Curtail Military & Police Abuses, President Urged
July 23, 2001-- The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) today called on Megawati Sukarnoputri to halt a crackdown by Indonesian security forces on human rights activists and other civilians in Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere in the archipelago. Megawati was appointed President of Indonesia on Monday morning, following the impeachment of Abdurrahman Wahid in a Special Session of the Indonesian parliament. "We urge all Indonesian forces-police and military-to refrain from violent action during this potentially volatile transition," said Megan Walsh for IHRN.
So far today Jakarta has remained relatively calm, as Wahid (known as Gus Dur) refused to leave the presidential mansion. But military and police operations have been escalating throughout Indonesia for weeks. In Aceh security forces have pitted minority Gayos people against Javanese transmigrants; they are responsible for massacres, house burnings, and the displacement of thousands in Central Aceh. In West Papua, BRIMOB mobile police and Kopassus special forces have been carrying out massive "sweeps" against civilians, arresting dozens and displacing thousands.
"In this political climate activists in Jakarta fear the security forces could target them too. Human rights advocates in Aceh and West Papua, already under attack, fear an even worse clampdown," said Lynn Fredriksson, Co-founder of IHRN. "It's been weeks of intensified raids, arrests and beatings in Aceh, targeting prominent human rights organizations. As a show of good will, President Megawati Sukarnoputri should immediately stop these atrocities by ordering police and military to desist. Nothing could do more to stabilize Indonesia."
In other areas of Indonesia, police and military frequently condone militia violence, as in Maluku where they fuel Christian-Muslim conflict. In West Timor, militias acting as military proxies still control the fate of tens of thousands of East Timorese refugees.
"The Indonesia Human Rights Network urges Megawati to do everything in her power to put an end to military and police violence, and to work to establish a judiciary with the authority, capacity and support to bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice," said Walsh. "In order to prevent further violations, Megawati should act quickly to open access to conflict areas throughout Indonesia to international human rights and humanitarian workers, and the press. She should invite in UN special rapporteurs."
The United States has withheld most assistance from the Indonesian military since it leveled East Timor, with militia proxies, in September 1999. Most U.S. military assistance is now restricted by what are known as the "Leahy conditions." None of these conditions has been met.
"IHRN urges the U.S. government to uphold its commitment to genuine reform by maintaining all current restrictions on military assistance and refraining from police assistance to Indonesia until the most basic human rights of people throughout the archipelago are respected," said Fredriksson.
The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) is a U.S.-based grassroots organization working to educate and activate the American public and influence U.S. foreign policy and international economic interests to support democracy, demilitarization, and justice through accountability and rule of law in Indonesia. IHRN seeks to end armed forces repression in Indonesia by exposing it to international scrutiny. IHRN works with and advocates on behalf of people throughout the Indonesian archipelago to strengthen civil society.
IHRN members and advisors are available for interviews.