PRESS RELEASE: Concern as Indonesia interns Acehnese civilians as part of crackdown

Islamic Human Rights Commission

30th May 2003

PRESS RELEASE: Concern as Indonesia interns Acehnese civilians as part of crackdown

IHRC is deeply concerned by the Indonesian government’s declared intention to intern Acehnese civilians in camps as part its ‘crackdown’ on separatists.

Reports from the region state that some villages have already been cleared by the Indonesian army, with villagers taken to an undisclosed location. The government states that this is being done to protect civilians who would otherwise be killed or injured as the army moves in to the area as part of its military campaign. The declaration to intern comes in the context of the government’s declaration of a state of military emergency in Aceh, with a presidential decree instituting martial law having taken effect on May 19.

IHRC is deeply concerned that this move will see increased violations of the rights of Aceh’s inhabitants, who have previously suffered grotesque treatment, including killings, at the hands of the army. IHRC is calling on the Indonesian government to cease its military campaign and all its measures that curtail the basic freedoms of the Acehnese people. Already reports of serious abuses and execution style killings have emerged.

IHRC fears that the lack of international scrutiny with regard to the situation in South East Asia is compounded by Australia’s position, effectively in support of increasingly repressive measures by the Indonesian government.

IHRC Chairman Massoud Shadjareh said:

“The plight of the Acehnese people cannot be traded off against arguments of security either nationally, regionally or internationally. The Australian government needs to effect a consistent policy with regard to human rights and consider the plight of the Acehnese as equally horrendous to the suffering of other peoples it has hitherto supported.

“Australia needs to make clear its commitment to human rights in the region and internationally, particularly in the light of its recent actions in the Gulf which saw it use these arguments in support of military action in Iraq.”

With regard to the position of President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s failure to check and control the military’s activities and bring those perpetrator’s to account, Massoud Shadjareh further stated:
“This is clearly a matter for international scrutiny and Megawati will be both morally and legally held responsible for the atrocities carried out in Aceh against its civilians. Her silence thus far suggests her complicity in grotesque human rights abuses.

“All campaigns in Aceh should be suspended immediately and all measures that affect the population’s basic rights should be rescinded forthwith.”

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