • Open access for community to involved directly or indirect for the peace process.
  • Open movement space for civilian and guarantee them to be free from fear.
  • Stop all kind of violence and terror war that still running until now.
  • Start transparency in managing resource and fund.
  • To take legal action to release and rehabilitate Civilian who have undergone an unfair trial.

GAM’s role
  • Stop all kind of violence and terror that still running until now.
  • GAM is expected to support peace process with starting to use political channel existed to fight for their struggle.

Civilian’s role

  • Support and use peace process as main instrument for peace and take a pro-active role in the whole process.
  • Start to consolidate and strengthen civilian to support role in peace process.
  • Start to involve actively in Aceh development process especially in monitoring the use of natural resources and local government budget.

Role of International community
  • Give a political and financial support to the peace process.
  • Give special attention in monitoring the peace process.
  • Give support to strengthen civilian through many fortifying program.
  • Give support to social economical infrastructure development in Aceh.
  • Support government transparencies in Aceh especially in managing local government budget.

November 30, 2004

HRWG - (Human Rights Working Group Indonesia)
On behalf of Aceh Working Group Jakarta
(Imparsial, Kontras, YLBHI, PBHI, ELSAM, Kalyanamitra, LBH-APIK, HRWG, VHR, LSSP, AJI)


Date: 30 Dec. 2004

Tapol, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign
Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh
111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8771 2904 Fax: +44 (0)20 8653 0322.
e-mail: - website:

Aceh Emergency - Urgent Appeal

The people of Aceh are suffering the gravest catastrophe in their history in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, which struck on 26 December 2004.

The devastation and humanitarian crisis are unprecedented. The official death toll is currently 52,000. The final figure could be as high as 100,000. Tens of thousands are homeless and facing the prospect of killer diseases.

The disaster has been compounded by chaotic mismanagement by the Indonesian authorities and the legacy of decades of violent conflict. A war has been raging in the territory since the 1970s between the Indonesian military and the separatist Free Aceh Movement, GAM.

The Indonesian government's response to the crisis has been slow, lacked coherence and demonstrated a reluctance, for political reasons associated with the conflict, to involve the international community. Currently just two helicopters have been deployed to assist with the immense relief and rehabilitation operation.

The government has severely restricted access to Aceh by international humanitarian organisations since the imposition of martial law in May 2003. Even now it is sending out mixed messages about the lifting of restrictions. Desperately-needed aid is being held up in Medan, North Sumatra.

Intimidation and violence against local NGOs by the security forces have incapacitated civil society and severely curtailed their ability to respond to the crisis.

It is essential that local and foreign organisations are allowed to operate freely in Aceh for an unlimited length of time. The role of the military must be restricted to humanitarian and reconstruction tasks. There must be no return to the oppressive military conditions which have caused so much suffering to the Acehnese and exacerbated the current crisis.

Rigorous steps must also be taken to ensure that corruption, which is an acknowledged problem in Aceh, is not allowed to dissipate the aid effort.

The needs of the Acehnese are now acute. Please do all you can to help them cope with this terrible tragedy.

TAPOL works with a number of grassroots humanitarian and human rights organisations in Aceh and is launching this appeal so that funds can be used by them to optimum effect where it is most needed by local people.

Suggested Action
Make a donation, however small, by one of the methods below:

Ask your government, through your member of parliament (preferably by phone with a follow-up letter or email), to press the Indonesian government:
  • To lift all restrictions on access to Aceh by international humanitarian organisations, aid workers and journalists;

  • To seek as much assistance as is necessary from the international community and allow aid to be delivered directly by international organisations;

  • To limit the military's role to humanitarian and reconstruction tasks and permanently halt all other military activities in the province.

Details of UK MPs can be found at or by telephoning the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000.

Payment Methods
  • Send a cheque payable to "TAPOL - Aceh Appeal" to TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK.

  • Make a deposit in the following bank account: "Tapol - Aceh Appeal"; Account no. 65157529; The Co-operative Bank; sort code 08-92-99.

  • Make an online donation.

For more information, email or phone 020 8771 2904 or 0794 756 7449.

Thank you.


Date: 4 Jan 2005

Joint Statement
The Government’s Slowness in Responding to the Humanitarian Emergency of the victims of Earthquake and Tsunami in Aceh and North Sumatra

The disaster that happened in Aceh and North Sumatra and in other countries has inflicted a deep wound. The earthquake and Tsunami in Aceh, estimated to cause an enormous loss of lives, had killed more than 90,000 people. The death toll is expected to increase, considering the many victims that have not yet been evacuated, particularly from the western coast of Aceh (Meulaboh and the area).

