Subject: Bilateral Pressure Needed On Indonesia Rights Cases: Activists; Aceh Groups Demand Halt To Police’s Military-S tyle Operations [2 reports]

also: JG: Aceh Human Rights Groups Demand Halt To Police's Military-Style Operations

The Jakarta Globe March 4, 2010

Groups Say Bilateral Pressure Needed On Indonesia Over Human Rights Cases

by Markus Junianto Sihaloho

Activists on Wednesday expressed skepticism about the government's stated commitment to settling cases of human rights abuse, saying bilateral pressure was needed to force the government into action.

Djoko Suyanto, coordinating minister of political, legal and security affairs, on Wednesday said the government was open to public input on how cases of human rights abuse should be handled, including the infamous murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

Djoko's statement came just a day after nongovernmental organizations focused on human rights met with the Presidential Advisory Council (Wantimpres).

"For sure, the government will always make room for the settlement of these cases," he said.

Jimly Asshidiqie, a member of Wantimpres, reportedly said during Tuesday's meeting that the government should try harder to resolve the Munir case.

Muchdi Purwoprandjono, a former top intelligence official, was tried but acquitted of charges that he ordered the murder of Munir, who died while on an Amsterdam-bound flight in September 2004 after being poisoned with arsenic.

For cases such as the student abductions in 1997-1998, Jimly said an ad hoc tribunal could be established to address the case.

But Djoko said the government must first evaluate the legal processes the cases have seen so far. He stressed that the government's position that it would not intervene in the legal proceedings surrounding such cases attitude remained unchanged.

Choirul Anam, of the Human Rights Working Group, criticized this statement, saying the government should have the courage to take action. "In the Munir case, the government should order the National Police to re-investigate the case," Anam said.

Usman Hamid, the chairman of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said the government needed to be pressured by the international community.

"I think such pressure, like from US President [Barack] Obama is needed, because we are running out of time waiting for the government's benevolence to settle the cases," he said.

Obama is scheduled to visit Indonesia later month, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly said last Wednesday that while the United States wanted to increase counterterrorism and military cooperation with Indonesia, it had to be sure that the country was committed to ending human rights abuses.


The Jakarta Globe March 4, 2010

Aceh Human Rights Groups Demand Halt To Police's Military-Style Operations

by Nurdin Has

Two prominent rights groups in Aceh on Wednesday called for police to end their military-like operations against an armed group allegedly linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terrorist network.

The Aceh chapter of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Pidie district chapter of the Center for Human Rights Assistance (PB HAM) issued the statement after a civilian was killed during a police operation in Padang Tiji, Pidie, early on Wednesday.

A civilian was also killed on Feb. 23 during a police raid on an alleged combat-training area for an armed group of militants in the Jalin mountains in Aceh Besar district.

"The police shouldn't repeat the militaristic approach. Their operations are now widening and more residents are getting killed," Hendra Fadli, the Aceh Kontras coordinator, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Whatever the security threat, police should continue to abide by the rules and regulations, including one issued by the National Police chief last year regarding the implementation of the principle and standards of human rights and another on the use of force in police actions.

"This will prevent the police operations from leading to human rights violations and from upsetting the Acehnese people," he said.

Heri Saputra, the Pidie PB Ham coordinator, said the police had adopted the same military approaches used during the conflict between government forces and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

The government and the exiled leadership of the GAM ended almost three decades of armed conflict with a peace pact signed in August 2005, which saw the separatists drop their claims for independence in return for broad autonomy.

GAM has since disbanded and its members have been absorbed into Acehnese society.

"Civilian victims and widening sweep operations are clearly similar to the military's approach during the period of conflict," Heri said.

He said the situation would only worsen if the operations are accompanied by the establishment of police paramilitary outposts.

"This approach is certainly inappropriate to pursue just 50 criminals who form a movement that is not massive and does not have the political or ideological support from the majority of Acehnese," he said.

Both rights groups called on the police to minimize their militaristic approach and instead focus on detection and closer cooperation with the public.

Hendra said police have already shown that they were capable of eradicating illegal weapons in the post-peace pact era in Aceh.

The role of the public in helping police efforts could not be underestimated, he added.

"The police should therefore act in a limited and measured way," Hendra said.

He also called on the governor of the province and the provincial legislature to evaluate the police's recent militaristic approach so the peace in Aceh would not be jeopardized.

The two groups said the government and the political authorities in Aceh had so far appeared passive and insensitive to security developments in the province.

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