Aceh: Violations and propaganda

Laksamana.Net - The government and the Henry Dunant Centre (HDC) held a two-day meeting last week to properly define what constitutes a violation of the demilitarization process.

The government was represented by Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda, National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar and Indonesia Military (TNI) chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto. Chairman Martin Griffith and director for Aceh Affairs David Gorman represented the HDC.

Endriartono said the talks were aimed at formulating the criteria for violations of the truce, which has sparked continual verbal conflict between the government and GAM following the demilitarization phase on February 9.

The general said the Joint Security Committee (JSC) was having difficulty in disarming GAM as they had no accurate information on the number of firearms or ammunition GAM possessed and also there were not enough monitors to observe the disarmament.

JSC is tasked with monitoring the peace process, and groups representatives from the Indonesian government and GAM, as well as foreign monitors, who represent the HDC and are headed up by a Thai general.

Under the agreement, GAM is expected to lay down 20% of its arms at 32 secret designated sites in eight regencies across Aceh every month until July. The TNI and police are required to return to barracks and move from strike mode to a defensive force.

Four new Peace Zones were officially inaugurated in Tiro sub-district of Pidie district, Peusangan sub-district of Bireuen district, Simpang Keramat sub-district of North Aceh district, and Idi Tunong sub-district of East Aceh district.

In Tiro thousands of locals attended the ceremony waving GAM flags and shouting for independence. The local TNI Commander protested against this act and called it a strict violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA).

"No firearms are to be found in Aceh in July. Otherwise, we will consider it a crime and the case will be handled accordingly by the police," Sutarto warned.

On 3 March JSC's representative office in Takengon, Central Aceh was attacked by mobs, prompting JSC to evacuate its personnel to Banda Aceh. The situation in Central Aceh remains tense after the attack and a local GAM commander claimed that those who perpetrated the attack were militia groups supported and organized by TNI.

Rebel 'Propaganda' Angers Military

Armed Forces chief General Endriartono Sutarto this week urged international mediators from the HDC (Henry Dunant Center) to stop separatist GAM rebels from claiming that the current peace process would lead to an independent Aceh.

Sutarto said GAM's alleged campaign to convince Acehnese that the agreement would lead to independence for the province and would "confuse" the people.

"HDC has not been firm enough and we hope that it will start doing that," he told reporters.

The Geneva-based HDC has mediated in talks between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the government since 2000. The two sides signed a ceasefire pact on December 9 in an effort to end 26 years of conflict.

Security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono complained last month of similar 'lies' by GAM who had, through "propaganda and political actions" said that the deal signed in Geneva would pave the way for a UN-sponsored referendum on independence.

Jakarta has steadfastly ruled out any form of referendum on independence in Aceh and the peace agreement makes no mention of independence

Though GAM has accepted the autonomy already granted to the province as a starting point for negotiations it has not formally abandoned its demand for independence.

TNI to Boost Security in Papua, Aceh

Joint military chiefs meting in Jakarta last week and agreed to pay more attention to naval security and secessionist movements in Papua and Aceh for the rest of 2003.

"Separatism remains our concern this year, particularly in Aceh and Papua," TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Syamsoeddin told a press conference marking at the end of a two-day military leaders' meeting on Wednesday (12/3/03).

Sjafrie, though making no announcement of proposed new security measures, confirmed that the military would follow government policies on separatism issues in both provinces and has no plans to deploy more troops to either province.

TNI will also focus on the defense of Indonesian waters by increasing the Navy's budget allocation to Rp 700 billion, which is roughly Rp 100 billion more than received by the Army and the Air Force. This is aimed at improving its ability to guard the national territory from the sharply increasing threats from illegal logging, poaching and people smuggling.

"The improvement of military professionalism must be in line with equipment improvement," Sjafrie said.

The budget allocation will help fund the purchase of several patrol ships to add to the Navy's current fleet of 117 of which only 30 percent are deemed seaworthy.

This year's total budget for the TNI at Rp 13.9 trillion is sharply up from last year's Rp 11 trillion but Rp 11.5 trillion goes in paying wages alone. This highlights the perennial issue of how the military can be expected to balance their books without the substantial support from business interests and payments for services rendered such as in Papua.

Indonesia's armed forces total 297,000 on active service with 400,000 reserves. The Army has 230,000, the Air Force 27,000 members and the Navy only 40,000.

Jakarta To Monitor Hotspot Budgets

Even more news of budgets came this week when Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno said on Thursday that a team would be set up to supervise the use of the regional budget in Aceh and Papua where, he said, funds could be 'prone to abuse' by provincial officials.

