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on the Disappearance of
Jafar Siddiq Hamzah

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Stories and statements from September 3 to the end of  2000

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by Nora Boustany 
August 25, 2000, Friday 
Washington Post

Concern for Indonesian

Amnesty International, the U.S. Committee for Refugees, the East Timor Action Network and a number of U.S. congressmen have expressed deep concern in recent days about the disappearance of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a U.S. resident and Acehnese human rights activist who has campaigned against Indonesian military violence and has kept the international community informed about human rights violations in the strife-torn Indonesian province. He disappeared in Medan, in northern Sumatra, on Aug. 5, said Lynn Fredrickson, Washington director of ETAN.

"What we and Amnesty International are calling for is a high-level statement from the [Clinton] administration. If this can happen to Jafar, who has such a high profile, it can happen to anybody," Fredrickson said in an interview earlier this week.

Hamzah has testified before the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights on past Indonesian military atrocities in Aceh. Fredrickson urged halting the resumption of any type of military assistance to Indonesia and said independent international investigators should oversee the probe into his disappearance.

Indonesian police are formally in charge of the investigation. "He had received threats from anonymous telephone calls and e-mail messages which we think are military-related," Fredrickson said. "Our best sources say it was the work of Indonesian armed forces. He disappeared in broad daylight without a trace, obvious evidence that this was the result of a professional operation."

Instead of investigating the military or militia groups the military supports, Indonesian authorities have put GAM, the armed resistance movement in Aceh, at the top of its list of suspects, Fredrickson said. Hamzah was opposed to violence as a means of resistance but was in contact and on good terms with the rebel group, she said.

In an Aug. 17 letter to Albright, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) and Rep. Dennis J. Kuchinich (D-Ohio) said: "We consider the safe return of Mr. Hamzah to be a litmus test of the Indonesian civilian government's ability to exercise control of its military, which should be a prerequisite to any resumption of United States military cooperation with Indonesian forces."

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Translation of IFA's Letter to President Wahid

Kepada Yth, K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid 
President Republik Indonesia 
di- Jakarta

Subject: The disappearance of the leader of International Forum of Aceh in Medan.

Assalamualaikum Wr. Wb.

With all due respect,

We from IFA, Non-Governmental Organization, located in NY, writing this letter to you,  Mr. President, in relation to the disappearance of our colleague Mr. Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, the chairman of IFA, on Saturday, August 5 2000. We see that there is a strong effort to silence activists fighting for human rights in Aceh. Ironically, the incident of Jafar’s disappearance happens in the implementation of the humanitarian pause.

Human rights crime has been continuing in Aceh, even though the memorandum of humanitarian pause has been signed by both parties. This incident occurs during the humanitarian pause.

This incident questions the seriousness of central government’s policy in solving conflict in Aceh and the seriousness towards the memorandum itself. This incident also indicates that the State does not provide a security of human rights towards its people, including the right to live and the right to obtain security, as mentioned in UN declarations of civil and political rights.

The absence of attention and action towards legal process of the previous cases (Sukardi and Nashiruddin Daud, Muhammad Haikal, etc), show that the state has given ‘impunity’ to human rights violation in Aceh.

In relation to such incidence, IFA states to Mr. President holding the highest military position in the armed forces to:

1. Strongly encourage TNI/Polri officer to find Jafar (the chairman of IFA), and return him to his family in a healthy condition.

2. Announce that Mr. Jafar S. H. is not a member of Free Aceh Movement (GAM), but the chairman of IFA (NGO). 

3. The Government of Indonesia is expected to seriously provide the security towards its people. And, create a conducive environment for the implementation of human rights in Aceh. 

4. As the highest officer in the Armed Forces, to take any strategic security policy concordant to humane principles. And to pull out all the TNI officers from Aceh so that the people of Aceh can obtain secured feeling against ‘ABRI (Armed Force) Trauma’, and so that the people of Aceh are able repossess their normal life back.

We wrote this letter with all the respect, and hope that Mr. President can take this into account wisely and attentively.


Suraiya IT 
Vice Chairman, IFA 

Robert Jereski 
Executive Director, IFA

cc. Kofi Annan, United Nations 
UNHCHR, United Nations 
US State Department

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Former Political Prisoner - Torture Victim - Incorporates Kidnapped Indonesian Human Rights Advocate, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, Into A Dance Performance

August 22, 2000

Contact: Robert Jereski
Executive Director, International Forum for Aceh 
212 973-1782

Using "dance as her weapon" Potri Ranka Manis relates the recent increase in political kidnappings in Indonesia to her own torture under the Marcos regime on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.

The dance troupe founded by Potri, Kinding Sindaw, performed a piece, "The Disappeared", which she choreographed in the short time since Mr. Hamzah's abduction on August 5th in Medan, Indonesia. Kinding Sindaw performed the piece at the Dance Theater Workshop, First Track, in Manhattan at 4 o'clock, Wednesday afternoon.

"Its the same story with new players. Peoples suffering under Southeast Asian dictatorships being oppressed by their own governments, which pursue exploitative economic policies of big business in conjunction with local cronies." said Potri.

Mr. Hamzah is a human rights lawyer, and a resident of Queens, New York, who has documented the shady relationship between Mobil Oil and the Indonesian military. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have stated that the military is responsible for a great number of human rights violations in Mr. Hamzah's native province of Aceh. Mobil is extracting gas from that province and has been accused of having supported military operations there which involved serious human rights violations.

A photo is available.

- end -

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Hundreds of lawyers to press for police action on Jafar
Serambi Indonesia
22 August 2000

Hundreds of lawyers from five lawyers' organisation in North Sumatra plan to visit the N Sumatra police chief Tuesday to seek information about the fate of their colleague, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, who disappeared without trace more than two weeks ago.

Irham Buana Nasution, director of the LBH-Medan, said lawyers feel that the police have not handled the case with the seriousness it demands. Asked why such an action was planned, Irham said: 'Feelings are running very high about the fate of our colleague.' Besides being chairperson of the International Forum for Aceh, Jafar was a member of Ikadin, the lawyers' association. 'We need to show our solidarity, to try to help find out what happened to him and to provide legal assistance.'

The decision to take this action was taken at a meeting on Friday when a team of lawyers was formed to take action about people who have disappeared. On Saturday, the team held a meeting with members of the local assembly, the DPRD, and delivered a statement about the disappeared, including Jafar. 'We asked the DPRD members to press the military and police chiefs in Medan to do everything to find these people,' said Irham. He told the press the team of lawyers will press hard for action to find Jafar, who has been known for so long as a person deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Aceh.

'We intend to ask the chief of police what efforts he has made to find Jafar and the others who have disappeared,' said Irham.

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LBH-Medan director questioned on Jafar's disappearance
TEMPO Interaktif, 21 August 2000

Following the disappearance on 5 August of Jafar Siddiq, chairperson of the International Forum for Aceh, Irham Buana Nasution, director of the Legal Aid Institute in Medan, LBH-Medan, was questioned by the police in Medan on Friday, 18 August.

'I was summoned to answer some questions about Jafar Siddiq, about his activities when he worked for LBH-Medan, about well I know him and about my last meeting with him,' Irham told TEMPO.

Irham strongly believes that there is a political conspiracy surrounding this case, especially as it was known that Jafar was highly critical of the human rights situation in Aceh and events during DOM in Aceh. 'It's quite likely that the military are involved in this (abduction). Despite all the efforts already made, among others by several international human rights organisations, nothing has come to light about the case. He said that most activists in Medan now believe that Jafar is dead.

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excerpt from: 
Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights 52nd session 15 August 2000 Morning

Administration of justice and human rights


DAVID WEISSBRODT, Subcommission Expert, said the Subcommission had before it a draft resolution calling on the Commission on Human Rights to give priority consideration to the draft convention the Subcommission had developed on the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances; the Commission had not devoted adequate time to the draft convention, and he hoped the Subcommission would adopt the draft resolution by consensus.

He wished to express concern about the reported disappearance of Jafa (sic) Siddiq Hamzah, Chairperson of the International Forum of Aceh, from the city of Medan, while on a human-rights mission to Aceh. He urged the Government of Indonesia to investigate fully this reported disappearance.

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Rights groups appeal for US-based activist in Indonesia

WASHINGTON, Aug 15 (AFP) - Human rights groups on Tuesday voiced deep concern over the fate of a New York-based activist missing in Indonesia's Aceh province, and demanded more action from US officials on his case.

Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a permanent resident of the United States and director of the New York-based International Forum on Aceh (AFA), vanished in the city of Medan on August 5.

His friends say they fear he may have been kidnapped because of his vocal campaign against killings and torture in Aceh, which has been consumed by violence linked to a drive for independence.

"We are hopeful, we cannot say we are optimistic," said John Miller of the US-based East Timor Action Network, which has worked closely with Hamzah.

"Frankly we believe the military is responsible," he added.

Senior officers have denied abducting Hamzah, but human rights groups here put little credence in their claims of innocence.

"In the past, military denials have meant absolutely nothing," said Sidney Jones, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch Asia in New York. "We don't have the sense that the military is using its various contacts to find out where Jafar is."

The United States has expressed concern over Hamzah's disappearance and diplomats in Jakarta have been meeting Indonesian officials to try to trace him.

