Wed, 22 Nov 2000

Law expert urges for clear status on Aceh

SEMARANG, Central Java (JP): In an effort to end violence in Aceh, the government should give the strife-torn province an appropriate status, an international law expert said on Monday.

Yassin Tasrief of Semarang-based State Diponegoro University's School of Law said Aceh should be put under a civil emergency, military emergency or war emergency status.

"There's no clear status on the security condition in Aceh. It will only create more human rights violations in the area," Yassin Tasrief said while addressing a seminar on human rights here.

He added that the government needed to ratify the 1977 protocol on International and Non-International Armed Dispute and use it as the legal basis to declare a certain status on the ravaged province.

The protocol is an additional regulation in the 1949 Geneva Conventions regulating protection for soldiers, war prisoners and civilians.

"By ratifying the protocol, the government could declare Aceh under a war emergency status as the law stipulates that any security disturbance is classified as a noninternational armed rebellious movement.

" Any separatist movement in any country, attempting to break away from the country's sovereignty and threatening the country's unity, should be considered rebels," Yassin said.

"Under such a condition, the security force deployed in the area should be the military and not the police," he said, while citing that any country would make an effort to maintain its unity and protect its people from armed disputes.

In a related development, Aceh Besar Police detained the chairman of the Information Center for Aceh Referendum (SIRA) Moh. Nazar on Monday evening for allegedly creating public disorder, Aceh Besar Police precinct chief Supt. Sayed Hoesainy told reporters in Banda Aceh on Tuesday.

The arrest was made on the same day the activist met the police summons. Nazar has been accused of creating public disorder by displaying a banner calling Indonesia "Neo- Colonialist" during a protest on Aug. 17, 2000, Indonesia's Independence Day.

During the 10-hour questioning on Monday, Nazar was accompanied by his lawyer Johnson Panjaitan from the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) and several activists from the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations on Human Rights and SIRA.

"He has been named a suspect and his actions meet the requirements for the police to make an arrest," Sayed said.

He added that Nazar's detention order was valid for 20 days and it could be extended for another 40 days.

Johnson Panjaitan said he would seek to release Nazar as the police had yet to question any witnesses in their investigation.

He also said the police had detained his client using articles of the law which had always been used by the New Order regime to repress those with a different political stance.

Meanwhile, SIRA activist Muh. Taufik Abda told reporters on Tuesday that they had canceled the planned mass strike slated for Nov. 27 through Dec. 3 as it was not economically feasible for the Acehnese.

The strike was to be held if the seven resolutions passed during the Mass Gathering for Peace were ignored by the government.

He said the decision had been taken because economically the Acehnese were unable conduct such strikes.

SIRA is the organizer of the Mass Gathering for Peace (SIRA RAKAN) on Nov. 11 which was held to commemorate the first anniversary of the call for a referendum in the troubled province. The gathering had drawn tens of thousands of Acehnese to the capital Banda Aceh. (50/har/lup)