International Human Rights NGO Delegation visited Aceh

Jakarta, 28 September 2000

Press Release International Human Rights NGO Delegation

Jafar Siddiq

Jafar Siddiq

“With the recent killings of respected Acehnese figures such as Jaffar Siddiq and Prof. Safwan Idris non-partisan elements of society including human rights and humanitarian workers are increasingly afraid and unable to continue their work,” reports Dr. Karim Grow, Director of the Islamic Peace Forum in Kuala Lumpur. Crow took part in an ad hoc International Human Rights NGO Delegation that visited Aceh last week.

An ongoing polarization process due to the violent conflict leaves little space for civil society. “It’s simply impossible to stay neutral in Aceh, everybody is being made dependant on either one or the other of the conflicting parties,” a human right activist told the delegation in Banda Aceh. Under these circumstances human rights organizations, humanitarian workers and thousands of IDP’s face enormous difficulties in not getting involved in the conflict themselves.

The Humanitarian Pause that commenced on June 2, 2000, failed to improve the safety of human right workers. Two international aid organizations had to end their work in Aceh since they couldn’t guarantee their staff’s safety. However, the Humanitarian Pause is a positive measure in a context where few other alternatives are available.

“We are delighted to hear that the Humanitarian Pause has been extended, because it is an essential first step towards a just and peaceful solution in Aceh. However we observed the deep disappointment of the Acehnese people in the Humanitarian Pause, because it has not improved their safety. The aim to promote humanitarian assistance has not been reached in part because of the shocking lack of international financial support,” delegation member Michael Beer, director of Nonviolence International (USA), said.

“The worsening situation in Aceh is caused by the frequent non-implementation of legal procedures and the lack of professionalism of the police in handling human rights cases. The perpetrators of violent acts have not been stopped and the number of victims of violations of the law and human rights is increasing. To prevent more people from becoming victimized, especially within the civil society, the police must work according to legal procedures and instruments. For Jafar Siddiq’s case, the police have to work sincerely and diligently because this case of a humanitarian worker has attracted international attention and the outcome of it can be used as an indicator of the success of the police in tackling crime in this country,” said A.H. Semendawai, S.H., the Coordinator of Legal Service Department of ELSAM.

“I’m convinced that there is no stronger aspiration of the people in Aceh than to have a decent life in peace and justice,” said Alex Flor from Watch Indonesia! (Germany).

In conclusion, the members of the International Human Rights NGOs delegation recommend:

  • The government of Indonesia guarantee the security and safety of humanitarian workers;
  • The government of Indonesia allow international organizations to provide humanitarian support;
  • The police of the Republic of Indonesia follow legal procedures and respect the supremacy of the law in handling human rights cases in Aceh;
  • Human rights NGOs, humanitarian workers and IDPs maintain their neutrality in the conflict;
  • For the international community to provide humanitarian and economic assistance to the Acehnese people during the Humanitarian Pause so that the suffering of the Acehnese people due to the sustained economic crisis is relieved.

The delegation comprised of human rights representatives from organizations in four countries, visited Aceh from September 19 through September 26, 2000. The delegation included Dr. Karim Crow, Director of the Islamic Peace Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Michael Beer, Director Nonviolence International (USA), Alex Flor, Watch Indonesia! (Germany), A.H. Semendawai, S.H., Coordinator Legal Service Department ELSAM. Its mission was first to offer condolences to the family and friends of our dear friend and colleague, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah. The delegation assessed the current situation and raised the issue of human rights violations against the Acehnese. It strove to draw greater international attention to the need for thorough and transparent investigations into Jafar’s murder, and the murders of the four whose bodies were found with his on September 3, as well as the hundreds of others disappeared and killed over the past year in Aceh. We hope in this small way to honor the memory of Jafar and to take a step closer to realizing justice for Aceh.

For further information, please contact:

Ifdhal Kasim, SH Executive Director of ELSAM Telp. 021-7972662, 79192564
AH Semendawai, SH Coordinator of legal service department of ELSAM Telp. 021-7972662, 79192564

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