But Miller called on the US government to do more, saying an expression of concern was needed from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"We would argue that the United States should take it up a notch or two diplomatically," he said. "They need to say something much clearer out of Washington itself."

A State Department official said Tuesday that Washington had been "making queries" over Hamzah's welfare.

"We continue to press them," he said.

Hamzah, a native of Lhokseumawe in North Aceh, campaigns for the redress of massive human rights abuses during 10 years of military operations against the Free Aceh (GAM) separatist rebel movement.

A student and part-time taxi driver, he left New York for Aceh in late June to set up the Support Committee of Human Rights for Aceh (SCHRA).

The GAM has been fighting for an independent Islamic Aceh state since 1976 and more than 5,000 people have been killed in the fighting over the past decade.

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Acehnese free to hoist flags: GAM chief
Jakarta Post, August 15, 2000

Missing activist

Abdullah [Tengku Abdullah Syafiie, a Free Aceh Movement (GAM) commander] also condemned the disappearance of New York-based International Forum for Aceh (IFA) activist Jafar Siddiq Hamzah.

"Jafar is not a GAM member. He's an activist who was strongly defending the Acehnese internationally.

"If only we were not in the humanitarian pause period, I would order my troops to blast away at all military bases in Aceh. This is their work," Abdullah said.

IFA has also written to President Abdurrahman Wahid, calling for a thorough investigation into the case, Antara said.

Bukit Barisan Military commander Maj. Gen. I Gde Purnawa said in Medan on Monday that his office had no plan to take any action in Jafar's case.

"We have no such plan. Just ask the North Sumatra Police chief for confirmation," he said.

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Demonstration for Jafar Siddiq Hamzah
August 14 demonstration, New York City. Photo by Charles Scheiner.

PROTEST MESSAGE from Gunawan Wibisana, Indonesian Organizer (of August 14 protest at Indonesian Consulate in New York City)


The fall of former dictator Soeharto in May 1998 after 32 year in power gave new life to the independence movement throughout Indonesia. Fresh activism has been met with fresh repression, with hundreds more civilians killed. Almost everyday Indonesians confront a heart-wrenching paradox: they are told they have been freed. . .but one more student has been taken away, one more human rights activist dissappeared, tortured or killed. Paramilitaries, trained and supported by the Indonesian Army and National Police, create an atmosphere of terror throughout Indonesia. A common Indonesian criticizes this state of things at great risk of being murdered.

On August 5th.2000, Mr. Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a human rights lawyer and activist and chairman of the New York City-based International Forum for Aceh, mysteriously disappeared in broad daylight from the main street in Medan (the third largest city in Indonesia). Soeharto's method of instilling fear in the population in order to insulate himself from criticism has survived his apparent downfall.

Jafar Siddiq, a 35 year old student at the New School for Social Research , left New York to return to Aceh in late June. He had planned to spend the summer in Aceh setting up a network to document human rights violations and to work for resolution of the political conflict. He was also hoping to open an office for International Forum for Aceh in Aceh. He had planned to return to New York to resume his studies at the New School, where he is pursuing a Masters Degree in the Political Science.

When he returned to Aceh this summer, Jafar Siddiq contacted friends in the United States to convey a message: he knew he was being followed. His experience Too many friends of his had been kidnapped, tortured, or killed. Soeharto is no longer in power. But Jafar understood that Soeharto's loyal military still strong and hunting all the activist who are anti Soeharto and his barbarian regime.

From 1965 to this day, people in Indonesia live in fear. The years of living dangerous continue. August 17th is Independence Day in Indonesia. But Indonesians have no right to open our mouth freely. We do not even have our right to think about freedom.

How can we Indonesian celebrate Indonesian Independence Day while each year thousands of students, activists, and journalists are "disappeared", kidnapped, tortured, or killed by a brutal military and the paramilitaries they train?

Tell us where is Jafar!!!
Tell us where all the students and activists "disappeared"!!!
Indonesian People's Struggle Koordinator; Gunawan Wibisana e-mail;

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New York, Aug 14 (ANTARA) - The New York-based International Forum for Aceh (IFA) on Sunday sent a letter to President Abdurrahman Wahid and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, asking for help to find its chief Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, who disappeared in Medan, North Sumatra on August 6.

Signed by its deputy chief Suraiya and its executive director Robert Jereski, the non-governmental organisation which is fighting for Acehnese human rights, called the President to help find Siddiq.

"IFA called on Gus Dur - the president's nickname-- in his capacity of the supreme commander of the Indonesian National Defense/National Police to help find the missing leader and return him to his family," it said.

It reaffirmed that Siddiq is not a member of the Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM), but human rights activist and chief of the organisation.

IFA expressed hope that the government would seriously protect their citizens and create conducive climate for upholding human rights in Aceh.

The NGO also asked Gus Dur to secure policies in line with humanitarian principles and withdraw all TNI troops from Aceh to provide secure feeling for Acehnese who have suffered from traumatic experience during the TNI operations.

The IFA also called the UN secretary General to exert his influence on efforts to free Siddiq from possible illegal arrest in line with the ninth clause of the UN Human Rights Declaration.

Meanwhile, local military chief overlooking Aceh province said in Banda Aceh last week, the TNI was not responsible for the disappearance of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah.

"My command has never been engaged in abductions, illegal arrests or covert operations to make people disappear. So we do not know what happened to the IFA official," said Bukit Barisan Military Region commander Maj Gen I Gede Purnawa.

Siddiq, according to one of his relatives, was feared to have been kidnapped in or on his way to North Sumatra's provincial capital of Medan last weekend.

The 36-year-old activist, a naturalized American citizen, was believed to have been abducted by an unidentified group as he could no longer be contacted by his family, said the relative, who asked to remain anonymous. He arrived in Medan on July 29 to meet with a few local NGO activists and pick up some equipment for the office of the Supporting Committee of Human Rights for Aceh (SCHRA) to be opened in Banda Aceh in the near future.

Before going to Medan, Siddiq spoke at a seminar on human rights in Banda Aceh on July 22, the relative said. He left Aceh for Medan in North Sumatra on July 27.

Jafar was known as one of the activists who proposed a meeting between Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and Free Aceh Movement leader Hasan Tiro in New York. The proposed meeting itself never materialized.

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No More "Big Apple" For Jafar
Tempo Magazine, August 14 - 21, 2000

The disappearance of Jafar Siddik Hamzah adds to a long list of people gone missing in Aceh.

The man ate his lamb fried rice. Once in a while he wiped sweat off his dark brow. Around a month ago, in an Arab restaurant in the Cikini area, Central Jakarta, the human rights activist still had the chance to ridicule himself in front of the guests - TEMPO and a number of NGO activists. "After dining, I must quickly go to the toilet," said the man who had part of his large intestines removed due to inflammation.

The man is Jafar Siddik Hamzah, Chairman of the International Forum for Aceh (IFA) -- an international NGO based in New York, USA -- announced missing in Medan, two weeks ago. The family claimed they lost contact with Jafar on Saturday, August 5.

It has been five year since Jafar became a permanent resident of New York. At the end of this year, the human rights activist planned to sue Mobil Oil, an American company with rights to an oilfield in Aceh, in US courts, on allegations of human rights violations. Jafar and IFA are often outspoken on human rights abuses in Aceh. His appearance in North Sumatra was for the sake of struggle, to establish the Support Committee of Human Rights for Aceh (SCHRA), another humanitarian NGO.

According to Cut Zahra, her older brother left the house of a relative in Medan on Saturday two weeks ago, to meet a number of NGO activists. At 11.30 a.m. the husband of a US citizen of Filipino blood contacted Susi, her sister-in-law. The friends that Jafar met told Cut that they last saw him at 1.30 p.m.. Then Jafar disappeared into thin air. A meeting with a number of Japanese NGOs that Saturday evening was then cancelled.


Was Jafar kidnapped? No one is sure. Relations with other elements of the Aceh people, including the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) are good. As a human rights activist he may have enemies. But who they are, no one knows.

The military? There are rumors that Jafar was taken away by the authorities because he was too active in fighting for the Aceh people. But, said the commander of the Bukit Barisan Military Region, Major General I Gede Purnawa, "Currently there are no intelligence operations by our command. I firmly declare that TNI is not involved in this case."

Jafar settled in the US initially as a UN volunteer, taking care of Bosnian refugees and other humanitarian assistance. Lately, he founded IFA and used his apartment in Woodside, New York as its office. While taking his graduate studies at a university in New York, Jafar worked as a taxi driver with a salary of US$200 a day. Besides, Jafar actively managed Su Aceh, an Aceh and English language periodical he published in Aceh. He planned to issue a weekly in four regional Aceh languages in the troubled province.

Jafar became one of a number of Acehnese who have disappeared in Indonesia. A couple of months ago, Tengku Nashiruddin Daud, a DPR (House of Representatives) member from PPP was found dead in Brastagi, North Sumatra. It is alleged that Nashiruddin was murdered because he reacted harshly towards human rights violations in Aceh. Afterwards, GAM's spokesmen, Ismail Syahputra, also vanished in Medan. The disappearance of Ismail took place a couple of days after the GAM Government Assembly (MP-GAM) activist, Tengku Don Zulfahri, was killed in Malaysia. MP-GAM is Hassan Tiro GAM's political opponent. Those whom have disappeared from the common people are numerous. And most of these missing persons cases have not been solved.

