Subject: Acehnese rebels demand int'l war crimes trials for Indonesian troops

Also: Aceh peace talks run into 'disastrous' hurdle: rebels

Acehnese rebels demand international war crimes trials for Indonesian troops

July 15, 2005 4:19am Associated Press WorldStream

HELSINKI, Finland_Aceh separatists on Friday called for the establishment of an international tribunal to try Indonesian troops accused of committing war crimes in the province.

Bakhtiar Abdullah, spokesman for the Free Aceh Movement, said government forces had committed numerous war crimes but that very few of these had been prosecuted.

"What (the Free Aceh Movement) seeks is for Indonesia to subscribe to the international convention of holding to account the officers and politicians who have ordered these crimes," Abdullah said.

The appeal, which came during the fifth round of peace talks in Helsinki, is potentially troubling for Jakarta which is already being pressed by the United Nations to bring to justice members of the security forces responsible for the devastation of East Timor in 1999.

Last month, a U.N. panel recommended to the U.N. Security Council that a tribunal akin to those for Rwanda and ex-Yugoslavia be formed within six months to try Indonesian commanders accused of violence in East Timor and attacks on the world body's mission there.

"The time for denying war crimes and not holding to account those who order them must end," Abdullah said.

He also demanded that the authorities capture Lt. Col. Sudjono, who is accused of leading a company of troops that executed 56 boys and their teacher at a religious school in central Aceh in 2000. Although 24 soldiers were found guilty at a subsequent trial, Sudjono _ who like many Indonesians uses only one name _ mysteriously disappeared from a military jail.

Human rights groups say Sudjono _ who is reportedly living openly in a town in Central Java _ is the link to the army generals who ordered the massacre.

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AFP, July 15, 2005

Aceh peace talks run into 'disastrous' hurdle: rebels

Peace talks between Indonesian officials and Aceh separatists have run into a "disastrous" hurdle in discussions of political participation, the rebels said, claiming Jakarta had "sabotaged" the process.

"It's going diasastrously," Free Aceh Movement (GAM) political advisor Damien Kingsbury told AFP before a fourth day of talks got under way.

His comments come less than a day after the separatists optimistically announced that the Indonesian government appeared to be willing to concede to their demands for the right to create local political parties that are not controlled by Jakarta.

GAM said late Thursday that it had received a written proposal from Jakarta suggesting how to resolve the issue, and said it acknowledged that Indonesia now "endorses the basic democratic principles of freedom of association regardless of place or number of members".

But later, Kingsbury said Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin made public statements that revealed confidential details of the proposal.

He allegedly emphasized an offer from the government to appoint GAM members to political positions instead of going through an electoral process, something the separatists have flatly rejected.

"Such a sweetheart deal for GAM (is) ridiculous and wouldn't allow the inclusion of other parties in Aceh ... It's not democratic," Kingsbury said.

"They've basically sabotaged the process," he said, adding that he now did not think the parties would be able to reach an agreement on the issue by the time the ongoing round of talks, which have been described as decisive, are scheduled to wrap up on Sunday.

"We thought we were getting towards an agreement (but) now I don't think there's any way of finalizing this time ... Awaluddin's comments were not very helpful," he said.

Indonesian Communications Minister and delegate at the talks Sofyan Djalil meanwhile remained upbeat on the prospects of resolving the issue.

"We'll find a very good solution for this," he told AFP.

Nearly 15,000 people have been killed since GAM launched its campaign for independence for the western Indonesian province of Aceh in 1976.

While four previous rounds of talks held in the Finnish capital since January have led to few concrete advances towards ending the conflict, hopes have been high that the current fifth round would lead to a genuine settlement and that a peace treaty could be signed next month.


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