Repression in Indonesian provinces
In the provinces seeking
independence from Indonesia, March was marked by increased military presence and
killings. The Megawati government reiterated its commitment to exterminate the
rebellions in Aceh, West Papua, Maluku and Central Sulawesi, and the president
herself ordered the military not to worry about human rights violations in the
Her statements were quickly
followed by an attack March 13 against the head office in Jakarta of Kontras,
the Commission for the Disappeared and the Victims of Violence, Indonesia's
leading human rights organization. Seemingly incited by elements within the
military, 500 thugs vandalized the office, destroying all its equipment and
seizing its files.
Kontras reported 55 cases of
forced disappearances in Aceh between Jan. 1 and September last year. An
estimated 10,000 people have died in that province since December 1976, when the
separatist Free Aceh Movement began to fight for an independent state. More than
300 have been killed this year alone.
The only recent bright spot, at
least temporarily, was in Maluku. A peace treaty was signed Feb. 11 between that
province's Muslim and Christian groups. On Feb. 27, hundreds of Muslims
and Christians from Ambon and Haruku islands marched together peacefully in
support of the Malino II Declaration. The crowd marched around the government
compound, crossing borders dividing Muslim and Christian areas.
Much of the violence in Maluku
has been carried out by the militant Laskar Jihad organization, which was
allegedly created, funded and armed by generals upset by Indonesia's transition
to democracy. Recently, an armed gang waylaid a joint Muslim-Christian peace
procession and abducted 60 Christian women.
A U.S. State Department report
published in March said that human rights organizations were targets of the
security forces last year, with killings, abuse and detentions reported.
Nevertheless, Bush has gotten Congress to resume military (renamed
"police") aid to Indonesia in the name of "fighting
terrorism." Americans interested in stopping the resumption of aid and in
learning about the struggles in the separatist provinces can get
information from East Timor Action Network or from Aceh Referendum Information
Center, at email@example.com.
Published by News and Letters Committees