To ignore the Aceh problem, especially if the number of missing people increases, is not a wise move. The matter will further smear the central government's image. Isn't referendum, as demanded by the people of Aceh, the cheapest solution?

Arif Zulkifli, Zainal Bakri (Lhokseumawe) / AK

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Pressure Mounts to Solve Aceh Activist's Disappearance
Detikworld, August 14, 2000
Reporters: Rusdi Mathari & Aulia Andri/ Lyndal Meehan

Jakarta -- The disappearance of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a permanent resident of the United States and director of the New York-based International Forum on Aceh (IFA), has prompted leading human rights groups Amnesty International and Queens to petition the American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Meanwhile, the commander of the armed wing of the Free Aceh Movement (AGAM) has called on his followers to continue to protect the people of Aceh from terror.

Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, was last seen in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, on August 5. Jafar, a native of Lhokseumawe in North Aceh, is a leading human rights activist in his troubled homeland, campaigning for the redress of massive human rights abuses during military operations against the Free Aceh (GAM) separatist rebel movement. Several other leading human rights activists and GAM members have also disappeared in Medan since the implementation of a temporary 'humanitarian pause' in Aceh on 2 June.

Amnesty International, Queens and the IFA have now taken their concerns to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In a letter received by detikworld today, Sunday 13/8/2000, IFA Executive Director Robert Jereski, stated that the groups have written to Albright expressing their desire that the American government take all necessary steps to ensure Jafar's return. They have also asked the powerful diplomat to pressure the Indonesian government to solve the case thoroughly.

Jereski also explained that the groups have asked the American Ambassador to meet with government and military officials as a means to show the seriousness with which they view he case.

"We request that the Indonesian government use all necessary means to find and return Jafar to his family safely," Jereski's statement reads.

While Jafar has been missing for nearly 2 weeks, Jereski said that after meeting government officials and human rights activists he was confidant Jafar was still alive and would be returned.

Meanwhile, Aceh's Serambi Indonesia daily newspaper reports that the leader of the armed wing of the Free Aceh Movement (AGAM), Tgk Abdullah Syafei, has called on all AGAM members to continue to protect the people of Aceh from terror, kidnappings and murder.

The suffering of the people of Aceh must be remembered, Syafei told the Serambi Indonesia, and all AGAM members were responsible for protecting them.

He also expressed deep anger at the abduction of Jafar. "if we weren't committed to the peace pause, I would send all AGAM intelligence members into the field to look for Jafar," he said adding that all AGAM members were currently withdrawn deep into the hills.

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Activist Missing - Kin Fear the Worst 
By MAKI BECKER Daily News Staff Writer 

Queens-based human rights activist who planned to launch a newspaper on the Indonesian island of Sumatra has been missing from there for nine days, and supporters and family fear he may have been kidnapped.

Until he vanished Aug. 5, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, 35, had been calling family and friends about every two hours "so there would be some sort of trail," said Eric Guttormsen, a rights advocate.

Guttormsen said that on several occasions, Hamzah had been followed in Sumatra and feared for his life.

Hamzah's colleagues in the U.S. say either paramilitary forces or a renegade faction of the independence movement could be responsible. They fear he may be the victim of torture or worse.

A native of Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, Hamzah had helped draw international attention to atrocities — including murder, rape and torture — committed or sanctioned by the government against independence activists in Aceh during the 1990s.

Currently living in Woodside, Hamzah founded the International Forum for Aceh in New York.

Hamzah was visiting the city of Medan on Sumatra, where he is believed to have met with a prominent local businessman that Saturday. He left at about 1 or 1:30 p.m. and headed on foot to meet with a foreign news crew and a Japanese pro-democracy organizer but failed to show up.

"It was a major street in the third-largest city in Indonesia," said his friend Sidney Jones, head of Asian affairs for the Manhattan-based Human Rights Watch.

U.S.-based human rights workers are pleading for help to the U.S. Consulate in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. Officials there have contacted the head of the nation's police force but have received no answers.

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens) said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering told him the State Department will put pressure on the Indonesian government to find answers.

Hamzah raised questions about Mobil Oil Co.'s knowledge of the government-backed atrocities against the Acenese.

Mass graves were found near Mobil's drilling sites in Aceh, and allegations have arisen about whether Mobil let the army use its tractors to dig the graves.

Mobil has denied any knowledge of the alleged human rights violations.

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Violence Festers in Aceh
By Chris McCall Special to The Washington Post 
Tuesday , August 15, 2000 ; A18

ALUE PAPEN, Indonesia –– The soldiers asked a simple question when they marched into Ramulah's village in Indonesia's strife-torn Aceh province: Which did she value more, her money or her life?

"Remember, we have killed people," she recalls one of them warning her. So Ramulah, 40, gave them all the money she had, forking over nearly 3 million rupiah--about $320. It was a year's savings from her work planting nuts. Then, Ramulah recalls, the aggressive and well-armed soldiers got to the point.

"Where is GAM?" they repeatedly demanded at gunpoint, using the acronym for the Free Aceh Movement, the rebel group that has spent more than a quarter-century fighting to turn this resource-rich Indonesian province at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra into an independent country.

By the time the 15 truckloads of soldiers and paramilitary police returned to their base, they had shot at least two people dead, according to local residents. Witnesses said a 35-year-old man was gunned down trying to run away as soldiers began a sweep of his village. The other victim was killed as he was returning from running an errand in the fields for his father. Families of both men deny either was involved with the rebel movement.

The Aceh war is not over yet, despite a headline-making truce the Indonesian government and rebel leaders signed in May. In the first two months of the cease-fire, which began on June 2, both sides reported numerous violations--including clashes that left more than 50 people dead--dashing hopes of a quick resolution to the thorny separatist conflict.

Incidents like the one here in Alue Papen occur almost daily, according to human rights groups working in the province. Those groups place most of the blame on the Indonesian military, although the rebels have admitted committing some acts of violence in self-defense.

The cease-fire also has been marred by the recent disappearance of a prominent New York-based Acehnese human rights activist. Human rights groups in Indonesia and the United States say they believe Jafar Siddiq Hamzah was kidnapped two weeks ago by Indonesian soldiers although military officials have denied responsibility.

The Aceh conflict, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives in the past decade, is one of Indonesia's most vexing problems. The Acehnese are upset that they receive only a small fraction of the oil and mineral revenue generated by their province and say the only way to ensure that they get their fair share is to secede from Indonesia.

But if Aceh succeeds in its independence fight, as East Timor did last year, government officials and political analysts in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, fear that several other disgruntled provinces will follow suit, leading to a breakup of the 13,500-island archipelago, the world's fourth-most-populous country.

President Abdurrahman Wahid's administration said last week that it wants to extend the cease-fire, which is set to expire Sept. 2. The move is strongly opposed by the military, which wants to hunt down the rebels. GAM has not yet responded formally to Wahid's offer, but its leaders have said they are "strongly inclined" to continue the truce.

Even if the cease-fire is extended, government officials and rebel leaders say they are not optimistic it will lead to an end of the conflict. The separatists want a U.N.-sponsored referendum on independence like the one in East Timor last summer. Officials in Jakarta have flatly ruled out such a step.

In his state of the nation speech last week, Wahid vowed that Aceh would not be granted independence, saying that "the government is determined not to compromise, let alone tolerate, the separatist movements in this country." At the same time, he pledged to give Aceh increased autonomy by the end of the year, allowing the provincial government greater freedom and a bigger share of local tax revenue.

In the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, a committee of rebels and Indonesian security forces has spent the summer trying to hammer out a set of rules governing the cease-fire. But there is little trust; each side accuses the other of gross violations of the agreement.

The Indonesian police contend the rebel group has forced villages to send between two and five young men each for guerrilla training, and police officials say they fear the rebels are preparing to mount an assault.

"Maybe the short-term strategy is to gather strength," said Col. Ridhwan Karim, an Indonesian police officer on the committee. "They are using this time to find money, with the aim of fighting."

Rebel officials maintain that they are respecting the truce. They acknowledge, however, that they have killed police officers who they say were searching for their base. "We are only defending ourselves," said Amni bin Ahmad Marzuki, a rebel representative on the committee.

The rebels regard themselves as holy warriors in the Muslim jihad tradition. "If we die, we die," rebel commander Sofian Daud said at the rebels' hidden base, which the Indonesian forces are desperate to find. "If our country is not freed, we will definitely fight until we die."

Daud, 33, and his dozens of fighters spend much of their time in a wooden shelter smoking and drinking tea. They are surrounded by modern communications equipment and automatic rifles, and they train in remote clearings. Lookouts give them advance warning, usually via mobile telephone, on the approach of Indonesian troops.

Alue Papen is not far from Daud's base, and the villagers' sympathy with the rebels is clear. Villagers say that the rebels do not threaten them and that the military and police forces are mostly outsiders from Indonesia's main island of Java who kill, wound and steal.

After years of military brutality in which hundreds of innocent people were jailed, tortured and killed, the people of this part of Aceh have little love left for Indonesia. And incidents like the one in Alue Papen continue to broaden the gulf between both sides.

