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Note: The painting of Ambassador Andrew Young. The painting is now hung at the main lobby of Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta
 

PRESS RELEASE

Driving the World Away and Making GAM Look Bad

 

Injured Hong Kong aid worker Eva Yeung receives flowers upon her arrival at a hospital in Hong Kong June 28, 2005. Yeung, a relief delegate for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, was shot in the neck on June 22 while travelling, in Acheh, by car at night. Yeung left a Singapore hospital and flew back to Hong Kong.

by Muzakkir Manaf
Commander-in-Chief

ACHEH-SUMATRA NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT

 

June 26, 2005  The armed forces of GAM - TNA - demands a full and immediate impartial investigation of the shooting near Lamno Wednesday night of a Red Cross worker from Hong Kong.

ndonesia has already blamed us for the incident. But according to reports from my commanders in the area, none of our fighters were within 15 km of the incident. There was also no armed clash, as Indonesia claims. However, Indonesian troops do patrol the area day and night.

As GAM's spokesman explained in an earlier statement, we Achenese have no motivation to shoot foreigners. Indonesia does.

Since the tsunami, the Indonesian government and military have tried to push the international community out of the province, while holding on to the money. Indonesia does not want foreigners poking around the politics of the place or finding out who is responsible for the steady toll of tortured, murdered Achenese civilians.

More from NY Times, HRW, Wash.Post, Guardian, BBC and CNN

  Poorest get worst deal in tsunami aid handout  
  After the tsunami  
  Six months after tsunami, Acheh rebuilds slowly  
  Seven killed in Acheh violence  
  Uneven odds  
  It's mind-boggling complex  
  The woman who lost everything  
  Tsunami leaves a world of drifting 'ghosts'  
  After the tsunami, rebuilding homes and social fabric  
  Indonesian atrocities  
  Indonesia's secrete war, editorial  
  Refugees reveal widespread abuses  
  Indonesia secrete war, cont'd  

For years, Indonesia has sought to restrict foreign visitors, whether journalists, peace monitors, human rights groups or anyone else.

Two years ago, Indonesian soldiers shot to death a German bicycle tourist as he bedded down in his tent on the beach. They jailed for four months a nosy Scottish academic and a nurse from Iowa who treated victims of Indonesian beatings. They kicked out a Japanese, a Korean and several other photographers who tried to take photographs in the non-tsunami struck areas.

During martial and civil emergency rule, Indonesia denied entry to dozens of foreign journalist. They refused to renew the visa of a highly respected Jakarta-based Australian journalist who accurately reported that an Indonesian soldier poured boiling water on an Achenese baby. They hunted, nearly killed and then jailed the only foreign journalist brave enough to report from the front lines of the war.

For years, we Achenese and foreign human rights groups have called for an international investigation into the grave human rights abuses committed in our troubled homeland. Despite a succession of Indonesian presidents promising to shed no more Achenese blood, pull the troops out and put people responsible on trial, nothing has changed. And the world was kept out.

Sadly, it has taken the tsunami to bring the world here. We Achenese want the world to stay.

The shooting of a foreign relief worker would seem to serve a dual purpose: driving the world away and making GAM look bad. A prompt and proper investigation will establish the real facts, not Indonesia's wishful fictions.

 

Prior statement (June 05, 2005)

Fearing the Presence of Foreign NGOs

he recent statement in Singapore by the TNI chief General Endriartono Sutarto does a grave and dangerous disservice to Achenese and Indonesians alike.

General Endriartono falsely asserts that parts of GAM's military force are against the current peace talks and that, in any case, GAM doesn't represent the overwhelming majority of the Achenese people. What he is really saying is the following: 'If GAM can't make the agreement work among its own forces and among Achenese, why are we bothering with these stupid talks. Let's keep fighting.'

The irony of Endriartono's remarks and the danger they represent is profound. Endriartono is in fact holding a mirror up to his side of the equation. His accusation applies not to GAM but to his colleagues in the Indonesian military. His military's creation of armed militia and the massacre of thousands in East Timor in 1999 should warn us all of what could happen.

If any armed group is going to stop the agreement from working in the field or at the table, it will be the Indonesian military.

As negotiators in Helsinki draw closer to a just settlement between Acheneseand Indonesian sides of this long conflict, powerful elements of the Indonesian military grow increasingly desperate. These men become a danger to the cause of a just peace in Acheh. They become threat to the extraordinary work of the Finnish mediators and to the recent involvement of the European Union.

Let's be clear: The general's comments are simply a new sly tactic to undermine the enormous progress made in finding a new and sustainable accommodation between Indonesia and Acheh after his attempts to factionalize GAM's armed forces (TNA) in Acheh by bribing has failed. TNA is a united armed forces and stand firmly behind its civil government in exile. Thus far the Indonesian military has been unable to derail our unity and to stem the tide of peace.

Endriartono's remarks raise the fundamental difference between Indonesia's army of occupation and Acheh's army of national liberation, the armed forces of GAM (TNA).

When Indonesian soldiers come to a village, fear fills the eyes of an Achenese family. The Indonesians soldiers come to kill, torture and rape, as they did in East Timor and still do in West Papua and other provinces. Balinese, Bugis, Javanese or any of the other peoples of the archipelago share this fear of Indonesia's 'defense forces.' Ordinary Indonesians are potential allies of the Achenese struggle for justice and freedom.

GAM comes from the Achenese people and fights for the Achenese people. Anyone who has seen the faces of an Achenese family as a company of GAM fighters arrives knows the difference. For the Achenese liberation army, there are real smiles, not pretend ones. Whether figuratively or literally, they are greeting sons, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunties; it is a reunion, a time to celebrate survival against the odds.

And so are the thousands of emergency workers who have now been to Acheh. That is of course the answer to the question: Why does the Indonesian military fear the presence of foreign NGOs? Why do they want the aid but not the actual presence of thinking human beings? Answer: Because they know these well-intentioned people will leave Acheh with an understanding of how the Achenese feel about the Indonesian military.

It's become a truism: the Indonesian military has its own economic, political, military and psychological interests in mind - and not those of the Achenese or even their fellow Indonesians. From the natural gas tanks to skinny chickens running around a poor farmer's shack, Acheh is a source of income, a place to loot. The tsunami, the military hopes, is a godsend for them. The foreign aid, a new source of loot. A peace agreement might deny them that loot, leaving it to those Achenese who have lost so much.

Politically, a just settlement in Acheh would challenge the military's claim to be the glue that holds Indonesia together. A just settlement would mean reform in Indonesia has made headway. Militarily, such a settlement shows the failure of the military's monthly claim: "Oh, just wait and see, in six months, we'll have fixed those GAM bandits once and for all.' How dumb and forgetful do they think the world is!

A just settlement will bring a fair and objective accounting of what the military has done to our people. A just settlement will let the tortured and tattered and even the dead speak the truth for the world to know!

Give us justice and give us peace!

For more information on this report, please contact Free Acheh Movement: Tel: +46 (0) 8 531 83833, +46 (0) 8 531 91275, +46 (0) 70 699 3982. C/O BOX 130, 145 01 Norsborg, Sweden. Spokesman, Sofyan Dawod, Email: tna.spokesman@gmail.com

 

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