Indonesia

HDC denounces burning of monitor office, urges two parties to work for peace

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, April 6 -- This morning, the office of the Joint Security Committee (JSC) Tri-Partite Monitors (TMT) in Langsa, East Aceh was destroyed by a fire that appears to have been deliberately set, with a crowd of more than 300 people present. No monitors were in the office at the time and all monitors have since been safely accounted for. No JSC employees were injured.

Today's incident marks the second time in just over a month that the JSC monitors and their offices have been attacked by crowds that were clearly organized. Recently, there have been a number of other threats and acts of intimidation against members of the JSC. The Henry Dunant Centre (HDC) denounces these acts.

These are very troubling developments, especially in light of the vast improvements in Aceh's overall safety and security seen since the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement on December 9. The HDC, once again, reiterates its call for the government of Indonesia to take the necessary steps to prevent these types of incidents from happening, and to apprehend those responsible for the March 3 attack against JSC monitors in Central Aceh and, now, the attack in East Aceh.

The HDC's primary concern is the security of all the monitors in each district -- the international component as well as those representing the Republic of Indonesia (RI) and GAM -- and their ability to carry out their duties as agreed to and mandated by the RI and GAM.

It is clear that the vast majority of the people in Aceh support the peace process and the results it has so far yielded. Unfortunately, there are some who have chosen to challenge the efforts of the JSC through violence. Those elements are apparently seeking to undermine the peace process, and to ruin the best chance for a solution to a conflict that has raged here for nearly three decades, claiming 4,000 lives just in the last two years.

If anything, these incidents show exactly why the peace process must continue, and demonstrates an even greater need for a tri-partite JSC to continue to work toward the full demilitarization of Aceh. The HDC urges all those involved to maintain their obligations under the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and to remain on the path to peace.

Chronology

At approximately 9:45 this morning, a crowd of at least 250 people gathered outside the JSC tri-partite monitoring (TMT) office in Langsa, East Aceh. Members of the crowd deliberately set fire to the TMT office. The office was destroyed.

According to the RI, the crowd arrived in 15 trucks, some motorbikes and some small vehicles.

Somewhere between 9:45 and 10:15, the members of the crowd set fire to the office. An interpreter was in the office at the time. He left the building safely. The monitor team informed the police. By 10:15, the office was completely burnt. Preliminary reports indicate everything within the office was destroyed except for a steel strongbox.

At about 10:30, the crowd moved to a nearby hotel where the monitors maintain their residence. Police and TNI were present at the hotel. By 11:15, the crowd had left the hotel.

The TMT has since been moved to the Police headquarters in Langsa. At about 1 pm, the crowd moved to the police station, where they presented a list of demands. Among them: GAM stop causing suffering to the people of Aceh; The JSC should leave if it is not effective; The sovereignty of the government of Indonesia should be maintained. At approximately 4:30 pm, the crowd dispersed.

Contact:

Steve Daly
Henry Dunant Centre Aceh Media
+62 81 2698 1012