Compared with the other countries that suffered the disaster at almost the same time, our government is far slower in handling the disaster. Neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand have finished evacuating the victims. At the moment, they are dealing with post-disaster excesses, which can cause more victims without immediate and efficient treatment. We have not even mention about the attempt to rebuild the ruined infrastructures, to rehabilitate and to heal the trauma of the Aceh people: the government has not shown any systematic and applicable plan.

Supposedly, the most able element to deal with the disaster is the government, considering the facilities that it has, especially the TNI and the Police (POLRI) force. It is very paradoxical when we compare the mobilization of TNI’s troops to Aceh during the disaster with the TNI troops mobilization in conducting the war in Aceh. The deployment of TNI troops to Aceh along with their full combat armament in reality is useless under the existing condition; it will instead create a new terror for the Aceh people.

Under the existing condition, the government (TNI/POLRI) and GAM supposedly stop fighting and focus altogether on helping the victims in Aceh based on humanitarian purpose. This momentum can also be used to engage on cease-fire and to help the Aceh people solve their tremendous problem. The evidences in the field show the opposite, especially in such areas that are widely inaccessible to mass media as Meulaboh, Nagan Raya, Pidie Aceh Timur, etc. The TNI still uses repressive measures like screening (sweeping) the volunteers who try to enter isolated areas like Meulaboh, Nagan Raya, etc. Besides screening volunteers, the TNI also demands that logistics brought by volunteers be centralized at TNI’s posts for them to distribute it to the people.

Insufficient volunteer mobilization, especially among the TNI/POLRI, in responding to the disaster sparked the initiative of various organizations to send volunteers to help the Aceh people. It can even be said that the entire national human-potential is hand-in-hand expressing its humanitarian solidarity. However, this initiative faced many obstacles as mentioned above. There are even some provocations saying that any logistic aid distributed by volunteers, instead of by the TNI/POLRI, will be susceptible of ending on GAM’s hands. This information is not yet valid, because after a team of volunteers made some investigation they found that it was nothing but provocation meant to monopolize the distribution of logistic aid through TNI/POLRI. Until the time of the writing, we have not yet known what is TNI’s motivation in monopolizing the distribution of logistic aid to the victim of the disaster.

Until now, refugees camps are spread over several points (Banda Aceh in Ulee Kareng, three areas; Blang Bintang and the most in Mata Ie); in Pidie, the refugees are settling along the road from Banda Aceh to Medan; in Lhokseumawe the refugees are concentrated in 7 points such as Hirak field, Senudon, etc; in Aceh Jeumpa, refugees are spread in 14 points such as N Kando Tambo elementary school. Meanwhile in Meulaboh, there is no exact information of refugee areas because SEGERA volunteer lost contact due to the un-repaired communication network. The refugee condition is very sad. On January 1st some refugee camps ran out of logistics. In several areas that lack media coverage such as in Samalanga and in Pidie, there are still a lot of unburied bodies due to the lack of volunteers. Currently, media coverage mostly focuses on two issues: the volunteers concentrated in Banda Aceh and the attempt to open access to Meulaboh.

Piling up logistic aid and slow and inefficient distribution in Polonia (airport of Medan) and Blangbintang (Air Force base in Aceh) caused the loss of some logistic aid. The distribution of logistics that has not been managed well is starting to create hunger threat, especially in Meulaboh and the area, and Pidie and the area. Ironically, in Banda Aceh some people had died on the refugee camp of Mata le, Banda Aceh.

