Tue, 21 Nov 2000

No freedom for Aceh, Irian Jaya: Susilo

JAKARTA (JP): The unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia is final, so there is no opportunity for Aceh and Irian Jaya to become independent, Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Monday.

Responding to journalists' questions of a plan by certain parties' to declare Irian Jaya and Aceh independent on Dec. 1 and Dec. 4 respectively, Yudhoyono said a meeting on the issue would be held on Tuesday night.

He made the statements after a Cabinet meeting presided over by Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri at Bina Graha presidential office.

He also said he had reported the plan of the meeting to President Abdurrahman Wahid.

"There will be no possibilities for them (Aceh and Irian Jaya) to become independent and separate from Indonesia. The unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia is final," Antara quoted him as saying.

Pressure from separatist groups in Aceh and Irian Jaya have grown stronger from time to time.

Efforts to seek international support have been made by the Acehnese and Irianese who are campaigning for independence.

The government has made several efforts to curb the Free Aceh Movement (GAM)'s rebellious actions. Humanitarian pauses have been agreed by the government and GAM, however, violence has continued.

Separately, researcher of the National Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Dewi Fortuna Anwar said the government could grant amnesty to the Acehnese (rebels) if a political approach failed to stop the demand for independence.

"The government could set certain terms for the Acehnese to surrender and they would be forgiven," Dewi said.

If the response was weak, the government has the right to protect itself from these groups by conducting military operations, Dewi said.

In the era of former president Soekarno, a rebellion of the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia (PRRI- Permesta), which declared its independence in 1958, also received amnesty, Dewi said.

Latest tension

Tension has been escalating in Indrapuri district, Aceh Besar regency, since Sunday.

The worry that clashes between GAM and security forces will erupt in the area has forced more people to seek refuge at the Chik Di Tiro building and Provincial Council compound in Banda Aceh, an activist said on Monday.

Syamsul Bahri, an activist for the refugee board, said more people left their homes following the security officers' search for members of GAM.

He said 10,300 people from 21 villages in Indrapuri district had flooded the refugee camps since Sunday.

"We have received reports that security officers had stormed and fired sporadic shots at residents' homes, too," he said.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Information Center for Aceh Referendum (SIRA) Moh. Nazar, went to the Aceh Besar Police station to answer a police summons on Monday.

He is accused of creating public disorder by urging SIRA supporters to wave banners calling Indonesia a new colonialist, during the commemoration of Indonesia's Independence Day on Aug. 17.

Nazar was accompanied by his lawyers Johnson Panjaitan from the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) with several representatives of the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations on Human Rights and SIRA.

Separately, two members of the Jakarta chapter of the National Commission on Human Rights, Albert Hasibuan and Muhammad Salim, accompanied by an activist of the commission's Aceh office, Iqbal Farabi, arrived in Banda Aceh on Monday to gather information about the violence prior to the Mass Gathering for Peace on Nov. 11.

During their trip to Bandar Dua district in Pidie regency, some 170 kilometers east of Banda Aceh, the bus carrying the activists was attacked by unidentified men, but no injuries were reported. (02/50/lup/sur)