Under the special autonomy packages for the two provinces they were given the authority to draw up their own plans on how to spend their budgets with due regards to the needs of their local communities.

The Special Autonomy laws for Papua and Aceh were designed to attenuate demands for independence from the Papuans and Acehnese, long disappointed with government policies in their provinces and the historical 'Javanese Colonialism' that as seen Jakarta getting by far the lion's share of Indonesian wealth.

"Since we allocated a huge amount of money to them, we have the right to supervise its use," Hari said when explaining that the central government wanted to see whether or not local programs would improve the welfare of locals.

In 2002 Aceh received Rp 2.2 trillion from the general allocation fund, and another Rp 1.87 trillion from agreed profit sharing of oil and gas revenue. For 2003 the province is expected to get a total of Rp 2.3 trillion from the fund, and a similar profit sharing arrangement.

Papua received a total of Rp 1.3 trillion in 2002 from the general allocation fund and this will be boosted to Rp 1.5 trillion this year. The province also received Rp663 billion from profit sharing of oil and gas revenue in 2002 and will get a similar amount this year.

Sabarno denied claims that Jakarta was thus intervening in the internal affairs of autonomous provinces and said the government was just monitoring to ensure that education, health and other public service sectors received sufficient funding from the regional budget.

Earlier in the week President Megawati Sukarnoputri warned regional governments of the need to improve public services, and reminded them that the main reason for granting regional autonomy was to ensure people's welfare.

"Regions must remember that stronger authority means a heavier obligation, not just more rights," Megawati said when addressing a seminar on the 'revitalization' of Sangihe and Talaud regencies.

Megawati on Jan. 27 signed decree No. 1/2003 dividing Papua into the provinces of Papua, Central Papua and West Papua but this has not yet been implemented.

Former Papua governor Barnabas Suebu said this week that the split would be feasible only when Papua had sufficient human resources, maturity in social and cultural interaction, and steady economic growth.

The Papuan administration, fully backed by the provincial legislature, has set up a joint team to study any possible legal flaws in the presidential decree and to file a judicial review with the Supreme Court.

Papua -PNG Border No Go Area

Islamic militants and Papuan militia are reportedly massing on the border between Papua and Papua Mew Guinea (PNG), forty kilometers from the Papuan capital of Jayapura.

Media sources in Australia say that the border with PNG has become a no-go area for Indonesian police and human rights workers - and home to Kopassus-run training camps for Laskar Jihad Islamic militants and Papuan militia.

Lawrence Mehui, from the pro-independence Papuan Presidium Council, says that since November Kopassus has been recruiting villagers. In January it began recruiting people in the large transmigrant settlements around Arso, south of Jayapura. "There is a direct connection between the Islamic groups and the military because all the weapons used are military standard," he says.

Johannes Bonay, the director of Elsham, Papua's human rights organization, confirms that the situation has deteriorated.

Last week the Jayapura daily, Cenderawasih Post, reported all 250 Kopassus personnel were withdrawing from Papua, but many Papuans believe it is a standard troop rotation.

The establishment of Laskar Jihad and militia training camps on the border has also increased clashes with OPM fighters.

Earthquake, Flooding

An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale shook some parts of Manado in North Sulawesi, and Ternate on North Maluku, on Monday. Its epicenter was 100 kilometers (62 miles) under the seabed. No casualties or damage were reported.

Heavy rains in Jayawijaya district have caused landslides and floods in Kurima, Hubikosi, Kurulu, Assologaima and Wamena sub-districts.

Central Sulawesi local newspaper Radar Sulteng reported on Tuesday that Commission I and III of the House of Representative paid an official visit to Central Sulawesi. The members of the commissions addressed questions on the follow-up of the Malino Agreement and the handling procedure of IDPs (internally displaced persons) in the province (Poso IDPs). The Central Government is being asked to provide some IDR 34 billion to handle IDPs issues in Central Sulawesi this year.

More Bombs Found In Maluku

Workers found two homemade bombs Thursday (13/3/03) on the roof of the Al Fatah Mosque, the main mosque in the Maluku capital of Ambon.

The homemade devices were discovered by workers painting the roof of the mosque, police chief Lt. Col. Noviantoro said. Police, who defused the bombs, have questioned nine people in connection with the case, Noviantoro said.

Ambon military chief Col. Yudhi Zanibar said residents "were not provoked" and the situation in the city remained calm.

It was the first such incident in several months in Ambon, the scene of bloody fighting between the Christian and Muslim communities. The three-year conflict ended in 2001 with the signing of a government-sponsored peace treaty.

Another homemade bomb was discovered on Thursday in a local market in the Batu Mera suburb of Ambon and was safely disposed of by the security forces.