Therefore the Solidarity of People Movement for Aceh (SEGERA) and Aceh People Bond (IKARA) made the following statement and question to the government:
  1. Humanitarian aid, evacuation attempt and volunteer mobilization to the crisis areas are still denied access. There is no clear social and administration status on whether the Civil Emergency status is revoked or kept. This is very connected with the response and the need of the widest access for humanitarian aids from various elements.
  2. To demand government’s commitment in the attempt to respond to the emergency; in terms of how far it will mobilize volunteers (TNI/POLRI troops – non war purpose), the use of important facilities which has become urgent, and the distribution of volunteers to areas of priority.
  3. To report to the government and to demand responsibility on such incidents in the field as illegal taxing to some volunteers (from Rp. 40,000 to Rp. 50,000) in Meulaboh, the selling of humanitarian aid by the TNI to the victims (happened in Banda Aceh, Bireun, Meulaboh – based on reports on December 30th), the loss of some logistic aid in Blang Bintang Air Force base – later it was found out that the TNI stole the aid for the provision of their troops (recorded on January 3rd)
  4. To push the TNI and GAM to engage in cease-fire and to focus on concrete attempts to respond to the humanitarian emergency
  5. To make a proposal that the government demand the Multi National Corporation (MNC) in Aceh such as PT. Exxon Mobil, PT. Arun, PT. Asean, etc to donate fund for initial recovery in Aceh with the minimum amount of Rp. 5 Trillion per-MNC (considering the huge exploitation they have done in Aceh)
  6. To demand anyone not to adopt children of victims, considering that evacuation and victim-registering process have not yet finished, and to push the government to take firm measure towards the practice of selling children of victims in Aceh. IKARA and SEGERA will report these incidents by requesting an audience with the Coordinator Minister of Welfare (Menkokesra) on January 5th 2005.

Thus we made the joint statement with one purpose: to forge the widest humanitarian solidarity.

Jakarta, 4 Januari 2005
Solidaritas Gerakan Rakyat untuk Aceh (SEGERA)
Jln. Tebet Barat Dalam VII L No 2
Jakarta Selatan
Telp/Fax: 021-8309061/08158153172
Chair: Arie Ariyanto (08156867741)

Ikatan Rakyat Aceh (IKARA)
Jln. Metro Duta Raya Plaza 1 Blok UA 20-21
Pondok Indah, Jakarta-Selatan
Telp/Fax: 021-7501969
Chair: Faisal Saifuddin (0811907736)


Source: ILRF (International Labour Rights Fund)
Date: 4 Jan 2005

Text of Letter to Secretary of State Powell on Aceh Crisis

4 January 2005

Secretary Colin Powell
U.S. Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Powell:

We, the undersigned NGOs, are writing to bring to your urgent attention special concerns about the humanitarian response to the extraordinary suffering and damage caused by the December 26 earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia and other Indian Ocean littoral nations.

The particularly severe damage in Aceh, where more than two-thirds of the casualties have been reported, requires specific international focus. It is crucial that the international humanitarian response to Aceh take into account the historical context of the region, as that will heavily influence the effectiveness of relief efforts. As you are aware, for nearly three decades, the people of Aceh have suffered the consequences of Indonesian military operations in which the principal victims have been civilians, as described in multiple State Department human rights reports. More than 2000 people have been killed since the May 2003 imposition of martial law in Aceh. During a previous period of martial law, from 1989 to 1998, some 10,000 perished. Human rights violations, predominantly committed by the military, have been rampant.

To ensure maximum impact and timeliness of humanitarian assistance in Aceh, we believe it is essential that the United States and the international community urge the Indonesian government to immediately take the following steps:

  • Remove all restrictions impeding access to Aceh by domestic and international agencies and organizations, media, and individual government assistance programs. Burdensome visa requirements and other bureaucratic red tape must be eliminated.

  • Formally lift the "civil emergency" status still in force in Aceh. President Yudhoyono should do this directly and in no uncertain terms.

  • End all offensive military operations in Aceh by the Indonesian armed forces (TNI). According to TNI spokespersons and media reports, offensive actions by the TNI against insurgents are still underway, while the insurgents have declared a ceasefire.

  • Direct the TNI to focus exclusively on provision of essential logistics to facilitate humanitarian relief. TNI officers should not be directly involved in aid distribution - so as to circumvent military abuse of humanitarian assistance and to avoid escalation of legitimate fear felt by many Acehnese toward the military and certain elements of the police (e.g. BRIMOB).

Acehnese civil society and local administrative infrastructure have been devastated. United States and other international assistance, to the extent possible, should give priority to rebuilding Acehnese civilian capacity to address both immediate needs and long-term reconstruction.

As you travel to the tsunami-stricken countries, we thank you for your serious consideration of these concerns in such trying times.

Bama Athreya
Deputy Director
International Labor Rights Fund

Munawar Zainal
Secretary General
Acheh Center, USA

Miriam Young
Senior Program Officer
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights

Karen Orenstein (Conctact at: 202-544-6991)
Washington Coordinator
East Timor Action Network

Suraiya IT
International Forum for Aceh


Press Release
Aceh Working Group

Preparation for the Tsunami International Conference on January 6, 2005

It has already been two weeks since the tsunami disaster ravaged Aceh and North Sumatra with more than 90 thousands claimed victims. However, the Government of Indonesia’s incoherent policies in responding to this disaster have caused a lot of problems in the affected areas.

