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Acehnese activist M. Nazar released

Jakarta Post - October 10, 2001

Ibnu Mat Noor, Banda Aceh – After serving his full 12-month jail term at the Banda Aceh prison, Muhammad Nazar, chairman of the Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA), was released on Tuesday.

Nazar's release which was witnessed by his lawyers Johnson Pandjaitan and Imam Syafiie Saragih, was greeted by more than 200 SIRA supporters who had awaited his release for several hours at the prison. SIRA supporters held up a huge banner which read referendum while awaiting the release of Nazar in front of the prison gates. His supporters greeted Nazar and put him on their shoulders to express their joy.

Nazar was jailed on November 20, 2000, for calling a self-determination referendum for Aceh's future and "displaying hostility" against the government.

Nazar asserted that he and his fellow activists would continue to seek a peaceful solution to the Aceh problem through a referendum. "Of the utmost importance is that Acehnese people must be freed from the ongoing terrors and intimidation and they must feel safe on their homeland," he said.

He said he would continue his fight along with SIRA which he believed would continue winning Acehnese support. "In the future we will focus on diplomatic struggle to seek a peaceful solution to all the fundamental problems in the province. Under the present situation, it is impossible to deploy masses in fighting for Acehnese people's aspirations," he said.

Meanwhile, a TNI soldier was reported killed and another one injured in a violent battle between the military and the Free Aceh Separatist Movement (GAM) in South Aceh on Tuesday. The deadly exchange occurred when a joint group of the local military confronted hundreds of GAM rebels on a routine patrol to Ujong Pasir Village in the regency.

Lt. Col. Agus Permana, chief of the South Aceh Military Subdistrict, said the body of First Private Bagus, who was killed in the clash, has been sent to his home village in Tegal, Central Java, for burial while Second Private Hartoyo has been hospitalized with gunshot injuries. He said the military, in cooperation with the Police, would continue to raid numerous areas which are known to be GAM strongholds in the regency.