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Appeals by the U.S. Embassy Ignored by the Indonesian Government Regarding Missing Human Rights Lawyer

August 13, 2000

Contact: Robert Jereski or Eric Guttormsen, 
International Federation for Aceh (212) 973-1782

A formal inquiry to high level government officials, military and police officers of Indonesia by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta regarding the whereabouts of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah was not responded to last week, according to the consular official in charge of political affairs at the embassy. Mr. Hamzah, a U.S. resident who was pursuing a Masters Degree at the New School for Social Research in New York City, is a prominent human rights lawyer and founder of the New York City chartered non-profit organization, International Forum for Aceh.

International Forum for Aceh members in New York have been in constant contact with the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. They have been requesting that the U.S. government adopt a stronger position in view of Mr. Hamzah's disappearance on August 5th. IFA members are urging U.S. officials to take more urgent and compelling appeals to extract, from Indonesian authorities, an account of any investigation which the Indonesian authorities may have undertaken.

Human rights organizations around the world have also demanded answers.

The International Forum for Aceh has persuaded U.S. Congresspersons to join other U.S. officials in requesting Secretary of State Madeliene Albright take a more prominent role in the appeal to Indonesian authorities.

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Missing Persons Commission Demand Investigation Into Aceh Activist's Disappearance

Detikworld, August 12, 2000
Reporter: Nuruddin Lazuardi / Fitri & Lyndal Meehan

Jakarta - The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, has demanded the Attorney General’s office investigate the disappearance of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, the head of the International Forum for Aceh (IFA). Kontras claim that Jafar's disappearance is inextricably linked to his activities in fighting for human rights in strife-torn Aceh.

"The AG should give special consideration to the case by conducting an investigation on his disappearance because Jafar was the head of a consortium which continually concerned itself with human rights abuses," the head of Kontras’s Advisory Board, Munir, told the press. He had just emerged from a meeting with AG Marzuki Darusman at his office today, Friday 11/8/2000.

Jafar disappeared on Saturday 5 August 2000 during a visit to Medan to set up an NGO. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Munir also expressed Kontras’ disappointment with the Bukit Barisan Military Area Commander who refused to meet and coordinate inquiries with Jafar's family. "We see it as a very uncooperative action," Munir said assertively.

From information gathered by Kontras, Munir stated that Jafar's disappearance is linked to his political activities. Dedicated to investigating and revealing human rights abuses to the public, Jafar had made certain quarters uneasy. Munir added this case is also tied to other instances of disappearances from Medan in recent months.

Munir added that he had also discussed the investigations into the Tanjung Priok incident with Marzuki. They have agreed to hold regular meetings between the AG, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and Kontras to investigate the case.

In the meeting, Munir suggested the AG alter standards in the investigation of the Tanjung Priok case to bring them into line with global standards. Kontras has also submitted several reports outlining the forgery of the identities of victims as well as the identities of those who carried out the massacre in the Tanjung Priok port area in 1984.

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Tension escalates in Aceh ahead of Aug. 17 celebration
Jakarta Post August 12, 2000

In Jakarta, Munir, head of the supervisory board of Kontras, hinted that the Attorney General's Office and the National Commission for Human Rights would further investigate the disappearance of Aceh human rights activist Jafar Siddiq Hamzah.

"Jafar is chief of the New York-based International Forum for Aceh (IFA) concerning human rights abuses. His disappearance is certainly linked to other missing activists in Aceh," Munir told journalists in Jakarta after a meeting with Attorney General Marzuki Darusman.

Jafar's whereabouts have remained a mystery since last Saturday when he visited relatives in the North Sumatra capital of Medan. The relatives say they lost contact with him.

Kontras believes the Indonesian Military (TNI) is responsible for what it calls the professionally executed disappearance of Jafar, which left no trace of clues or no witnesses. (50/edt/bby)

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IFA Letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

To: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 
United Nations, New York, NY 10017

Honorable Commissioner:

I am writing to you as the Executive Director of the International Forum for Aceh and on behalf of our Chairman, Mr. Jafar Siddiq Hamzah. Mr. Hamzah disappeared on Saturday, August 5th in Medan, Indonesia. Circumstances indicate that it is almost certain that he has been abducted.

Mr. Hamzah's prominence as a human rights lawyer, who has tirelessly spoken out for accountability for human rights abuses in Indonesia, had made him the target of numerous death threats. Earlier this year, his cousin was murdered. In the weeks preceding his disappearance he received more death threats than usual. The Indonesian military has not launched an investigation; and the investigation begun by the police is, for various reasons, evidently not being pursued in good faith.

The international community of human rights activists has quickly spoken out against Mr. Hamzah's disappearance (see statements released by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International below). I urge you to request that the Indonesian authorities search diligently for Mr. Hamzah. Furthermore, the increase in abductions, disappearances, and extrajudicial executions in the past year underscores the urgent need to focus the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Commission on the conditions of terror afflicting the peoples of Northern Sumatra.

For this reason, the International Forum for Aceh respectfully requests that the United Nations Human Rights Commission take two steps to address the deteriorating situation in Northern Sumatra: 

first, the Commission should call on Indonesian authorities for a full investigation of Mr. Hamzah's disappearance and of all parties responsible for his possible abduction; 

second, the Commission should call for an investigatory team to be sent by the U.N. to examine the on-going human rights violations in Aceh.

Because of the urgency of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Hamzah's disappearance, I would appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.

Robert Jereski 
Executive Director 
International Forum for Aceh _____________________________________________________
Please help us free Jafar! US Campaign to free Jafar 
Please contact: International Forum for Aceh Rob Jereski 212.973.1782

Also please send fax petition to: The Hot Line fax number in Geneva, Switzerland is 41-22-917-0092.

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Jafar's disappearance represents a threat to all defenders of human rights, says Munir 
Tempo Interaktif, 11 August 2000

The coordinator of KONTRAS, Munir, SH believes that the disappearance of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, chairman of the International Forum For Aceh, is one of a chain of events involving earlier disappearances of human rights activists. It should therefore be given very special attention by the Attorney General's office which should thoroughly investigate the case. Munir was speaking after having a meeting with Attorney General Marzuki Darusman at his office on Friday..

Jafar's disappearance represents a serious threat to all those who work for humanitarianism in Aceh and everywhere in Indonesia. Kontras is therefore conducting its own investigations, in cooperation with Komnas HAM. 'We have already collected some information and spoken to several witnesses in Aceh,'" he said, stressing that help from all sides was extremely important.

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Jafar's Family to Hold Talks with Military Area Commander
Detikworld, August 10, 2000
Reporter: Aulia Andri / FW & AH

Medan -- The whereabouts of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, the head of the International Forum for Aceh is still clouded in mystery. Jafar's family holding talks this afternoon, Thursday 10/8/2000, with the Bukit Barisan Military Area Commander, Maj. Gen I Gede Purnawa in Medan, North Sumatra.

Medan Legal Foundation director, Irham Buana Nasution, who accompanied Jafar's family told detikworld that Jafar's family had come to find information about Jafar's whereabouts. "We want to appeal to the Commander to pass on any information about Jafar. If he still alive, please return him to his family. If he is not, please tell us his burial site," Irham said in his office.

Irham said that Jafar's disappearance may have be orchestrated by the military, who object to the information and contacts in Aceh that Jafar has built. As an active supporter of human rights in Aceh, Jafar often distributed information about human rights abuses in Aceh, Irham added. "Of course, the military is not been very pleased with such a campaign," Irham alleged.

Irham also brushed aside the possibility that Jafar deliberately disappeared only to gain public attention. "If he deliberately disappeared, that would be stupid. Jafar would be sacrificing his career and image if he did that," Irham said.

Meanwhile, Jafar's sister, Cut Zahara, has said she trusts in God for the fate of her brother. She has entrusted the search for her brother to the Medan Legal aid Foundation. Today's meeting was attended by the Network for Indonesia Democracy Japan (NINDJA) represented by Seiki Natsuko.

[From what we know from an earlier posting, when the family and friends visited Kodam HQ they met neither the commander nor members of his staff. TAPOL]

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By Bryan Virasami. STAFF WRITER
Newsday (New York, NY) 
August 11, 2000, Friday 

Five days after a Queens human rights activist was reported missing in Indonesia, his colleagues in New York said they believe he's still alive and continue to enlist government help to find him.

A Queens congressman and Amnesty International are among the groups calling on Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to pressure Indonesian officials to locate Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a native of the troubled province of Aceh.

He was on a trip to document and highlight human rights abuses when he fell out of contact with his family while he was visiting the city of Medan on Saturday.

Hamzah founded the New York-based International Forum for Aceh in 1998 to expose human rights abuses by the military and police in Aceh, where hundreds of people have been killed.

Robert Jereski, executive director of the forum, who's among several supporters keeping in constant contact with Indonesian officials and human rights groups, said yesterday that sources in Aceh expressed optimism about Hamzah's fate.

"The research that student activists and human rights groups in Indonesia have done has led them to believe Jafar is still alive," said Jereski. "I was thrilled to hear that."

He offered no further details on why the groups believe this.

The Free Aceh Movement, an armed separatist group, signed an agreement with the Indonesian government in May to end the violence but activists believe the military has not stopped punishing opponents.

