Government forces alerted two hours in advance; two parties dispute cause
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, March 20 - The Joint Security Committee (JSC) Thursday urged the Indonesian government to conduct a full investigation into the Central Aceh attack against JSC tri-partite monitors nearly three weeks ago and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
"It is recommended that RI's law enforcement agencies take immediate actions on criminal offenses against JSC's personnel and properties," according to a report made public by the JSC
The incident in Takengon, Central Aceh, during which the monitors were held against their will by an angry crowd for hours, resulted in injuries to two of the monitors - one who was beaten unconscious by members of the mob while 5,000 people looked on.
The incident also resulted in the burning of three JSC vehicles and the ransacking of the monitors' office.
"This wasn't just an attack against our monitoring team and the spirit of working for peace in Aceh, it was also clearly an assault against members of the team and, therefore, a violation of the laws of the Republic of Indonesia," JSC Senior Envoy Tanongsuk Tuvinun said.
One of the report's conclusions is that the incident was linked to the alleged February 26 abduction of three Central Aceh villagers and the February 28 abduction and extortion of a prominent coffee plantation owner in the district.
But, according to the report, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government (RI) disagree about whether those alleged incidents, which had been reported to the JSC, were the direct cause for the angry demonstration.
The report also concludes that government security forces knew about the demonstration several hours before it began.
"Though all personnel were evacuated but protection of personal properties were not successful, security protection and evacuation was rather reactive," the report said.
"The demonstration did have its leaders," according to the report. "The demands of the demonstration were (1) Return all the money that had been extorted by GAM. (2) Immediately stop the extortion by GAM. (3) Remove all the weapons from GAM. (4) Remove JSC from Central Aceh. (5) Declare that GAM is the enemy of the people of Central Aceh."
The JSC has recommended on-site investigations of the reported abductions and extortion, allegedly carried out by GAM - a government charge that GAM denies, to "establish the link between these two incidents and the Takengon incident of March, 3, 2003 to verify the cause of the incident."
The JSC praised the monitors for working together and attempting to diffuse the situation peacefully.
"They worked in great unity with members responsible for each other and a spirit of teamwork," the report said.
The report recommends an on-site assessment of the security situation in Central Aceh and a plan to redeploy the monitors there.
Henry Dunant Centre Aceh Media
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