Wed, 22 Jan 2003

JSC gives details of Aceh peace zones

Nani Farida, The Jakarta Post, Banda Aceh

The Joint Security Committee (JSC) has designated Indrapuri district in Aceh Besar as the first peace zone and agreed on a set of criteria applicable to the Indonesian military (TNI) and Free Aceh Movement (GAM) when entering designated peace zones.

The committee agreed on Sunday on the details of how the warring sides should conduct themselves within the peace zones, the JSC said in a statement on Monday evening.

Sunday's agreement on the peace zones applies to members of GAM, the TNI, and the police force.

Following the designation of peace zones, which according to the Dec. 9 peace agreement will officially enter into effect on Feb. 9, 2003, GAM will start placing their weapons in designated stores.

GAM and the TNI will also move into defensive positions. This requires them to refrain from any operations or movements that could lead to armed contact between the two sides.

Among the criteria the JSC agreed on was that only troops who were already stationed within the peace zones could enter peace zones.

Neither the TNI nor GAM, however, may carry their weapons outside their respective posts or bases located inside peace zones.

Unarmed troops may move freely within the zones, while armed troops may enter the zones but may not show their weapons publicly.

Both sides may enter demilitarized zones like schools, health institutions or other public places like bazaars, marketplaces, foodstalls and bus terminals.

The JSC, whose members consist of representatives from the Indonesian government, GAM, and international observers representing the Swiss-based non-governmental organization, the Henry Dunant Centre (HDC), also agreed to ban political activities by either side within the zones, fearing they could incite violence.

The zones are part of the Dec. 9 peace agreement to end more than two decades of separatist war in Aceh that has claimed more than 10,000 lives, mostly innocent civilians.

The peace zones will become the focus of the JSC's work to establish and maintain security. Initial humanitarian and rehabilitation efforts will concentrate on these areas as well.

Violence, however, continued to rock the restive province, more than a month after the peace accord was signed.

Villagers found three male bodies on Tuesday buried inside a oil palm plantation near Blang Kolam village, Kuta district, about 20 kilometers from Lhokseumawe in North Aceh.

The bodies were identified as M. Kasem (41), Fauzan (25), and Abubakar (28). Locals said that Indonesian soldiers arrested the three men two days after the signing of the peace accord.

Members of the JSC's monitoring team witnessed the removal of the bodies.

The GAM spokesman in Pase, Teungku Jamaika, said that the victims were members of the GAM police and were captured by the military on Dec. 7 last year.

A TNI spokesman in Aceh, Maj. Eddy Fernandy, confirmed that the victims were members of GAM but denied the TNI had killed them. "That's just a way of cornering the TNI," he said.

Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhyono warned on Monday that the government would withdraw from the agreement if GAM was unable to stop the violence.

His statement followed last week's shooting of Chief Pvt. Hadi by a group of unidentified people in Kruen Teunom village, Lammo district, West Aceh.

GAM spokesman Sofyan Dawood denounced Susilo's statement as an attempt to terrorize the people of Aceh.

"Such statements are designed to cause terror among the people of Aceh who have just started out on a peaceful period. We hope there are no more such terror attempts," he said in a statement on Tuesday.