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Parliament wants troops out of Aceh

Reuters - August 5, 1998

Jakarta – Indonesian legislators have urged the government and the armed forces to end military operations in Aceh and withdraw combat troops from the province in northern Sumatra, news reports said on Wednesday.

"Military operations in Aceh should be terminated because there have been a number of cases of cruel treatment, looting and killing," the Republika newspaper quoted Teuku Syahrul, head of a parliamentary fact-finding team on Aceh, as saying.

A long-running insurgency against Indonesian rule in Aceh, which has about 170,000 people, reached a peak in the early 1990s before the army suppressed it with strong-arm tactics and dispersed its leaders.

Syahrul, who is also deputy secretary of the ruling Golkar party in parliament, told reporters after a parliamentary meeting he had received many reports of human rights abuses in Aceh, such as rape, torture and mass killings. He did not give details. There was no immediate reaction from the military.

The official Antara news agency reported last Saturday that Aceh governor Syamsuddin Mahmud had written to President B.J. Habibie seeking an end to military operations and also asking for the withdrawal of troops not from Aceh itself.