Many in Aceh want to separate from Indonesia because they believe the government doesn't share the wealth generated by oil and other natural resources taken from Aceh.

Hamzah, 35, of Woodside, was reported missing after he failed to keep several scheduled meetings. His sister in Indonesia alerted officials after Hamzah, who telephoned her every two hours, stopped calling Saturday morning.

Forum members in Manhattan said while the U.S. State Department has called on the Indonesian police and military to locate Hamzah, one U.S. lawmaker the State Department to intensify its request.

In a letter to Albright, Rep. Anthony D. Weiner (D-Queens) said Hamzah is an active opponent of military repression and abuses in Aceh and East Timor.

Weiner called on Albright to "take all possible steps" to facilitate Hamzah's safe return.

In Washington, a State Department official, who asked not to be named, said yesterday that the U.S. ambassador in Jakarta continues to make inquiries on Hamzah's behalf.

"The United States ambassador and other embassy officials have met with senior civilian police and military officials to express our concern about the disappearances of Mr. Jafar Siddiq Hamzah and to urge the Indonesian government to do all in its power to find him and return him safely to his family," said the official.

Joshua Rubenstein, the Northeast regional director of Amnesty International, said the Indonesian military and police are known for their "extreme measures" against those who oppose them. In Aceh, human rights violations include arbitrary arrests, torture, disappearances and at least 300 killings this year alone, according to Rubenstein.

Sidney Jones, the Asia director for Human Rights Watch who has worked with Hamzah for years, said yesterday that she was hopeful the unconfirmed reports about Hamzah were true.

However, despite optimism about the State Department's efforts, she was puzzled about the lack of information from the Indonesian military and police about their efforts to track who are behind the suspected abduction.

"It shouldn't be this hard. It should be possible when somebody disappears in broad daylight from a main street in the third largest city in the country, " said Jones. "Somebody must have seen it."

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11 August 2000

From 21 - 24 July, we the undersigned visited Banda Aceh and had the privilege of spending three memorable days working with our close colleague and friend, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah. He helped arrange our meetings with many NGOs and eagerly invited us to meet his large family at a celebration to mark of the birth of a cousin. Having only just recently returned to Aceh from New York, he was in his element, renewing contacts with human rights activists while at the same time bonding with his family who mean so much to him.

We have known him and worked closely with him for a long time and see him as the inspiration in our work to alert the world about the human rights violations perpetrated by the security forces in Aceh, his homeland.

As chairman of the International Forum on Aceh, Jafar played a leading role in convening four international conferences on Aceh - in New York in December 1998, in Washington in April 1999, in Bangkok in July 1999 and in Banda Aceh in January 2000. It was at the Bangkok conference that the Support Committee on Human Rights in Aceh was founded and during our stay with him in Banda Aceh, we discussed plans to make SCHRA an effective organisation to campaign internationally on human rights in Aceh. As always, during our discussions with him, his energy was boundless, his sense of dedication unparalleled and his personality full of warmth, wit and friendship.

His disappearance coming so soon after our meeting with him in Banda Aceh is a wicked attempt to warn us all, Acehnese, Indonesians and foreigners alike, to abandon our efforts to internationalise the pain and sufferings of the people of Aceh. But this cruel act has had precisely the opposite effect. In the week since Jafar's disappearance, a campaign calling for his release has swept many countries, in particular the US where he has been living and studying for many years. His disappearance has drawn world attention to the human rights situation in Aceh as no other event has done. It has also strengthened our own determination to devote our efforts to exposing the continuing violations in Aceh.

As so many of his friends and acquaintances have said, Jafar is one of the true leaders of the cause of human rights in Aceh and throughout Indonesia. We hold the Indonesian government and military accountable for their failure to do everything in their power to locate Jafar and return him safely to his family.

We call on the Indonesian government:

1. To exert every effort to discover the whereabouts of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah and return him safely to his family. 2. To arrest the criminals responsible for his disappearance and ensure that they are tried and punished.

We call on all human rights organisations in Indonesia and around the world to exert pressure on the Indonesian government to discover Jafar's whereabouts and punish his captors.

Please address your appeals to:

President Abdurrachman Wahid, Office of the President, Istana Merdeka, Jakarta 10110 Fax: 62 21 345 2685 / 380 5511 / 526 8726 email:

Major.General I Gede Purnama, Regional Military Commander of North Sumatra, KODAM/I Bukit Barisan, Medan Phone/Fax: 62 61 845 1300

North Sumatra Chief of Police Brig.General Sutanto, Police Headquarters, phone: 62 61 787 9372 fax: 62 21 787 9245 or 787 0357

NATIONAL POLICE CHIEF Lt. Gen. Rusdihardjo Kapolri Markas Besar Kepolisian RI Jl. Trunojoyo 3 Kebayoran Baru Jakarta Selatan Indonesia Fax: + 62 21 720 7277

Copies to: Mr Hasballah M. Saad State Minister for Human Rights Affairs Jl Kuningan Timur M 2/5 Jakarta 12950 Indonesia Fax: + 62 21 525 0075 / 525 0139

Also send letters of concern to the Indonesian embassy in your country.

Please keep us informed of your actions.

Signed on behalf of SCHRA by:

Sinapan Samydorai, Secretary-General of the Support Committee on Human Rights in Aceh, SCHRA 
Carmel Budiardjo, Director of TAPOL and Europe Coordinator of SCHRA

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Question about Jafar at UN Press Briefing

11 August 2000


The following is a near verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Manoel de Almeida e Silva, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Question: Non-governmental organizations, working here and in Indonesia and dealing with East Timor issues, put out a notice about an Aceh activist who has been missing in Indonesia since last Saturday. They have made representation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. I was wondering if you have had any information or contact with the Indonesian Government or military on the activist’s whereabouts.

Deputy Spokesman: You would have to check with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights about their contact with the authorities. Within the United Nations system, they would be the proper contact for this case.


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Family fears silence spells activist's end
South China Morning Post 
Friday, August 11, 2000

Last Saturday Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, one of Aceh's most prominent human rights activists, stopped calling his family at agreed two-hour intervals. He has not been heard from since. Now he is feared dead, or captured by military intelligence.

The United States Embassy has expressed its "deep concern". Islamic activists in the US have called him a "sincere Muslim man of conscience . . . a model for other Muslim activists committed to peaceful solutions to violence and bloodshed in Aceh".

Groups in Indonesia are calling for police action to find Mr Jafar. The International Forum on Aceh, which Mr Jafar founded, is reportedly offering a 20 million rupiah (HK$18,200) reward to anyone who can find and return the missing activist. But few have hopes he will be found safe.

"When he returned to Aceh this summer, he was immediately aware that he was being followed," said Asia director of Human Rights Watch Sidney Jones.

"He did not want to be outdoors late at night and made sure that friends and family knew where he was at all times. Too many people he knew had been kidnapped, tortured, or killed."

He went missing while in the North Sumatran capital, Medan, where two previous unsolved murders have taken place this year - that of legislator Nashiruddin Daud and Free Aceh Movement spokesman Ismail Syahputra.

"The family of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah are extremely worried and fear that he may have been abducted by irresponsible elements," the founder of the Tapol human rights group, Carmel Budiardjo, said.

"We regard his disappearance as an extremely urgent matter . . . Jafar is known as a human rights fighter who has frequently criticised the Indonesian Government in connection with the need to resolve the problem of Aceh."

Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) is also worried for Mr Jafar. "When a report of the disappearance was made to the North Sumatran police force, it was rejected on the grounds that there was no evidence that Jafar S. Hamzah had disappeared," said Komnas HAM secretary-general Asmara Nababan.

Mr Jafar disappeared as government officials and rebel leaders were meeting in Geneva to discuss extending the "humanitarian pause" now in force in Aceh.

The truce was meant to allow fresh humanitarian help to reach thousands of Acehnese who are victims of the armed struggle. Instead, independent observers say violence has increased, no humanitarian aid has arrived without strings attached, and the pause has allowed both sides to grow stronger, especially the Free Aceh Movement.

Ari Maulana, of LBH Aceh, a legal aid institute, said Mr Jafar's case was similar to those of the activists who went missing in Jakarta in March 1998.

"If it is the military who have caught him, we are very pessimistic he is still alive," he said.

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U.S. Committee for Refugees Calls on Indonesian Government to Locate Missing Activist
August 10, 2000

The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) condemns the apparent kidnaping of Jafar Hamzah Siddiq, a New York-based human rights activist, and urges the Indonesian government to take all necessary steps to locate him and secure his release.

Hamzah is a native of Aceh, on the northwest tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The Acehnese have sought independence for more than 120 years, first from Dutch colonizers and later from Indonesia. Thousands of civilians have been killed in Aceh in recent years, many at the hands of the Indonesian military. The June 2 establishment of a "humanitarian pause" in the fighting between soldiers and Acehnese rebels has done nothing to ease the violence.

A U.S. permanent resident, Hamzah heads the New York-based International Forum for Aceh (IFA), a nongovernmental organization. In January, he helped form the Support Committee for Human Rights in Aceh (SCHRA). Numerous human rights-related organizations, including USCR, participate in SCHRA's work. Hamzah recently returned to Aceh for several months to establish a local SCHRA office and to work on legal issues concerning Indonesian military abuses.

