Subject: Indon Military Behind Aceh Violence: Australian Expert

also Military pull down hundreds of party flags in North Aceh

Indon Military Behind Aceh Violence: Australian Expert

By Adam Gartrell, South-East Asia Correspondent

JAKARTA, March 3 AAP - The Indonesian military is behind an outbreak of violence in the country's troubled Aceh province, one of Australia's top Indonesia experts believes.

Three political figures have been murdered in Aceh in the past month, threatening a fragile peace, brokered in 2005, that ended a deadly 30-year separatist conflict.

All three men were members of Partai Aceh, the political wing of the former separatist guerillas, GAM. It is widely expected the party will win big in parliamentary elections, slated for April 9.

Deakin University's Damien Kingsbury says the evidence points toward the military, known as the TNI.

"It's not factional fighting, it's very clearly coming from outside and it's very clearly coming from the TNI," Kingsbury told AAP.

Kingsbury believes the TNI is worried that Partai Aceh's success in the election would resurrect Aceh's push for independence.

But Kingsbury says the TNI's actions are much more likely to renew talk of independence.

"The TNI interference at the moment is quite counterproductive and really needs to be reined in," he said.

But International Crisis Group expert Sidney Jones, who has just returned from a visit to Aceh, says it remains unclear who was behind the killings.

"There's been some circulation of flyers which seem to have a very clear stamp of the old TNI mindset," Jones said.

"But the circumstances of the killings ... are very unclear at this stage."

At least one could have been the result of a business dispute, she said.

Whatever the case, GAM and many other Acehnese believe the TNI is to blame, a perception which could lead to an escalation of the violence.

"I'm worried about the level of tension now," Jones said.

"I think a lot depends on the behaviour of both sides."

Under the peace deal, signed in the wake of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami which killed 170,000 in the province, Aceh received more autonomy than other Indonesian provinces.

see also

Press Release by Civil Society Organisations Common Front (Posko) 2009 Election Watch

On 2 March 2009, hundreds of flags of Acehnese political parties were pulled down by troops of the Koramil, Simpang Keuramat, North Aceh

The action by members of Koramil of the TNI (Indonesia Army) in Simpang Keuramat, North Aceh in removing the attributes of the political parties is a violation of the Acehnese people's civil and political rights and a violation of the elections.

Situation according to the law

Law No 10, 2008 on the Elections stipulates that three state institutions shall play a role and co-ordinate their law enforcement activities: Pawaslu, the supervisory election body in the regions, the Indonesian Police and the Attorney-General's Office. There is no place for the Indonesian Army (TNI) to play a role unless there is a specific request from the Indonesian Police.

The above provisions were corrected interpreted by the Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army, General Agustadi Sasongko Purnomo, at a meeting that took place on 17 February 2009 at the office of the KNPI in North Aceh when he stated: 'Security is in the hands of the police, whereas soldiers are kept at a third remove because conditions in Aceh are conducive.

Moreover, according to the criminal code, an incident that harms the interests of one of the parties involved should be regarded as a criminal act. Article 101, para 1-5 of the Law on the Election states that political parties are entitled to use a variety of campaign objects. No other bodies can take action except for those designated by law to regulate party attributes.

The action taken by the Indonesian Army is in violation of Article 102, Para (2) of the Election Law which states: 'The Goverment, Provincial Governments, District Governments, Sub-district Governments, Village Administrations and the Indonesian Police Force are prohibited from taking any actions that favour or harm any of those taking part in a campaign.'

In view of the above, Faisal Hadi, speaking on behalf of Posko in Safeguarding Human Rights for the 2009 Elections reached a 'Common Understanding' that the arguments offered by the Commander of Koramil, North Aceh to justify the action taken by his troops is a grave error because the Republic of Indonesia is a state based on the rule of law and moreover has laws and regulations regarding the running of the elections. 'In view of all this, the action taken is illegal and an arbitrary use of power in violation of the law.'

Faisal also said that it was to be hoped that the officers and men of the Indonesian Army would not disregard the commitment of the Commander of the TNI that the Army would preserve is neutrality.

Asiah Uzia, also speaking on behalf of Posko said that actions undertaken by the forces of law and order must uphold the principles of justice and proportionality, and that the above action was in the nature of collective punishment which was militaristic which should not be undertaken under democratic conditions.

Banda Aceh, 4 March 2009

Translation by TAPOL Comment by TAPOL: It should be borne in mind that Aceh is the only province in the country where local parties are permitted to take part in elections, in according with the Special Autonomy granted to Aceh in 2005.


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