AWG is fully aware of the enormous post-earthquake attention that has been given by international and national bodies.

The following reports have been received from the affected areas:

  • Difficulty in relief distribution of logistics, medical, and volunteers not only happens in Banda Aceh but it is even worse along the western coastal areas of Aceh (south-western Aceh, Aceh Jaya, and Nagan Raya).

  • Lack of heavy equipments to clear the debris caused by the earthquake and for burials of its victims.

  • There are a lot of civilians’ initiatives but they are weak in coordination. In the affected areas it is apparent that a huge number of volunteers have yet a clear execution and plan. On the one hand the phenomenal number of volunteers turned out at the affected areas is good but uncoordinated volunteers can pose as another burden for Aceh. The destruction of all levels of government and military structures has resulted in chaotic and uncoordinated relief efforts.

In the meantime the central government is slow in organizing national disaster relief efforts and drags on formatting political policies on national level. However, the government has issued the following national policies:

  • Instruction of Minister of Internal Affairs about mitigation of natural hazard and to coordinate and manage outside resources for the relief efforts.
  • A cabinet meeting chaired by Vice President Jusuf Kalla has appointed two government bodies in Aceh: Deputy Governor of Aceh who heads a local government body and Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare who is responsible for mitigation of disaster.

AWG believes that all policies should focus on providing immediate relief/assistance to the victims and refugees in the area.

In addition, there ought to be a short-term, medium-term, and long-term policies and plans to restore normality and to rebuild the areas affected by the disaster.

AWG believes that the policies provided by the government have not yet guaranteed principles of transparency and effectiveness. Moreover the policies should not incur new economic burden, including the state’s debt, because the country has already been saddled by a Rp.1000 trillion’s debt prior to tsunami disaster—including the Rp.700 trillion debt used to bail out the country’s banking sector. Future policies should also observe human rights principles, especially the United Nation’s fundamental charters for addressing and handling internally-displaced people that covers refugees, orphaned children due to disaster, property management of the victims, and the protection of the aspiration of the victims.

It is also worth noted that up until now, the government has not lifted the policies that complicates civilians’ lives, for example the state of civil emergency that was issued by Presidential Decree and also all emergency government policies on both local and central levels since 2003.

This situation will potentially cause political and judicial conflicts during the mitigation of disaster in Aceh, including between civilians and government apparatus in the affected areas. On the one hand, the government of SBY (President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) and its cabinet has issued policy that encouraged involvement of national and international bodies to assist in the relief efforts in Aceh, but on the other hand it has not yet lifted that repressive policy. This incoherent policy causes confusion in the affected areas and creates ongoing arms conflicts between GAM and TNI.

AWG calls for the government the following:
  • The government should immediately start to work effectively to address coordination and distribution of relief and volunteers. Thus all relief efforts can reach victims and refugees without delay. The enormous relief efforts need coherent and transparent political and legal policies, including the policy of civil emergency that is still in effect now.

  • AWG requests coherent and transparent program/plan of immediate relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of disaster zones in Aceh and North Sumatera to prevent mismanagement and misappropriation. Thus civilian society can monitor, assist, and rectify its implementation.

  • International Conference on Tsunami will not be used as a forum to gain new foreign debts but as a forum to discuss debt reduction program.

Jakarta, January 5, 2004
Aceh Working Group

For information please contact:
- Henri Simarmata: 081513353779
- Rafendi Jamin: 081311442159

Aceh Working Group (AWG): Imparsial, KontraS, PBHI, Kalyanamitra, HRWG, LBH APIK, Pird-YLBHI, Yappika, LSPP, AJI, Elsam, VHR, SHMI


Please follow this link for detail:

Source: SIRA's Open Letter
Date: 9 Jan 2005

Open Letter
Ref: 03/DP – SIRA/B/I/2005
Subject: Aftermath of Tsunami: The UN should mediate in the conflict between Acheh and Indonesia

The honorable Mr. Kofi Annan,
Secretary General of the United Nations
c/o the Head of the UN Mission in Indonesia

Honorable Secretary General,

You have just attended the summit Conference of the International Emergency held in Jakarta and also visited Acheh where you witnessed the devastation that the whole world agrees as the worst in the memory of mankind. SIRA that has been campaigning for years for the UN to send a human rights Rappoteur to Acheh is naturally very appreciative of the fact that now you yourself has performed this task.