Hamzah went missing in Medan, a city just outside of Aceh, on August 5. Aware that he was being followed, he had been in contact with family members every two hours. When he failed to attend a meeting or to contact his family, concerns grew that he had been abducted. Since then, family members, friends, and organizations worldwide have pressed local and national authorities to take all measures to locate Hamzah. The U.S. embassy in Jakarta has urged senior Indonesian officials to do all in its power to resolve the disappearance.

Hamzah's family and friends believe the Indonesian military or affiliated groups may be responsible for his abduction. The North Sumatra regional military commander has denied any knowledge of Hamzah's whereabouts, but on August 9 the commander refused a visit by Hamzah's family and several legal and human rights groups. No reason for the refusal was given.

USCR policy analyst Jana Mason, who returned from a three-week trip to Indonesia on August 7, was in recent contact with Hamzah. "Jafar is one of the true leaders of the cause of human rights in Aceh and throughout Indonesia," said Mason. "The Indonesian government and military must be held accountable if they fail to do everything possible to locate Jafar and return him safely to his family."

USCR urges interested parties to pressure the Indonesian government, military, and police to ensure the immediate and safe return of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah. An advocacy contact list can be obtained by contacting Jana Mason at (202) 347-3507 or

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We of the Student Coalition for Aceh (SCA) are alarmed at the disappearance of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, Chairman of International Forum for Aceh, co-founder of SCA and internationally known human rights activist. Jafar, who is a permanent resident of the United States, was visiting Indonesia for several months to work towards building an international campaign for peace in Aceh. Jafar disappeared on Saturday, August 5, in Medan, where he had been staying with his brother and meeting with friends and NGOs. We believe that Jafar is in great danger, based on previous incidents where prominent Acehnese leaders have been kidnapped, tortured, or killed in Medan.

We call upon the US and Indonesian governments to launch a thorough investigation into Jafar’s disappearance. We demand that they put pressure on local authorities in Medan to locate his whereabouts and verify his well-being. We call upon the Indonesian Armed Forces (Tentera Nasional Indonesia, TNI) and the National Police to immediately investigate the case and take serious action against those responsible.

The Student Coalition for Aceh was founded by Jafar Siddiq Hamzah in October 1999. Based at the New School University in New York, where Jafar was pursuing a master’s degree, SCA consists of undergraduate and graduate students from New School University, New York University, Columbia University, CUNY Law School and the University of Vermont. SCA was established to raise awareness about the situation in Aceh among civic and student communities in the United States. SCA activities in Fall 1999 and Spring 2000 included panel discussions with guest speakers, documentary screenings, article writing, open forums and a demonstration at the United Nations. SCA also met with student leaders from Aceh and other parts of Indonesia to share information and build relationships of solidarity and collaboration. Jafar worked closely with us in all our activites, both as an advisor and a participant. He always encouraged peaceful dialogue among all parties, and emphasized the importance of supporting the non-violent civil movement in Aceh.

Please contact these people and urge them to do everything in their power to find and free Jafar.


Lilianne Fan Coordinator Student Coalition for Aceh
Pauline Fan Program Director Student Coalition for Aceh

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The New York Times August 10, 2000

Human Rights Watch, a human rights group based in Manhattan, urged the Indonesian government yesterday to increase efforts to find a lawyer and activist from Queens who vanished five days ago in Sumatra. The group said it feared that the lawyer, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, 35, might have been kidnapped by Indonesian military or paramilitary troops on Saturday. The group said Indonesia's regional military commander had denied any knowledge of Mr. Hamzah's whereabouts, and appeals by the United States Embassy in Jakarta to the government had yielded no results. (AP)

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Aceh NGOs urge government to locate IFA chief
Jakarta Post, August 10, 2000

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): Nine local prominent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) called on the government on Wednesday to do its utmost to locate Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, the chief of the New York-based International Forum on Aceh (IFA) who is missing feared abducted.

"We strongly suspected that Jafar's disappearance is closely related to his active efforts to uphold human rights in Aceh," Syaifuddin Bantasyam, the executive director of Aceh's Forum Peduli HAM, said in a media briefing attended by local human rights groups.

"Based on our observation, the pattern of his 'disappearance' is similar to operations conducted by the military.

"Therefore we demand the government be responsible and help locate Jafar," he said.

Similar calls also came from the monitoring agency Human Rights Watch.

Antara reported that IFA had offered a Rp 20 million cash award for whoever found Jafar.

Jafar was last seen in the North Sumatra capital of Medan on Saturday. Police have stepped up efforts to locate him since Tuesday but to no avail. Among the nine NGO representatives at the briefing were the chief of Aceh's National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), Iqbal Faraby, the chief of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) in Aceh, Aguswandi BR, and the head of Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) in Aceh, Rufriyadi.

Ari Maulana of LBH Aceh said that Jafar's case was similar to those of the missing activists in Jakarta around March 1998.

"If it is the military who have caught him, we are very pessimistic he is still alive," he said.

Also attended the briefing was Djamaluddin Hamzah, Jafar's younger brother.

Forum Peduli HAM activist Yarmen Dinamika said that in 1988 Jafar had came up against two of Aceh's largest companies, LNG Arun and Mobil Oil.

"Jafar has evidence that the two companies provided facilities for the military that turned out to be torture camps and that the company provided equipment for the mass burial of victims of violence for a certain period of time," Yarmen said.

Free Aceh Movement (GAM) spokesman in East Aceh Abu Khalifah claimed that whoever kidnapped Jafar was also responsible for the murder of House member Tengku Nashirudin Daud and the disappearance of GAM leader Ismail Syahputra, both of which took place in Medan.

"We have been investigating this for quite sometime and we think its the work of the Indonesian Military Intelligence Agency (BIA)," Abu said on Wednesday.

In Central Aceh, a military subdistrict office in the Bandar area was raided by gunmen with grenades. A police station in the Bukit district was also burned down by an armed gang, Maj. Zulkifli G.T. of the Central Aceh Military command said on Wednesday.

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Statement Regarding the Refusal of the Regional Commander and His Officers to Receive the Family of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah 
Translated by TAPOL

10 August 2000

On 9 August, the family of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, chairman of the International Forum for Aceh (IFA), accompanied by friends from the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Medan, the Lawyers Association of Indonesia, (IAI), Forum of Acehnese Overseas (FAD), Yayasan Putra Dewantara (YAPDA), LBH Apik, dan Network for Indonesian Democracy, Japan (NINDJA) paid a visit to the headquarters of the North Sumatra Military Command in order to meet the regional military commander and make a report to him about the disappearance of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah. They were told that the group could not meet the military commander because he was not in his office. After leaving their name cards, the group left, saying that they would return the next day.

However on 10 August, when they returned to the regional military command headquarters, they were told that they could not meet the commander or any members of his staff. No reason was given for the refusal.

The family of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah and the friends accompanying them herewith declare that they are very disappointed by the attitude adopted by the regional military command. The right to demand justice and a sense of security is enshrined in Articles 17 and 30 of Law No 39, 1999 on Human Rights. The family and friends call on their comrades and friends to support them in their endeavours.

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International Forum for Aceh Offers Twenty Million Rupiah Reward to Find Jafar

Detikworld, August 10, 2000
Reporter: Arifin A / Fitri & Aaron Holmes

Banda Aceh - International Forum (IFA) is offering a Rp 20 million (US$ 2,300) reward to anyone who can find and return Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, the head of IFA, who has been missing in Medan since Friday 5/8/2000.

The offer was made by the deputy head of IFA, Suraiya IT, as cited in Antara, Wednesday 9/8/2000. Suraiya is very concerned with the safety of Jafar, whose whereabouts are still unknown. Based in New York, IFA has been very active in fighting for autonomy in the restive province of Aceh.

"We are concerned because of the kidnappings and killings of Aceh activists in Medan in the past," he said. In an attempt to ensure Jafar's safety, IFA has urged all its members, the government and sympathetic NGOs to campaign for the liberation of Jafar.

In the mean time, Amnesty International and East Timor Action Network (ETAN), two international NGOs which often work together with IFA, have also expressed their concern over Jafar's fate. "Frankly, we are very concerned for Jafar's safety. The Aceh born legal expert has often collaborated with ETAN on Human Rights issues and military violence in Indonesia and East Timor," said John Miller when interviewed by detikworld via telephone. Amnesty International has expressed the same concern as ETAN.

According to Amnesty International, Jafar's family has unsuccessfully checked all hospitals in Medan since Jafar was reported missing

Miller is urging both the US government and the Indonesian government to investigate Jafar's whereabouts..

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U.S. Embassy Statement on Disappearance of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah

The Embassy of the United States of America is deeply concerned by the disappearance of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a permanent resident of the United States who is the Director of the New York-based International Forum on Aceh (IFA). We understand that he was last seen on Saturday, August 5, in Medan, and that his family and friends have been unable to establish his whereabouts since he failed to appear for a scheduled meeting that evening. Mr. Jafar Siddiq is well known in Indonesia, the United States, and, indeed, throughout much of the world for his human rights legal work.

