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Military violated human rights in Aceh

South China Morning Post - August 5, 1998

Jenny Grant, Jakarta – The armed forces have systematically violated human rights in the province of Aceh and should be brought to justice, a member of a fact-finding team said yesterday.

Parliamentarian Ghazali Abbas Adan said the military was involved in illegal kidnappings, torture, extrajudicial killings and rapes in the North Sumatran province. "We are naive if we think they are just procedural violations," said Mr Adan, just returned from a five-day visit to Aceh.

The local parliament has listed 1,679 people who have disappeared in the resource-rich region. The Ummat Muslim weekly magazine reported yesterday that between 1,000 and 1,420 bodies were buried in mass graves at 10 locations in Aceh. A local farmer, Ismail, told a human rights forum in Aceh last week he saw masked men dump 17 naked bodies into a river at Bukit Tengkorak in North Aceh in 1990. Ummat said between 250 and 315 skeletons were dumped at the site, known as Skeleton Hill. However, Colonel Dasiri Musnar, military commander of Lilawangsa region in Aceh, said: "There is no forensic evidence that the killing fields exist."

The Banda Aceh Legal Aid Foundation reports 625 women were raped and tortured in Aceh between 1990 and 1996. A woman from Ujong Leubat village, identified as C. S., told the fact-finding team she was raped by three soldiers in 1992. "After I was raped I fainted. In the morning I was kicked out and pushed to a river. I was asked to swim," said C. S., whose husband was suspected of supporting the Free Aceh Movement. Her husband, Yunus, was arrested at the same time and disappeared. Sources told C. S. her husband was executed in public by the military.

Amnesty International says up to 2,000 civilians and members of the Free Aceh Merdeka movement were killed between 1989 and 1993.