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Military says Aceh needs to remain under state of civil emergency

Detik.com - November 9, 2004

Nur Raihan, Banda aceh – The commander of the Iskandar Muda Territorial Military Command, Endang Suwarya, says that Aceh needs to remain under a state of civil emergency when the current period ends on November 18. Basically, the security situation which has begun to improve may deteriorate if the status is reduced.

In addition to this, according to the two star general, there are still many Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leaders who have yet to be incapacitated. The statement was made to journalist after breaking fast at his official residence on Jalan Abdul Majid Ibrahim in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh on Tuesday November 9.
“If we slack off, especially on the question of restoring security, that could be a setback later”, he said.

Nevertheless said Suwarya, the decision on whether or not to extend the state of civil emergency remains in the hands of the government. As the one responsible for the operation to restore security, he is only able to make a recommendation on the matter.

Suwarya is recommending that the civil emergency only be extended for six more months. “At the moment the operation has gained a momentum, so it cannot be ended, that is the formulation, however the authority [to make the] decision is Jakarta’s”, he explained.

The difficulties in incapacitating GAM forces he admitted was that that as well as confronting a guerrilla war, his troops also have to deal with an unfriendly battle field. “But of course, if [you] talk about the [battle] field, they will never be finished of because it’s so vast. Right now we are intensifying [operations] by making approaches to the public who in GAM’s circle of influence”, he explained.

Suwarya said that to date it has been very difficult to arrest GAM’s leaders because it is extremely difficult to arrest the few that remain, especially so because sometimes the people in and around militant GAM groups won’t provide any information”.

“Since martial law [came into force] and though [the period] of civil emergency up until now, approximately 30 per cent out of 8000 are still with GAM's forces”, he asserted.

“It remains difficult because those remaining are the militants, looking for one or two is more difficult than looking for lots of people. Day by day however our successes continue, [we are] succeeding in incapacitating GAM, even more so during the civil emergency than during martial law”, said Suwarya adding that the number of weapons held by GAM which are still out in the filed are estimated to be between 500 and 800. (ton)

[Translated by James Balowski.]
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