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Reducing martial law in Aceh to a civil emergency just a political bribe

Fpdra.com - May 5, 2004

Alisa P, Banda Aceh – According Acehnese People’s Democratic Resistance Front (FPDRA) chairperson, Thamrin Ananda, the plan by the interim coordinating minister for politics and security, Hari Subarno, to reduce the status of martial law in Aceh to a state of civil emergency following a meeting with the armed forces chief in Cilangkap, is a mealy a form of political bribery in the lead-up to the July 5 presidential elections.

It is absolutely clear that this is a political bribe if it is not followed by the withdrawal of non-organic troops who are currently stationed in Aceh. The half-hearted position being demonstrated by the government represents a political compromise with specific parties in Acehnese society.

Implementing a state of civil emergency is in essence no different from martial law because it will be using the same legal umbrella, that is Law Number 23/1959 on A State of Emergency. The only difference will be that previously power was held by the TNI and it will now be held by the governor. However it must be understood that the governor also has the right to increase troop numbers on the grounds of security needs said Ananda.

According to Ananda this is only a change of status in formal sense while in substance the situation will remain the same, where democratic space is restricted, freedom of the press is limited and the activities of civilian political activists who are opposed to the agenda of the Aceh emergency military command are curtailed and they are accused of being members of the Free Aceh Movement.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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