We would like to take this opportunity now when the images of Acheh still fresh in your mind to humbly report the real condition in the field in the aftermath of the earthquake and the Tsunami tidal waves. There is not need to restate the obvious about the massive destruction that Acheh has suffered. The fact is that this disaster has also caused the collapse of the local government, much of the infrastructure has perished together with nearly 100,000 people. There is no economic life to speak about. In all this chaos, it is heartening to see that the world does not stand still. It moves in unison in tremendous sympathy with the victims, not only in Acheh but all the way to Africa where the ripples of the tsunami have reached.

Unfortunately, as is always with humankind, a disaster does not only bring the best but also in the worst in people. The swift and massive generosity of the international community was match by the initial reluctance of the Indonesian authorities to open Acheh that they have isolated totally from the world's view for more than two years. Today's reality of dozens of nations congregating in little Banda Acheh to help, with cargo planes every hour in the airport that used to handle one service a day, is sharply contrasted with the fact that very little aid has reached those who most need it, the people outside the capital city of Banda Acheh. Only supplies brought in by helicopters have reached the people directly. Those brought in by trucks from Medan can be seen on sale openly near military posts. Outside the port of Krueng Geukueh in North Acheh, canned food stuffs and old cloths unloaded from the Malaysian Navy ship can be seen on sale in the streets outside the harbour.

This heinous reality is a direct result of the inablity of the government of Indonesia to discipline its military. The long delay in issuing permission for foreign aid to come in has caused corpses to rot and to contaminate rivers and underground water supply. Epidemic contagious diseases are imminent. In refugee camps, the most common diseases are stomachache, vomiting, headache and skin irritation. We fear that very soon these still manageable diseases, if not treated, would turn nasty and become dysentry, malaria, tuberculoses and typhoid. Hungry animals, surviving pets and wildlife alike, including cats and rats have started to eat corpses. People outside of Banda Acheh are still starving despite the massive food supplies arriving at Indonesian ports and airports in Java, North Sumatra and Banda Acheh itself. This is not the failure of the international community. At best this is the result of the outrageous negligence of the Indonesian authorities and at worst a blatant inhuman act of sabotage.

Another major problem is lawlessness that the Indonesian military and police not only have failed to handle properly but on many occasions are the sources of this problem. The military and the police paramilitary force (BRIMOB) have been involved in many bad fights all over Indonesia over lucrative illegal activities such as the drugs trade. Today stories of damaged banks and Chinese jewelry shops being cleaned up by these elements are abound. Now there are rampant stealing of aid supplies that instead of being investigated properly are simply blamed on the Free Acheh Movement fighters (GAM). Even when such a heavily guarded Police Chief's house was shot at, the military automatically said the attack was by GAM gunmen. In the evening the police annouced that the shooter is in fact a single policeman who have serious grivances. Such accusations are intended to legitimize the Indonesian military's decision to continue with their attacks against GAM's position despite the declaration of unilateral ceasefire by GAM.

If all these are not enough to foul up the good work of the world community, the Indonesian propaganda machine is busily spreading news that Achehnese were attacking Christians and Chinese, that they are against the presence of non-Muslim Westerners in Acheh. At the same time of presenting Achehnese as xenophobics, Jakarta sent to Acheh the Islamist extreemists volunters from Java to Acheh.

It is very strange for us Achehnese why the international community, especially the UN are so willing to accept such ridiculous allegations against Achehnese without even trying to find the truth?

We in SIRA are very hopeful that after seeing Acheh personally the Secretary General would instruct the UN sincerely take into account the real interest and aspiration of the Achehnese people and not simply accept what Jakarta is telling the world about Achehnese. Indonesians do not know Achehnese, if they did, there won't be no such intractable conflict in Acheh.

