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GAM Peace Negotiators To Be Dumped In Prison

GAM Peace Negotiators To Be Dumped In Notorious Prison

Issued by Achehnese Community of Australia

To the people and the governments of Australia and other states in the Pacific region, and to all friends.

An urgent report from human rights group in Acheh has reached us today that the Government of Indonesia (GoI) has decided to transfer the five GAM negotiators who have been sentenced to various imprisonment terms (16 to 18 years) from Acheh to Nusakambangan island prison in Central Java.

This island has been made a prison for serious criminals since the Dutch colonial time; notoriously torturous to the prisoners, moreover to political prisoners like the civilian GAM negotiators.

As has been widely known, these GAM negotiators are Achehnese civilians appointed by GAM to represent it in the dialogue process to find a politically, democratically acceptable solution to the conflict in Acheh, through a peaceful means. The Geneva-based Henry Dunant Center (HDC) had, until 18 May last year, brokered the dialogue process since April 2000. On December 9, 2002, the representatives of both GoI and GAM signed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) in Geneva, which was aimed at paving ways towards a peaceful solution to the conflict. These five GAM negotiators had been appointed by GAM out of Achehnese civil society, with the consent from GoI.

While it was widely understood that the CoHA itself was not a final solution to the conflict, with this agreement a political and democratic platform on which both sides could negotiate further under international mediator had actually been established, and therefore the occurrences of stalemate in the whole process should be regarded as that there was a necessity to engage both sides even further into finding or developing acceptable bases for maintaining the peace that had begun to engender in Acheh; a prerequisite as clearly stated in the CoHA itself. But before this platform could be further exercised, GoI disrupted this agreement by putting three more requirements forward as prerequisite to further dialogue process, which was itself against the stated clauses of the CoHA. Had the CoHA been allowed to continue as had been intended planned, the inclusion of those GoI proposed additional requirements could not have been impossible to be negotiated through further dialogue. What was needed on each side, at least up to that point, was a team of patient and cool-headed negotiators ready to discuss matters with full respect of human dignity. Sadly, this had been obviously absent on GoI side.

At this stage, now that the five GAM-appointed civilian negotiators are already imprisoned with charges of treason and terrorism, a label that most see quite at odds with the people whose aspirations have always been for peace and political solution to the conflict, we must call on the Government of Indonesia to reconsider this plan and make the most of humane approach to them and their imprisonment arrangement. Their transfer to Nusakambangan island prison will only add even more severity to them and their family members, a thing that does not comply with the peaceful and humane solution that GoI itself has often pledged to uphold.

Achehnese Community of Australia call on the Australian government, the governments of the states in the pacific region, and their people to do something about this urgent matter, to stop the Government of Indonesia from carrying out this decision to remove the five GAM negotiators from Acheh to the island prison in Central Java, which is about 3000 km away from their home.

Sydney, 14 January 2004,


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