The Ambassador and other Embassy officials have been in touch with senior civilian, police, and military officials of the Indonesian government to express our concern about the disappearance of Mr. Hamzah, and to urge that the Indonesian government do all in its power to find him and return him safely to his family. We have also been in contact with his family, colleagues, and friends to express our concern and sympathy for their distress due to his disappearance. We hope that anyone with information on Mr. Siddiq's whereabouts will come forward so that fears about his fate can be put to rest and his safety assured.


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United States concerned over disappearance of Aceh activist

JAKARTA, Aug 9 (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday expressed "deep concern" over the sudden disappearance of a US-based human rights activist in the Indonesian city of Medan last Saturday.

A statement issued by the US embassy here said that the activist, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a permament resident of the United States and director of the New York-based International Forum on Aceh (AFA), was last seen in Medan on August 5.

"We understand that ... his family and friends have been unable to establish his whereabouts since he failed to appear for a scheduled meeting" the same evening, the statement said.

It said the embassy had made its concern known to the Indonesian government, police and military officials, and appealed for information on his whereabouts.

On Tuesday a member of Hamzah's family told AFP in the Acehnese capital of Banda Aceh that they feared he had been abducted.

"Normally brother Jafar calls the family every two hours to inform us of his whereabouts," Hamzah's younger brother Jamaluddin said.

"But since he finished meeting his friend at around 1:00 a.m. (1800 GMT) on Saturday, we have not heard from him."

"Our relatives in Medan have tried to look for him but we have not been able to find him. We are now really worried," he added.

Hamzah, a native of Lhokseumawe in North Aceh, campaigns for the redress of massive human rights abuses during 10 years of military operations against the Free Aceh (GAM) separatist rebel movement.

He returned to Aceh some two weeks ago to set up the Support Committee of Human Rights for Aceh (SCHRA), Jamaluddin said, adding that his brother had planned to stay in Aceh for one year.

Jamaluddin said he did not want to speculate as to Hamzah's possible kidnappers, but pleaded with any captors to release his brother.

"What wrong has he done? (What) can cause his disappearance because his purpose of visiting Medan was only to meet old friends," Jamaluddin said.

Syarifuddin Bantasyam, the director of Forum of Human Rights Carein Banda Aceh, told AFP that Hamzah could have been kidnapped because of his vocal "international-level campaign" on killings and torture in Aceh.

The GAM has been fighting for an independent Islamic Aceh state since 1976 and more than 5,000 people have been killed in fighting over the last decade.

Pro-independence sentiment has grown in the region following human rights violations by soldiers and officials in the past decade.

The syphoning-off of Aceh's natural resources by the central government has also fuelled resentment against Jakarta.

A three-month truce, dubbed a "humanitarian pause" and designed to stem the violence in the staunchly Muslim province, has reduced, but not stopped, the violence.

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Indonesia Army: Not Involved In Activist's Disappearance
Associated Press, August 9, 2000

JAKARTA (AP)--The Indonesian military said Wednesday it had nothing to do with the disappearance of Acehnese human rights activist Jafar Siddiq Hamzah.

"We have never received orders to do such things," said Capt. En Situmorang, a spokesman for the regional military commander Maj. Gen. I Gede Purnawa.

Jafar, the founder of the New York-based International Forum for Aceh, was last seen in Medan, a town in central Sumatra, on Saturday.

"There is a strong suspicion that Jafar has been kidnapped by a group opposed to the upholding of human rights in Aceh," Saifudin Bantasyam, the executive director of Aceh Human Rights Concern, said in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

Data collected by his office shows that more than 50 people have disappeared in the province over the last two months.

The Indonesian military has been accused of widespread human rights abuses in Aceh in the course of trying to quell a 25-year old rebellion by separatist rebels.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement released Tuesday that Jafar was planning to spend the summer in Aceh setting up a network to document rights violations.

The New York-based monitoring group joined calls from other international organizations for the Indonesian government to step up efforts to find the missing activist.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in the past decade in the province, located on the northern tip of Sumatra island.

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Search for missing Aceh activist begins
The Jakarta Post August 9, 2000

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): Security authorities began searching on Tuesday for the chairman of the New York-based nongovernmental organization International Forum for Aceh (IFA), Jafar Sidik Hamzah.

He was reported missing in the North Sumatra capital Medan on Saturday and it is feared he has been abducted.

North Sumatra Police chief Brig. Gen. Sutanto said in Medan on Tuesday that his personnel had been assigned to distribute copies of Jafar's photo and began collecting leads on his whereabouts.

"Previous information has revealed that Jafar was on a visit to a palm- oil plantation belonging to PT Parasawita on Jl. Ahmad Yani in Medan just before he disappeared," Sutanto said as quoted by Antara.

The company is said to be owned by a wealthy Acehnese.

The Indonesian Military (TNI) has denied any involvement in the case.

"We have never committed any abductions, eliminations or any kind of military intelligence operations to 'remove' certain people, including the missing IFA activist," said Maj. Gen. I Gede Purnawa, chief of the Bukit Barisan Military Command overseeing Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra and Riau.

"We are fully committed to the government's political decisions on Aceh and I guarantee that none of my men are involved in disrupting the humanitarian pause in Aceh," Purnawa said in Medan on Tuesday, referring to the recent truce signed between the government and Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist leaders.

In Banda Aceh, Alamsyah Hamdani, a lawyer and a close associate of Jafar, said in a statement on Tuesday that the United States Consulate in Medan as well as the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in Jakarta had been told of Jafar's disappearance.

"We strongly fear that he has been kidnapped," Alamsyah said.

Jafar's relatives said they last heard from him on Saturday.

"He usually calls every two hours but we haven't heard from him since (Saturday). We're really worried as he always used to tell us where he was," one of Jafar's relatives, who asked for anonymity, said on Monday.

Jafar was in Banda Aceh on July 22 to attend a human rights seminar and had visited relatives in Aceh and Medan before his disappearance.

He reportedly returned to Aceh about three weeks ago to set up an office of the Support Committee for Human Rights for Aceh (SCHRA).

Chief of Aceh's Forum Peduli HAM (Aceh's Human Rights Concern Forum) Syaifuddin Bantasyam expressed concern over the incident on Tuesday and hoped for Jafar's safe return.

"Personally, I think Medan is no longer a safe city for activists or outspoken figures, especially those defending the rights of Acehnese," Syaifuddin said.

Syaifuddin said that several fatal incidents had taken place in Medan this year, such as the unsolved murder of Tengku Nashiruddin Daud, who was a House of Representatives (DPR) member and a member of a special committee for Aceh, in late January.

GAM spokesman Ismail Syahputra also reportedly went missing in Medan a couple of months ago and has not been seen since.

Jafar, 36, is a native of Lhokseumawe in North Aceh, and a naturalized American citizen. He has been a vocal campaigner against the human rights abuses committed by the military during its 10 years of military operations in Aceh.

The government scrapped its military operations in Aceh in 1998.

Meanwhile, two policemen were killed on Monday in continuing violence in Aceh.

The murders came only a day after the government and GAM negotiators in Geneva said that they were "strongly inclined" to extend the humanitarian pause in the province, which is due to expire on Sept. 2.

The first victim, a member of the police elite Mobile Brigade named Second Sgt. Jon Sanova, was shot dead by two armed men on a motorbike in Banda Masen village on Monday in Lhokseumawe, North Aceh Police chief Supt. Abadan Bangko said.

Second Sgt. Muhammad Anan was killed after he was hit by a truck in front of the North Aceh Police station around 11 a.m. on Monday.

The incident brought the death toll in Aceh to 44 since the implementation of the humanitarian pause on June 2. (50/edt)

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Letter by Islamic Peace Forum

In the Name of God, All-Merciful and Loving-Kind ISLAMIC PEACE FORUM - MUNTADA S-SILM AL-ISLAMI

August 8th, 2000 
8 Jumada l’Ula, 1421

Dear Brig. General Sutanto, North Sumatra Chief of Police

The Islamic Peace Forum wishes to express its grave concern over the recent disappearance of Mr. JAFAR SIDDIQ — Chairman of the non-governmental organization International Forum for Aceh (IFA). Jafar was last seen alive on the afternoon of Saturday August 5th, 2000, in Medan (capital of the province of North Sumatra). Despite repeated attempts by family and friends to determine his whereabouts, nothing is known about Jafar's well-being.

The Islamic Peace Forum, which promotes a truer understanding of Islamic models of peace and justice, keenly regrets this dark cloud over Jafar's safety and security. For many years he has worked tirelessly as a lawyer and a sincere Muslim 'man of conscience' to protect human rights and the rule of law in his home province of Aceh and throughout Indonesia. Jafar has become well-known in the United States, Europe, and S.E. Asia as one of the leading defenders of human dignity for Acehnese. True to the traditions of his people, Jafar displays courage and self-sacrifice in pursuing the higher good for his community. He has become a model for other Muslim activists committed to peaceful solutions to violence and bloodshed in Aceh, as well as to the democratic process of legality and accountability in Indonesia. By our personal knowledge of Jafar, he has long demonstrated a clear commitment to peaceful means and principles, and a rejection of violent solutions.

We earnestly pray that those in authority in Sumatra and Indonesia may provide all assistance and make sincere efforts to ensure his safe return to his family! All Muslims of faith and conscience should express their alarm and dismay over Jafar's disappearance. They may also pray for his safe return, and be certain of Allah's protection and guidance promised those who strive in the Way of Allah.