We would like thus to seize this occasion to put forward what are indeed the hope and aspirantions of the Achehnese people.
  1. While we are profoundly grateful to the international community for the quick and massive aid given to the victims, involving the Indonesian military in the distribution of the aid adds to the trauma that the people already have. The Achehnese people are very afraid of the military and this fear has been proven again when many have been beaten up at quee lines for not being able to fulfill such riduculous demands as identity cards. We call on the UN to let the Achehnese themselves do the work, with the military or police just doing the guard duty, supervised by foreigners. There are thousands of young, able and very willing Achehnese to volunteer to do the work. They need to do this to maintain some degree of self-respect which is very important for Achehnese. Please do not reduce them to beggars.
  2. The UN, countries and NGOs that are providing aid to Acheh now should not leave immediately after the initial relief work is over. They should continue to remain in Acheh to supervise the reconstruction of the country. Achehnese themselves should be entrusted to do this. If the task is entrusted to Indonesia then Acheh would once again be milked dry. Workers would be imported from other provinces, especially Java, who would never leave once they settle in Acheh. Achehnese would eventually become a minority in their own coutry, like what was intended with the infamous Transmigration Programme, supported heavily by the World Bank that has belatedly recognized it as a mistake.
  3. Not only rebuilding, even providing relief to victims in Acheh cannot be done when there is a war still going on. The international community must seize this calamity to achieve something positive for the people of Acheh. Stop the combatants from both sides from preventing them returning to a degree of normalcy in their lives. This conflict is too complex to be solved immediately. No formula, no roadmap could be found that is acceptable immediately to both parties. They need to negotiate it calmly for as long as it takes. But meanwhile they have to stop the fight. The Achehnese people have suffered enough. Let them live peacefully, let their children go to school, let women walk around without fear of being raped or even killed. The warring parties can continue their fight across the negotiation table, even if it should take them years.

Banda Aceh, January 8th, 2005
Acheh Referendum Information Center
Members of the Presidium Council

Nasrudin Abubakar
Faisal Ridha
Muhammad Saleh

  1. The President of The Republic of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta
  2. The Prime Minister of the State of Acheh Malik Mahmud in Sweden
  3. Mass medias

Note: SIRA (Sentral Informasi Referendum Acheh or Acheh Referendum Information Centre) is an organization of the struggle of Achehnese people, established by 104 organisations on February 4th, 1999, at the Kongres Mahasiswa dan Pemuda Acheh Serantau (the congress of the Students and Youth). The 104 organizations contain of the student councils, the youth councils, the religious schools students. On November 8th, 1999 SIRA succeeded to gather two million people in front of the Grand Mosque Banda Acheh. The aim of this is to struggle the self-determination right, democratically, and peacefully.

Address: Jln. T. Panglima Polem No. 13 A
Komplek Bp 4 Lama Kp. Laksana, Banda Acheh
Telp/Fax: +62-651-24043
Hp. 0816343793/08158760497
Contact persons (mobile phones): 08158760497, 081514229593, 0816343793


Source: GAM's Press Release
Date: 9 Jan 2005

Ministry of Information
TEL : +46 8 531 83833 FAX: +46 8 531 91275


Regarding the Islamic Defenders Front and the Indonesia Mujahidin Council in Acheh

The government of Acheh in exile, the PNA/ASNLF, deplores the arrival in Acheh of members of the thuggish so-called Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the terroristic Indonesia Mujahidin Council (MMI). The introduction of these organizations into Acheh at this most critical time squanders scarce resources by the Indonesian government which is better allocated to the victims of the recent tsunami.

The FPI and MMI are not welcome in Acheh and have never been supported by the Achehnese people, nor has their presence been requested. The FPI has been involved in sectarian killings in Maluku and Central Sulawesi and illegal attacks against non-Muslims and others in Java and elsewhere.

The FPI, which is made up of street thugs and minor criminals, was established as a militia by TNI generals on 17 August 1998 to act as a vanguard against Indonesia's pro-democracy activists. It has since become infamous for attacking nightclubs and other places it claims contradict the teachings of Islam.

However, as is well known, the FPI has used these attacks to extort 'protection' money from bar owners. The FPI continues to act with the support of, and on behalf of, TNI generals, and is clearly in Acheh on their behalf.

The MMI, which is the umbrella organization for groups such as Laskar Jihad, Laskar Jundullah and the FPI, was established in 1999 and headed by the leader of the terrorist organization Jema'ah Islamiyah, Abu Bakar Ba'asyir. It has the explicit aim of turning Indonesia into a non-democratic fundamentalist Islamist state. MMI's military wing, Laskar Mujahidin, used TNI sourced weapons in sectarian operations in Maluku and Central Sulawesi in 2000 and 2001.

