Subject: Aceh's Former Rebels Demand Justice

The Courier Mail (Australia)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Aceh's former rebels demand justice

Marianne Kearney in Jakarta

FORMER Acehnese rebels are calling for rights abusers from the province's civil war to be put on trial.

They argue that the thousands of people who were tortured during the 29-year conflict are a ticking time bomb that could disrupt the peace deal signed a year ago.

The retired guerillas point out that the peace deal promised to bring perpetrators of the abuses to court.

They say Jakarta's refusal to establish such a tribunal is a violation of the agreement.

''There should be some kind of justice for the perpetrators -- it should apply to both sides because the peace accord promised peace for all with dignity,'' said Bakhtiar Abdullah, spokesman for the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Mr Abdullah says GAM will not take up arms again. But he fears now that Aceh is experiencing peace, thousands of traumatised people no longer intimidated by the military will demand justice.

''Abuses were carried out with impunity, there are around 20,000 to 50,000 people who suffered gross human rights abuses,'' he said.

''We have documents to prove people were raped and abducted.''

This week hundreds of people carrying placards saying ''we have been tortured, we are traumatised and we can't stand any more'' called on the Government to withdraw all soldiers from the province.

Teugku Ahmad Haikal, a rights activist, said frustration with the peace deal, particularly with the establishment of a new military command in Aceh, could become explosive.

Jakarta withdrew over 30,000 troops last year as part of the agreement but several thousand remain in the province.

-------------------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service


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