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Acehnese Human Rights Activist in Police Custody

Sunday, November 20th, 2000 For Immediate Release:

Muhammad Nazar, a prominent human rights activist in Aceh, Indonesia, has received his third summons to present himself in the offices of the Chief of Police of Aceh, Indonesia. He is now in police custody in Banda Aceh Police Precinct in Aceh, Indonesia. He was summoned by the police to answer two charges against him. The charges are politically motivated and stem from Mr. Nazar's alleged organizing efforts to boycott Indonesian Independence Day and from his alleged equation of the policies of the regime in Jakarta with neo-colonialism in his homeland of Aceh, Indonesia.

Although a war of independence is being waged in Aceh, between the GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) and the Indonesian military and police, Mr. Nazar's approach to the conflict has been steadfastly one of non-violence. Mr. Nazar is the President of SIRA (the Center for Information for Referendum in Aceh) and as such is a major figure of Acehnese civil society, urging a non-violent resolution to the conflict in Aceh.

Mr. Nazar is one of the organizers of the Referendum rally, which not only brought approximately 500,000 people from throughout Aceh to the capital of Banda Aceh, but which also promoted non-violent conflict resolution through the respect which the armed independence movement showed the rally: the GAM withdrew its forces to the mountains of Aceh throughout the mobilization of Acehnese civil society for the rally.

In fact, during the last two and a half weeks, the Indonesian military and police committed by far the vast majority of human rights violations against unarmed civilians in Aceh. Over forty extrajudicial executions were committed by the military as well as over three-hundred assaults. This is part of a pattern of assaults by the Indonesian armed forces against non-combatants. Some of the non-combatants are activists like Muhammad Nazar, who have been tortured by the Indonesian armed forces.

The irony of the situation is that now Mr. Nazar, a man of peace, is being summoned to the headquarters of the Indonesian police, who continue to violate the human rights of defenseless civilians, including many activists, with impunity. The Indonesian government should not tolerate this and the International community will not stand it.


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