The actions and words of both the FPI and MMI are against the teachings of the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith and contradict the tolerance and faith of Achenese Muslims. Neither the FPI nor the MMI has any credentials or skills in disaster relief, and their presence is clearly intended as a provocation to the people of Acheh. Their intervention in Acheh is therefore counter-productive and is not wanted.

At a time when the international community is so generously assisting the people of Acheh, the Indonesian government is wasting valuable funds by assisting these criminal organizations to travel to and stay in Acheh. It is thus showing that it is not concerned for the welfare of the Achehnese people, but is cynically intent on causing more chaos for the suffering people of Acheh.

The PNA/ASNLF also deplores the continuing military operations against its forces in Acheh, who have declared a unilateral ceasefire in order to facilitate the relief effort. Again, this diversion of scarce resources at such a desperate time shows the Jakarta government is not concerned with the welfare of the Achehnese people, but only with its colonial military domination of our homeland.

We therefore call on the international community to demand that the FPI and MMI leave Acheh, and that the Indonesian government immediately call a halt to military operations. Like Achehnese forces, it should focus its efforts on helping the Achehnese people in this time of their greatest need, or it should get out.

Stockholm, Sweden, 9 January 2005
Bakhtiar Abdullah, Information Officer


Press Release
No: 02/SP-KontraS/I/2005

Re: Need to be more Concrete, Indonesian President's Offered towards GAM

The Commission for Involuntarity Disappearances and Victim of Violence (KontraS) regrets the exchange of gunfire between the state security apparatus with Free Aceh Movement or GAM. These kind of actions need to ceased, because it could disturb the emergency humanitarian effort in Aceh. It is not just the Aceh rehabilitations and reconstruction process at stake, but the possibility for human sacrifice and other unnecessary impact. With this consideration, political reconciliation in term of cease fire political agreement between The Government of Indonesia and GAM is urgently required.

A few reasons why there's an urgent cease fire action needed: 1) to secure Aceh rehabilitation and reconstruction process; 2) to guarantee security of civilian in the aftermath of natural disaster especially children and women; 3) to guarantee the safety of civilian volunteers well being as well as foreign military, to not become a victim of armed-conflict between military TNI/POLRI - GAM.

Further, KontraS welcome positive statement from our president SBY who offered a peace opportunity for GAM. Along with that statement, KontraS inquire GAM to clearly stated their act upon, towards opportunity to end the armed-conflict. And we appreciate the positive response from GAM.

Therefore, to achieve reconciliation (peace agreement and cease-fire), the Central Government of Indonesia should concretize the offer. There are at least two conditions should be considered by the president. First, to give humanitarian aid access to Free Aceh Movement of GAM. Secondly, to give amnesty and free all GAM negotiators.

The first precondition needed because of earthquake and tsunami impact had sacrifice many Acehnese, without exception including GAM members and their families. Due to the natural disaster situation could endanger the life of GAM community, without humanitarian aid, especially no food security whatsoever.

Because these facts, KontraS summon upon non-discrimination principal and fair humanity toward the distributor of Aceh humanitarian aid. We ask for humanitarian aid to be distributed only for humanitarian effort. Thus, all people affected by disaster including GAM members deserved and have the rights for aid. Humanity should be lied within everything, extending all the country territory, sovereignty, political background, ethnic, religious, gender and other barriers.

Second precondition, there is a need to asses early discussion towards dialog with the GAM negotiators who has been put behind bars (5 negotiators). Without amnesty and releasing of negotiators, SBY offered will be useless.

Looking at the situation, to reach effective peace negotiation effort, KontraS suggest these notes as bellow:

  1. Peace agreement to cease fire should be perform by Central Government with the GAM representative in Aceh, not only GAM representative in Sweden; due to Aceh condition that need to be really address, post-natural disaster.

  2. The negotiation location should be neutral.

  3. It should involve civil society, such as religious leaders, intellectual and NGOs as the third party.

  4. To include the third party outside the conflict as mediator, with integrity and agreed by both conflicted-parties. The third party is important as monitoring of negotiation results. Thus, Government of Indonesia could ask for Japan help to become peace mediator in the negotiation or all the Tokyo group member states, EU, England and USA.

  5. In a long terms objective, GAM have to be given political concession, which could be political rights rehabilitation to put down their weapons and receive special autonomy.

Lastly, based on several experiences before, KontraS remind that the opportunity to create such peace agreement is very much in how president SBY as the civilian authority could further control its military and also influenced by the international pressure against GAM.

Thank you.

Jakarta, 10th January 2005
Working Comitte

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