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NGO uncovers 800 cases of atrocities

Waspada - August 6, 1998

A representative of the Forum of Concern for Human Rights in Aceh, in a three-day visit to Pidie, North and East Aceh had brought to light 800 cases of atrocities which took place during the period of the military operational designation of the region, including thirty which are particularly gruesome. Abdul Gani of the Forum was accompanied on the visit by a member of the Indonesian Parliament.

One man's throat was slit and he was decapitated, the severed head was taken back to his village and put on display. Another was run over by a military vehicle and shot dead in the mouth, another ordered to say his prayers whilst stripped naked.

A widow named Saodah Aleh, 41, told the team that her husband M, Djalil was panning for gold when he was discovered by security forces. He was accused of being involved in the Aceh Freedom Movement, so he was decapitated, his head taken back to the village and the rest of his body left at the site of the crime.

She said that many villagers had witnessed the security forces bringing back the head and coming to her home with it. Then her house was razed to the ground. "They also maltreated me," she told the team.

Another victim was Syech Asnawi Yahya, 32, an academic, who was a local leader, (keuchik) and who tried to prevent the security forces from persecuting his villagers. As he was arguing strongly with the military, they seized him and took him to a bridge nearby, tied a noose around his neck and ordered villagers to push him off the bridge. As this was happening, the military shot him dead. This happened in 1991.

Abdul Gani said there were still numerous cases to be monitored and reckoned that he had details of only about 6 per cent. "We plan to carry out door to door visits to discover more," he told journalists.

He said that President Habibie should take up the question of atrocities in Aceh seriously and not leave it to people abroad to do this. Why is it that when a few people in Jakarta or East Timor are abducted, there's a huge fuss, while people simply turn their backs on what has been happening in Aceh, he asked.

Others spoke out against the continued designation of Aceh as a military operational district (DOM). This had brought thousands of troops to the area, including the elite corps Kopassus, Bandung Kujang troops, troops from the East Java division, and the Mobile Brigade from Medan. Now, thousands of people are coming forward with complaints about what happened during DOM.