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Civilians Suffer Violence In Aceh

Civilians Suffer Violence At The Hands Of The Indonesian Armed Forces

The level of atrocities perpetrated by Indonesian armed forces and the police in Aceh has reached an unprecendented height. Last week alone, dozens of civilians, including women and children have been shot dead in the street on their way to a planned peaceful rally in Banda Aceh; hundreds of others have been wounded by gunshots and beatings. Nearly 2000 vehicles destroyed in towns and on the roads to prevent people from reaching the capital of the province in order to attend the first anniversary of the Referendum rally held last year on 8/11/1999 in which more than a million people attended.

These brutal acts have not stopped. The police and the military are now concentrating on harassing civil society leaders who organised the rally, accusing them of being members of GAM (Free Aceh Movement).

All these have been and are still being largely reported by international electronic media such as the CNN and the BBC, as well as by all the major news agencies, and picked up by many major world newspapers. Unfortunately, such reports are scarcely seen in the press of ASEAN countries.

It is to be much regretted that in countries that are very close neigbours of Aceh, very few people know what is happening there, as though Aceh is a strange place that other peoples in South East Asia have nothing to do with.

The Indonesian government has done its best to discourage other members of ASEAN from intervening in what it regards as purely an intenal affair. Indeed, the way Jakarta is treating the atrocities in Aceh one can't help from concluding that it is either behind all these uncivilised actions, or is totally incapable of controlling its armed forces and police.

In any case, the gross and blatant violations of human rights in Aceh cannot be let to continue. The Indonesian government must be told in the clearest manner that the civilised world community cannot accept such a situation. ASEAN countries should take a stand that human rights are not an internal affair of any particular country, it is the universal concerned of all civilised peoples.

The international community, especially international organisations of nations, such as the UN, the ICRC and most especially regional organisations such as ASEAN, as well as individual neighbouring countries, have the duty to see to it that the uncivilised and inhuman attitude that has been adopted by the Republic of Indonesia in Aceh be stopped immediately.

We thus hereby are sending an S.O.S message to you ASEAN governments, to send a mission to Aceh to verify the claims of gross human rights violations and then to act on your finding because that is the only way the Indonesian authorities could be convinced that brutal violence against innoncent civilians is not an accepted practice in the civilised community of man.

Issued in Singapore, 11/20/2000 by Communications Coordination Sub-Committee of the Support Committee for Human Rights in Aceh (SCHRA)

For more information, please contact: Robert Jereski, SCHRA representative for Human Rights in New York


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