Mon, 26 May 2003

Acehnese people in Jakarta upset by ID raids, worry about safety

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Security raids currently being conducted by the police and Jakarta administration at the homes of Acehnese people in Jakarta have sparked worries among Acehnese about their safety.

Many feel they will mistaken for Free Aceh Movement (GAM) members by the authorities.

"Physically, we haven't had any trouble yet. But, we are depressed psychologically. We've fled from Aceh to escape the unsafe situation since the military operation began there," Budiman, an Acehnese who lives in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, was quoted as saying by Antara over the weekend.

Many Acehnese people, Budiman said, were still traumatized after being mistaken for GAM and apprehended by the military, especially when Aceh was declared a Military Operation Zone (DOM) from 1989 to late 1998.

"Such bad experiences are still vivid in our memory. That's why we are so depressed with the raids made by the city administration at our homes," said Budiman.

Budiman said many Acehnese people left Aceh mainly due to security concerns.

He recommended that if the administration were willing to re- register the Acehnese people in the city, such a registration would be more "humane", for instance by involving the Acehnese groups here like "Taman Iskandar Muda" with branches throughout the city.

Similar comments were made by Achmad Ba'id, also from Aceh, who resides in Ciputat, South Jakarta.

"Please be more humane during the raids by not using military or police personnel ... to reduce psychological stress on the Acehnese people who are still suffering trauma from all the violence and war in Aceh," Ba'id said.

Ba'id tried to remind the government that the Acehnese people here were also Indonesian citizens who had the right to safety and protection from the government.

Observers have earlier criticized the city administration and the police for the policy, which could result in human rights violations.

Separately, Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso said over the weekend that the police had intensified monitoring of 18 areas in Jakarta, particularly those inhabited mostly by Acehnese people.

Sutiyoso said he had received warnings from the police about possible terror attacks or sabotage in the capital which might be launched by GAM as a response to the war in Aceh.

"I don't want this (such attack) taking place in the capital as it could disturb the national security in general," said Sutiyoso.

Asked whether the raids and surveillance would upset Acehnese people, Sutiyoso remarked, "It's up to you (media pundits) to have such opinions ... but if something bad happens, it is us who bear the blame, not the Acehnese. Anyway, we protect Acehnese people here," Sutiyoso explained.

Earlier on Friday, City Police chief Insp. Gen. Makbul Padmanagara said police would back the administration's policy to intensify the registration of Acehnese and to prevent an infiltration by GAM members intent on spreading terror in the city.

"It is an administration regulation that everyone who receives guests from out of town (more than a day) must report to the community unit chief or neighborhood unit chief. We are only enforcing that," said Makbul.