Call for Aceh investigation
The US-based human rights monitoring group Asia Watch has called for a full investigation into alleged human rights abuses in the Indonesian territory of Aceh. The Indonesian military has adopted a shoot-to-kill policy against people it suspects are rebels of Aceh Merdeka (Free Aceh Movement) in North Sumatra, the organisation charged.
Aceh Merdeka is seeking independence for an area which has the status of a special territory within Indonesia. The province has a long history of struggle first against the Dutch and later Jakarta's rule. Jakarta refers to Aceh Merdeka, as it does Fretilin and the Free West Papua Movement (OPM), as a "security disturbance movement".
Military operations in Aceh have been accompanied by reports of serious human rights abuses. A recent report by the US State Department said that thousands may have died in the revolt.
Asia Watch reported in late February that as many as 1000 people may have died in the territory since mid-1989. It also expressed concern about the disappearance of local civilians, extrajudicial executions of suspected guerillas, unacknowledged detentions of large numbers of people and trials which have not met international standards of fairness. There has been no overseas pressure on Jakarta to account for the reported deaths and disappearances in Aceh, or to investigate the behaviour of the armed forces stationed there.
Meanwhile, a coffee shop owner in Aceh was jailed for seven years on February 25. Judge Baginda Hasibuan said Imran Hasan was guilty of letting rebels meet to discuss setting up an Islamic state in Aceh. In a separate trial, civil servant Hasbi Abdullah was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for sheltering three rebel leaders.
[From reports on Pegasus.]