Open Letter to Indonesian Ambassador
From Peace Action Wellington
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Members of Peace Action Wellington today went to the Indonesian embassy to deliver the following letter. The letter was received by the Embassy and the Ambassador is digesting the contents.
Spokesperson John Anderson said that "Since the tsunami the Indonesian military has continually been reported as obstructing and pilfering from the aid effort, beating, murdering and raping civilians, and still pursuing the Free Acheh Movement, despite the rebels offering of a ceasefire."
What follows is the letter given to the Ambassador and background information.
To the New Zealand Ambassador from Indonesia,
We are outraged by the continuous abuse and murder of Achehnese civilians by the Indonesian military in the province of Acheh.
It is our understanding that there will be no significant reduction in troops despite the ending of the civil emergency.
Since the tsunami the Indonesian military has continually been reported as obstructing and pilfering from the aid effort, beating, murdering and raping civilians, and still pursuing the Free Acheh Movement, despite the rebels offering of a ceasefire.
We point to the murder of 5 civilians Rudini, 32, Tijarani, 55, Murdi 10, Andam. 8, Rosnidar, 14 and injury of many more in South Acheh on the 5th of May by TNI Battalion 433. Rosnidar was gang raped by your troops before being killed. We point to the looting of the poor villagers of Kp. Alue Bue-Peureulak Barat in East Acheh on the 5th of May by your TNI Marines. We point towards the savage beating of two villagers on the 1st of May by your TNI soldier named Dodi who is posted at Kampung Mèsalè-Indrapuri, Acheh Besar.
It is clear from independent reports,and judging from statements made by the concerned generals themselves, that Indonesian forces are the key obstacle to peace, stability and freedom from terror for the people of Acheh. We demand that all Indonesian army troops be withdrawn from Acheh immediately.
Peace Action Wellington
Many New Zealanders are holding their breath today to see what the budget holds or see the final part of a saga involving a certain evil empire. In a province of Indonesia not much further away than Perth, the people of Acheh are being beaten, raped, robbed and murdered by the Indonesian army. They are not holding their breath for this to end.
The source of the conflict is that the Achehnese have long sought to be independent, and the Indonesian government has long sought to stop this often as violently as possible. The armed conflict has been pursued by the Free Acheh Movement (GAM), which began its fight in 1976. However there has been strong civil society support also as shown during the pro-independence rally in 1999 which drew an estimated two million supporters, almost half the population of the province.
Many hoped that the Boxing Day Tsunami which is estimated to have killed over 120,000 people in the province would bring the Government of Indonesia to it's senses, yet despite a Free Acheh Movement initiated ceasefire, they have continued to brutalise the Achehnese people, particularly targetting civilians.
Today is significant as it marks the end of a civil emergency which is the latest stage in an ongoing attack against the people of Acheh which began when martial law was declared on May 19th in 2003. A few had hoped that this would mean that the tens of thousands of troops in Acheh would be withdrawn from the province. This hope has proven to be false. Despite the positive peace talks that continue in Helsinki, the Indonesian military are stepping up their campaign against the people of Acheh and the rebels.
We now lend our voices to join the many brave men and women of Acheh who have suffered from the Indonesia's terror, and the many independent voices around the world who continue to tell their governments to stand up for peace, justice, and self-determination. Free Acheh Now! Acheh Merdeka!