Dr. Karim D. Crow 
Coordinator - Islamic Peace Forum 
PO Box 39127, Friendship Station,
Washington D.C. 20016 USA 
202 - 244 0951, 
Fax 202 - 244 6396

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AFP: US-based Acehnese rights activist missing in Sumatra

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, August 8 (AFP) - A US-based Acehnese human rights campaigner has gone missing and is feared abducted in the Indonesian city of Medan, his relatives said Tuesday.

Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, who heads the New York-based International Forum for Aceh (IFA) was reported missing after an appointment in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, on Saturday, according to Hamzah's younger brother Jamaluddin.

"Normally brother Jafar calls the family every two hours to inform us of his whereabouts," Jamaluddin told AFP Tuesday.

"But after he finished meeting his friend at around 1:00 a.m. (1800 GMT) on Saturday, we have not heard from him."

"Our relatives in Medan have tried to look for him but we have not been able to find him. We are now really worried," he added.

His disappearance had been reported to police, as well as to the US consulate in Medan, Jamaluddin said.

Hamzah, a native of Lhokseumawe in North Aceh, is a naturalized American citizen and a strong campaigner in seeking redress for massive human rights abuses during 10 years of military operations to quash the Free Aceh separatist rebel movement.

He returned to Aceh some two weeks ago to set up the Support Committee of Human Rights for Aceh (SCHRA) here, Jamaluddin said, adding that his brother had planned to stay in Aceh for one year.

Jamaluddin said he did not want to speculate as to who might have kidnapped Hamzah, but pleaded with any captors to release his brother.

"What wrong has he done? (What) can cause his disappearance because his purpose of visiting Medan was only to meet old friends," Jamaluddin said.

Syarifuddin Bantasyam, the director of Forum of Human Rights Carehere, told AFP that Hamzah could have been kidnapped because of his vocal "international-level campaign" on killings and torture in Aceh.

The GAM has been fighting for an independent Islamic Aceh state since 1976 and more than 5,000 people have been killed in fighting over the last decade.

Pro-independence sentiment has grown in the region following human rights violations by soldiers and officials in the past decade.

The syphoning-off of Aceh's natural resources by the central government has also fuelled resentment against Jakarta.

A three-month truce, dubbed a "humanitarian pause" and designed to stem the violence in the staunchly Muslim province, has reduced, but not stopped, the violence.

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The following is the text of a letter sent to the North Sumatra chief of police by Asmara Nababan, secretary-general of the National Human Rights Commission, Komnas HAM:

Jakarta, 8 Agustus 2000 Nomor : 3.852/SES/VIII/2000

The National Human Rights Commission has received a complaint dated 8 August from Syarifuddin Hamzah, SE. and colleagues, on behalf of the family of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, chairperson of the International Forum for Aceh (IFA) regarding the disappearance of the said person. The complaint states that Jafar Siddiq Hamzah left home on 5 August saying that he would be returning home at 4pm to prepare for a meeting with a guest from Japan. Apart from that, Jafar S. Hamzah was in the habit of phoning his family every two hours throughout the day.

However, up to the time the complaint was sent on 8 August, Jafar S. Hamzah has not returned home and has sent no news at all to the family.

When a report of the disappearance was made to the North Sumatran police force, it was rejected on the grounds that there was no evidence that Jafar S. Hamzah had disappeared. This response has been the cause of deep distress for the complainants because their right to receive justice and a sense of security has been ignored.

In this connection, we call your attention to the need to investigate the facts in accordance with the laws in force. The right of complainants to receive justice under the law and to be assured of a sense of security is affirmed in Articles 17 and 30 of Law No 39, 1999 on Human Rights.

We await your response and thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Copies to: 1. Chairman, Komnas HAM (sebagai laporan) 2. Commander of TNI in Jakarta 3. National chief of police in Jakarta 4. Minister of Defence in Jakarta 5. Sdr. Syarifuddin Hamzah, SE., and colleagues, d/a LBH Medan 6. Archives

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The following are extracts from a very long news report in Tuesday's issue of Serambi Indonesia:

The family of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, chairman of the New York based International Forum for Aceh who has been missing since Saturday, are extremely worried about him and have reported the matter to the North Sumatra chief of police and the US consulate in Medan. A member of his faimly who asked not to be identified told Serambi they were afraid that he had been kidnapped by irresponsible elements.

'He usually phoned his family in Medan every two hours to tell them where he was, but after a meeting with a friend that ended at 1pm on Saturday, nothing more has been heard from him.'

Jafar has been living in New York and returned to Aceh about two weeks ago to set up an office in Banda Aceh of SCHRA, the Support Committee on Human Rights in Aceh. He was planning to stay in Aceh for a year.

Jafar left Banda Aceh for Medan on 27 July together with Adam Juli and his daughter. On 28 July, they stayed with relatives in Lhokseumawe and on 28 July, the three of them left by road for Medan. Since arriving in Medan a week ago, Jafar has visited a number of friends; he obtained his law degree at a university in Medan and practised as a lawyer there for a while.

On Saturday 5 August, at 11.20am, he phoned his brother to ask for the number of an account and at 1 pm, a friend phoned Jafar's relatives to say that Jafar had just left his office. 'Since then, there has been no news of him,' said a member of his family.

He said he had no idea who might have kidnapped Jafar but called on whoever they were to release him immediately.

Reported to US Consulate Alamsyah Hamdani, a close friend of Jafar's in Medan, who now works for Lembaga Antiras (Laras) said he has reported the disappearance to the US consulate, because Jafar has permanent residence status in the US. He also told Serambi he has reported the disappearance to the North Sumatra chief of police who promised to carry out an investigation into the disappearance. Jafar previously worked together with Alamsyah for the LBH-Medan.

The chief of police, Brig General Sutanto, said that his friends should first checked the reported disappearance thoroughly and if it seemed that such a disappearance had indeed taken plce, the police would do whatever they could to help.

Alamsyah also said he met Jafar on Saturday morning and when they parted, Jafar said he was going to meet a journalist for an interview. Unfortunately, he did not give the name of the journalist or the newspaper nor say where they were going to meet.

Director of LBH-Medan, Irham Buana Nasution, told Serambi that Jafar's family had asked their assistance in finding his whereabouts. Irham said he felt sure that Jafar's disappearance was connected with his initiative in setting up SCHRA, the Support Committee for Human Rights in Aceh because he has been actively pursuing the issue of human rights violations in Aceh.

The chairman of IFA which was set up in New York three years ago has campaigned vigorously about human rights violations in Aceh. He is halfway through a masters degree at a university in New York. he has also been a stern critic of the Indonesian government with regard to the situation in Aceh. IFA has worked closely with Amnesty International and with TAPOL, which both have their head offices in London. It also works closely with Human Rights Watch in New York and with a number of human rights NGOs in Asia.

Pressure on FP-HAM In a press release on Monday, the Forum of Concern for Human Rights said they had received email messages from Nastuko of Ninja-Japan, Carmel Budiardjo of TAPOL and Radhi Darmansyah of FARMIDIA asking about reports that Jafar has disappeared.

FP-HAM Director Saifuddin Bantasyam has called on the authorities in Medan. especially the police, to take immediate measures to find the missing man. 'I earnestly hope the police chief will give a clarification about the case as quickly as possible,' he said.

The matter was one of greatest urgency, bearing in mind that the murder of Tgk Nashiruddin Daud, the Acehnese member of the Indonesian Parliament some months ago, has still not been solved. If mystery continues to surround the disappearance of Jafar this will have a very damaging effect on Medan's reputation in the eyes of the international community,' said Saifuddin.[Nashiruddin MP disappeared while in Medan on his way back to Jakarta from Aceh. He was a member of the Independent Investigation Committe on Human Rights Violations in Aceh. TAPOL]

Saifuddin would not speculate on the reasons for Jafar's disappearance. 'It is likely to be connected with his efforts to urge the international community to resolve the human rights situation in Aceh, but it could also be for other reasons,' he said. Jafar has devoted his efforts to exposing the human rights that occurred during and after DOM, the time when Aceh was a military operational zone.

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Acehnese activist disappears in Medan 
7 Aug 2000 16:5:27 WIB

TEMPO Interaktif, Lhokseumawe: An Acehnese activist who heads the Internasional Forum for Aceh (IFA) based in New York, has disappeared since Saturday (5/8). He has been in Medan for some days and has failed to make contact with his family there for the past two days.

Drs. Jafar Siddik Hamzah's mother. Cut Aroen has said that her son disappeared in Medan. She said he had spent two days in Lhokseumawe before going to Medan where he is planning to live. She could not say what exactly he would be doing in Medan. 'It's probably to do with his work for IFA,' she said.

His sister Cut Zahara, who is herself an activist has gone to Medan to try to discover his whereabouts. The family fears that he may have been kidnapped by persons who are unhappy with his activities. 'A week last Friday, he took leave saying he was going to Medan and would be living there for a while,' said his mother. She hoped that friends would do what they can to find her son.

Through the IFA in New York, Jafar has worked to inform the international community about human rights violations in Aceh. He has helped to organise several seminars and dialogues involving NGOs. He has also been active in raising the issue of human rights violations at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva (Zainal Bakri)

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