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GAM flags trampled and burnt in front of Kalla's office

Detik.com - July 28, 2005

M. Rizal Maslan, Jakarta Ė Scores of people calling themselves the Commandos for the Defense of the Fatherland (Komando Bela Tanah Air, Kombat) demonstrated at the offices of Vice President Jusuf Kalla. The demonstrators were urging the government to end negotiations with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

The action which featured the burning of GAM's flag began at around 10am in front of the State Palace on Jalan Merdeka Selatan in Central Jakarta on Thursday July 28.

During the action, demonstrators wore masks with pictures of the Minister for Communication and Information, Sofyan Djalil, and the Minister for Justice and Human Rights, Hamid Awaluddin. They also wore masks with pictures of GAM figures; particularly those who live in Sweden, with their eyes blacked out.

Before burning GAM's flag, demonstrators trampled on the red flag with the picture of the crescent moon. The action did not disrupt traffic because it was held on the median strip separating Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan. Tightly guarded by scores of security personnel, they also demonstrated at the offices of Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso and the US Embassy.

According to the action coordinator, A. Rizal, GAM is a separatist movement that is undermining Indonesia's unity. Rizal said that in dealing with this separatist movement the government has in fact been moderate and accommodated all of the people's demands though enacting Law Number 18/2001 on special autonomy and bringing Islamic law into effect in Aceh.

However Rizal regretted that in holding the negotiations, the government did not involve other components of society while in fact the meeting involved GAM figures that have already become foreign citizens.

"We smell an economic motive behind the negotiations in Helsinki. That is the desire by foreign parties who want to cooperate with the Bakrie Group the Bukaka Group to work on rehabilitation projects in Aceh", Rizal said accusingly. The Bakrie Group is a company owned by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Aburizal Bakrie, while the Bukaka Group is a group of companies owned by the Kalla family.

Kombat urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to end all forms of negotiation with GAM. As of 11am, the action was still taking place. (ism)

[Translated by James Balowski.]
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