Wed, 02 Aug 2000

Government and GAM to hold consultation dialog

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian government and Free Aceh Movement (GAM) will hold a consultation dialog on Saturday in Geneva, Switzerland, to evaluate the implementation of the humanitarian pause in the troubled province.

Speaking to journalists after a coordination meeting for political affairs and security on Tuesday, State Minister of Human Rights Affairs Hasballah M. Saad described the meeting as a regular joint forum to evaluate the pause and the latest developments on the ground.

Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security Spokesman Brig. Gen. I Wayan Karya said the humanitarian pause would officially end on Sept. 2, and that a full evaluation would be conducted on Aug. 15.

"We expect to prolong the pause for another three months," I Wayan said.

Meanwhile, in Banda Aceh, activists gave mixed reaction to whether the humanitarian pause should be extended.

"The pause is useless because there is no significant legal sanction on violators," the Center for Information on a Referendum in Aceh (SIRA) coordinator, Muhammad Nazar, said.

The upcoming meeting in Geneva would only be effective if both camps -- the Indonesian government and GAM -- were willing to impose clear sanctions instead of merely "moral consequences" toward any violators of the pause, he added.

At least 33 people have died since the enactment of the pause on June 2.

But Ahmad Humam Hamid, an activist who heads a humanitarian assistance team to the Aceh governor, said that if the humanitarian pause is not extended people in Aceh will suffer more, as one-third of the 4.2 million population is already being hit by a food crisis.

"If the pause ends, Acehnese will die not only from guns and violence, but from starvation," Humam, who is also a chairman of the Leuser National Park Foundation and lecturer at Syiah Kuala University, said. (50/edt/dja)