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Imposition Of Martial Law In Aceh GAM Fails

Imposition Of Martial Law In Aceh After Gam Fails To Fulfil Agreement

The Indonesian government has always preferred that the Aceh problem be resolved through peaceful negotiations. The government has done everything it could in response to a deteriorating situation in Aceh. A series of peace moves from the Indonesian government, including the granting of special autonomy to Aceh has not diminished the intention of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to break away from the Unitary State of Indonesia and to declare independence. After the failure of talks in Tokyo it has been deemed necessary to impose martial law in Aceh.

In this respect the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Megawati Soekarnoputri, has issued presidential decree no. 28/2003 dealing with an integrated operation including the imposition of martial law in Nangroe Aceh Darrusalam (Aceh) Province, after the government received and considered input from many concerned dignitaries and organizations, including the Indonesian Parliament. The decision was taken after the Joint Council Meeting between the Republic of Indonesia and the leadership of GAM which took place in Tokyo, 17-18 May, 2003 failed to reach an agreement to evaluate the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) signed on 9 December 2002 in Geneva.

During the two day meeting, both parties sought to discuss outstanding issues with regard to the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement such as the acceptance of the Aceh Autonomy Law in the framework of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia and the laying down of GAM's weapons. Acting as facilitators, the Henry Dunant Centre, assisted by co-chairs of the Tokyo Meeting (Japan, US, EU and the World Bank), urged GAM to fulfil its obligations under the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Based on a draft statement that GAM had prepared in Tokyo, it is very clear that there is no willingness from GAM to accept Aceh as an integral part of the Unitary State of Indonesia as the framework for a peaceful solution in Aceh. GAM in fact failed to firmly declare its acceptance of the Aceh Autonomy Law and refused to abandon its armed struggle and its separatist activities. GAM failed to use the opportunity in the Tokyo meeting to solve the conflict through peaceful means and political solutions, and refused to drop its independence demands.

Meanwhile, in the field, GAM has continued to make material breaches of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement such as making frequent declarations of independence and separation from the Unitary State of Indonesia, failing to fulfil its obligation to lay down its weapons as required by the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, establishing rival local governmental structures, continuously recruiting personnel for the "Acehnese National Army", often by forcing young villagers to join them, and conducting extortion against the Acehnese people and imposing levies known as the Nangroe tax. These GAM activities are clearly not only against the provisions of Indonesian national law, but also in contravention with the letter and spirit of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

With the presidential decree, the government hopes that the integrated program which includes humanitarian operations, helping local administrations to function more effectively, law enforcement operations and the restoration of security operations, will maintain peace in Aceh and preserve the territorial integrity of the Republic of Indonesia. The government of Indonesia will carry out the integrated operation by upholding human rights and taking every step possible to protect civilians, who are often used as human shields by GAM.

The reaction of the international community to the integrated operation has been one of support for Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, while expressing their hope that a peaceful solution to the problems in Aceh can be reached through dialogue. The door to dialogue remains open if GAM comes forward and accepts the conditions that Indonesia has clearly set out. It is up to GAM to show its sincerity by accepting and fulfilling the provisions of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

Wellington, 22 May 2003

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