Rights and Democracy

Rights and Democracy

January 06, 2005 10:18 ET

Canadian Coalition Demands Demilitarization of Aid in Aceh, as Indonesian Military Threatens to Continue Attacks


NEWS RELEASE TRANSMITTED BY CCNMatthews

FOR: RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY

JANUARY 6, 2005 - 10:18 ET

Canadian Coalition Demands Demilitarization of Aid in
Aceh, as Indonesian Military Threatens to Continue
Attacks

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 6, 2005) - A coalition of major
Canadian civil society and aid organizations is demanding that the
Indonesian government immediately cease all non-aid related military
operations in Aceh in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster. The
organizations condemn the Indonesian military's failure to adhere to a
ceasefire in Aceh province and its role in hindering the delivery of
emergency aid.

The coalition includes Rights and Democracy, Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical
Justice Initiatives, Alternatives and other groups working on human
rights and development issues in Indonesia. The demand came on the eve
of today's major summit in Jakarta where senior government officials of
donor and tsunami affected countries are discussing relief efforts.
In a letter sent yesterday to the federal ministers responsible for
Canada's response to the tsunami disaster, the coalition asserts that
the Indonesian army's leading role in delivering aid is compromising the
welfare of the Acehnese people.
"It is completely unacceptable that the military is engaged in launching
attacks against the civilian population and delivering relief aid at the
same time," says Nancy Slamet, Coordinator of KAIROS' International
Human Rights Program in Asia.

Despite assurances by Indonesian military chief General Endriartono
Sutarto of a ceasefire in Aceh province, the military headquarters
general information department has announced the army will continue to
launch raids into suspected rebel areas as part of its on-going
"security" operations.

"This prevents many tsunami victims from receiving help because they are
afraid of being suspected as separatists," says Alex Hill, Indonesia
Program Officer for Alternatives. "Moreover, the Indonesian military
fears allowing international aid organizations and journalists free
access to the region because they've been engaged in a dirty war there
for many years".

Until the tsunami disaster, Indonesia prohibited international
journalists and aid organizations from having any access to Aceh since
May 2003 and persecuted local civil society groups. As a result, the
region has virtually no civil infrastructure to respond to the current
crisis.



The coalition is also calling on the Canadian government to:

- press Indonesian authorities to allow unrestricted access to the
entire province by international and Indonesian civil society
organizations and journalists;
- deliver all Canadian government aid as directly as possible to the
affected population using effective mechanisms, with a priority to
civil society organizations; and
- demand the demilitarization of Aceh, under a negotiated peace
agreement.


The coalition also includes the Canadian Catholic Organization for
Development and Peace; Pacific People's Partnership; Canadians Concerned
About Ethnic Violence in Indonesia (CCEVI); West Papua Action Network
(WESPAN); Canadian Action for Indonesia and East Timor; Green Lotus
International and Mining Watch Canada.

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