Fact-Finding Delegation to Aceh Urges Indonesia to Guarantee Safety
of Humanitarian and Rights
Workers East Timor Action Network and Indonesia Human Rights Network Call
for an End to Abuses by Armed Forces and Police
For Immediate Release
October 1, 2000
Contact: Michael Beer, Nonviolence
Lynn Fredriksson, Indonesia Human Rights Network, 202-546-0044
An international human rights delegation, recently returned from
Indonesia's troubled province Aceh, found an atmosphere of fear and
continued conflict despite a cease fire between the pro-independence
guerrillas and the government.
"We found shocking and systemic abuses by the Indonesian police
and military, as well as some by the guerrillas. All sides must respect
human rights and demonstrate a genuine commitment to a peaceful resolution
of the Aceh conflict," said Michael Beer, Director of the Washington,
DC-based Nonviolence International and delegation member.
The delegation found that the situation has become so polarized that
those working to promote human rights and peaceful conflict resolution and
help refugees face enormous pressure. The recent killings of noted
Acehnese such as human rights lawyer Jafar Siddiq and Professor Safwan
Idris, Rector of the Ar-raniry State Islamic Institute (IAIN) in Banda
Aceh, have intimidated and frightened others working for peace.
"Human rights abuses by the guerrillas, including execution of
civilians, do not warrant a declaration of state of emergency now being
sought by the Indonesian military. A military solution will only further
the destruction of civil society and further polarize the conflict,"
While supporting the recently-extended "Humanitarian Pause"
between the Indonesian government and the pro-independence guerrillas and
first begun June 2, the delegation observed that the cease fire had failed
to improve the safety of human right and humanitarian workers. Oxfam and
Medecins Sans Frontieres recently suspended their work in Aceh citing
concerns for the safety of their staff'. Thousands of internally displaced
persons are now receiving no international assistance.
Beer urged the Indonesian government to provide the needed security so
that international assistance can go to those displaced by the conflict.
"Jakarta and the international community should expand not reduce
assistance to the Acehnese people at this critical time," said Beer.
"For example, UNDP has received no additional funding for programs in
Aceh since the signing of the Humanitarian Pause."
"The delegation's findings serve to reinforce the need for the
U.S. to continue its suspension of military ties with Indonesia. In Aceh,
as in West Timor, Papua and elsewhere in Indonesia, the police and
military show no respect for human rights or those who defend them,"
said Lynn Fredriksson, Interim Coordinator of the recently formed
Indonesia Human Rights Network and Washington Representative for the East
Timor Action Network/U.S.
While in Aceh, the delegation gave their condolences to the family of
murdered human rights lawyer Jafar Siddiq Hamzah.
Hamzah's mutilated body was found with four others outside Medan on
September 5. A resident of Queens, New York, Hamzah founded and chaired
the International Forum on Aceh (IFA), a non-governmental organization
campaigning for peace and human rights in Aceh. The delegation, citing
fears that the current police investigation is likely to become a
cover-up, urged a thorough and transparent investigation of these
"We remain particularly aggrieved by the brutal murder of our
friend, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, and disturbed by the woefully inadequate
police investigation into his case," said Fredriksson.
More than 5000 people have been killed in eleven years of fighting and
repression in Aceh. Hundreds have been killed or disappeared since the
Humanitarian Pause was instituted.
The U.S. recently reaffirmed its suspension of military ties to
Indonesia. That ban was first instituted in September 1999 when the
Indonesian military and its militias were destroying East Timor in
response to the August 30 independence vote.
On Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed legislation
that would put the renewed ban into law, citing the murder of Hamzah and
the recent killing of three UN humanitarian workers, including a U.S.
citizen, in West Timor.
In the U.S., the international delegation was organized by the recently
formed Indonesia Human Rights Network and supported by the East Timor
The delegation visited Aceh from September 19 through September 26,
2000. It included Dr. Karim Crow, Director of the Islamic Peace Forum
(Malaysia); Michael Beer, Director Nonviolence International (USA); Alex
Flor, Watch Indonesia (Germany); and A.H. Semendawai, S.H., Coordinator
Legal Service Department, Institute for Policy, Research and Advocacy (ELSAM)
Michael Beer and other delegation are available for interviews.
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