Subject: AFP: Remove soldiers guilty of abuses from Aceh, says rights group

Wednesday October 15, 03:33 PM

Remove soldiers guilty of abuses from Aceh, says rights group

JAKARTA, (AFP) - An international rights group called for Indonesia to ban officers accused of past abuses from involvement with the war against separatist rebels in Aceh province.

The deployment of "known human rights violators" in Aceh shows the government is not serious in claims it is cleaning up its armed forces, said Saman Zia-Zarifi, deputy director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch.

The New York-based group, in a briefing paper, named four current and two former officers whom it said committed serious rights violations in Indonesia or during East Timor's bloody breakaway from Jakarta in 1999.

-- Major General Adam Damiri, operational assistant to the armed forces chief of staff, was ordered jailed for three years after being convicted by an Indonesian rights court of crimes against humanity in East Timor.

He is free pending an appeal.

United Nations-funded prosecutors in East Timor have also indicted Damiri along with several other senior officers. Jakarta refuses to hand anyone over for trial.

-- Brigadier General Suhartono Suratman, now deputy armed forces spokesman, has been indicted in East Timor but was cleared by the Jakarta rights court.

-- Major General Sjafrie Syamsuddin, armed forces spokesman. Human Rights Watch said he was "implicated in the crackdown against the May 1998 demonstrations in Jakarta (and) closely linked to gross human rights violations in East Timor in 1999."

-- Colonel Gerhan Lentara. Human Rights Watch says he is a currently a local commander in Aceh. It says he was a martial law commander in Dili when 250,000 East Timorese were forcibly expelled to Indonesia in September 1999.

-- Major General Kiki Syahnakri. Human Rights Watch says he is officially retired but advising on the Aceh martial law administration. He has been indicted in East Timor.

-- Lieutenant Colonel Sujono. Human Rights Watch says his current position and whereabouts are unknown but he has been sighted in Aceh.

Sujono was charged with taking part in the massacre of a religious teacher and 53 students in West Aceh in July 1999. He disappeared from custody before his trial.

Syamsuddin could not immediately be reached for comment but has previously denied involvement in abuses.

Suratman told AFP: "We don't want to answer those allegations. Who is Human Rights Watch? We doubt their credibility."

The rights group urged the international community to stop providing military aid to the armed forces, "based on the past record of abuse by the military and the current deployment of known abusers in the campaign in Aceh."

Indonesia on May 19 launched its largest campaign for a quarter-century, to wipe out separatist guerrillas. Rights groups say hundreds of civilians have died since then, in addition to rebels, but authorities have restricted access to the province.

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