Fri, 15 Sep 2000

Govt must take real action

When reading statements from the President and ministers, especially about how rebellions are being handled in certain areas one cannot escape a feeling of satisfaction for the resoluteness shown in those statements. But after a few days, optimism dies down and doubts regain the upper hand.

The President has many times issued tough warnings, like arresting those rebels and stating that the government has no intention of compromising with law breakers. If those statements were followed by resolute actions, I am sure law and order would be restored and peace would prevail. And I am sure that our government can do that and Atambua is proof of that.

In the case of Atambua we see that the government is capable of making tough decisions and at the same time executing those decisions in a very short time. Why? Is it because it concerned lives of foreigners which are more valuable than Indonesian lives? I hope not.

Every day lives are lost in Aceh and other places, and yet no decisive action has been taken and instead a MOU was signed abroad, and not domestically, giving prestigious status to the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels, who misused this act to their advantage. GAM cleverly misused this internationally known humanitarian pause and continued their attacks disguised as "unknown gangs" and terrorized the population.

Only recently 11,000 people from Central Aceh and West Aceh regency abandoned their homes because the security situation was unbearable. These evacuations wee done because their homes were burned and people were shot. Three members of the police's Mobile Brigade were killed by grenades thrown by unknown people. These atrocities happened a few days ago and nothing has been done.

I cannot understand the underlying motive of the government's inaction, which only benefits GAM.

The other day I read in Suara Pembaruan a statement by the new Minister of Defense saying that the government has no intention to free Aceh or Papua and separate them from the unitary Republic of Indonesia.

The Minister of Defense is also of the opinion that the humanitarian pause is only to the advantage of the GAM, but for the Republic it is a loss. It is a pity that this tough statement comes from the Minister of Defense, who in the new set up has no say in domestic peace keeping efforts.

What we need are not statements, but actions, like the late Sukarno's government coping with the PRRI and PERMESTA rebellions, which were more serious, covered a larger area and had experienced military commanders. And on top of that, they had the support of the USA. Now the rebels are completely on their own and the international world has expressed its political support for an integrated republic. I wish our government had learned from history and acted accordingly.