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FPDRA rejects extension of civil emergency in Aceh

Tempo Interactive - October 28, 2004

Sunariah, Jakarta – The Acehnese Popular Democratic Resistance Front (Front Perlawanan Demokratik Rakyat Aceh, FPDRA) has rejected a decision by the coordinating minister of politics, legal and security affairs to extend the civil emergency in Aceh.

Earlier on Tuesday, the minister said that the government was considering three options to resolve the conflict in Aceh, to extend the civil emergency (for six to three months), extend the civil emergency in specific areas (where the Free Aceh Movement still has a base) or reduce the status to one of a civil authority.

According to FPDRA chairperson Thamrin Ananda, none of these three options will bring about any real changes for the people of Aceh. “The government of [President Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono should initiates such changes by reviewing the deployment of troops in Aceh and revoking the state of civil emergency”, said Ananda on Thursday October 28. Ananda believes that by revoking the civil emergency, the Yudhoyono government would then have the opportunity to resolve the Aceh conflict politically, that is by making peace with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist group.

Furthermore said Ananda, at yesterday’s meeting they only sought to find a scapegoat for the continued problems in Aceh by saying that the problem was caused by mismanagement of the operation. “In fact that is not [the problem], they are only scapegoating the management of the operation to cover up the failures of martial law and the civil emergency in Aceh”, he said.

If it is indeed true that the security situation in Aceh is conducive then the Yudhoyono government should end the state of civil emergency, not consider the implementation of these three options. “[Whether or not a] conducive atmosphere [really does exist] in Aceh cannot be determined if the civil emergency is still in place”, he added.

Ananda also expressed his regret over Yudhoyono’s stance on the issue since he has not even touched on the plan to give amnesty to Acehnese political prisoners. During the president’s election campaign in Sumatra, Yudhoyono said that he would give amnesty to prisoners including GAM prisoners. If this can become a reality it could signal that the government is prepared make peace with GAM.

In addition to reviewing the state of civil emergency and the deployment of troops, in order to promptly bring peace to Aceh the government but should hold a dialogue with all elements of Acehnese society, including GAM. Before this however, the government should withdrawal its troops from Aceh, release political prisoners and implement a cease fire. GAM must do likewise and must restrain itself and be prepared to sit together with the government in dialogue.

[Translated by James Balowski.]
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