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Int Aceh Peace Conference and Visit to Aceh

International Aceh Peace Conference and Visit to Aceh

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee was represented by Maire Leadbeater at a Jakarta International Seminar “Reconstruction and Peace Building in Aceh”, organised by LIPI (Indonesian Institute of Sciences and Research) University Sains Malaysia and SCHRA (Support Committee for Human Rights in Aceh).

The July 29-31 Conference was addressed by academics, religious leaders, politicians and human rights leaders and also by Major General Bambang Darmono, former Commander of forces in Aceh.

“Many diverse views were expressed, but a common theme did emerge. There is new hope for peace in Aceh because of the agreement mediated by the CMI (Helsinki based Crisis Management Initiative) between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). However, the accord which is due to be signed on August 15, will not work by magic. Most speakers stressed that the international community will play a vital role in monitoring the new accord.”

“After the Conference I spent a valuable week in Aceh meeting with human rights activists, aid and development workers and viewing the tsunami reconstruction process at first hand. It is distressing that progress towards rebuilding homes and infrastructure appears minimal, and that so many people are still struggling under canvas or in crowded barracks.”

However, the people are anything but demoralised. Those I met were determined to rebuild their lives and find new ways to generate income and self-sufficiency. Civil society activists were beginning to spread the word about the peace process even to the remote villages which have been cut off by ongoing military conflict. Right now a peace caravan complete with 288 traditional Acehnese percussion players is setting out on a long journey to take the message that the Aceh people can hope for peace after 30 years of deadly conflict.”

“I was told over and over again that foreigners are welcome in Aceh. The people appreciate the practical post-tsunami help that has been supplied by foreign governments and NGOs. They also believe that the presence of the international community helps to promote peace. EU and ASEAN peace monitors are now arriving in Aceh, but I was asked to bring back the message that the people also want New Zealand to stay involved with Aceh.”

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