Mon, 10 Apr 2000

Police gear up for Aceh congress, trial

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): Security authorities are gearing up for the Aceh People's Congress (KRA) and the joint civilian-military tribunal here this month, despite rejection from certain parties to their presence.

Aceh Police chief Brig. Gen. Bachrumsyah Kasman said that taking precautions are necessary as there have been frequent outbreaks of violence in the relatively calm Banda Aceh, as well as neighboring Aceh Besar regency, in anticipation of the week- long congress slated to begin April 22.

Police are also prepared to maintain peace and order during the join military-civilian tribunal on April 17, he said.

"There are four groups which belonging to what we call the unidentified armed-rioters gang (GBPK). They are made up of Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist rebels, ex-cons, provocateurs and officers who have deserted from either the Indonesian military (TNI) or the police force.

"They are the ones who changed Aceh into this mess. They instigate riots everywhere. It's a shame that Acehnese have been kicked around by these criminals," Bachrumsyah said after a meeting with local legislators to discuss the province's security on Friday.

Bachrumsyah said the security forces had no choice but to secure the two important events, which many felt could help forge peace in the strife-torn province.

"We cannot afford the possibility of those gangs disrupting the people's efforts," he said.

Teuku Umar Military chief Col. Syarifuddin Tippe also vowed to provide security, whether it is asked for by the congress event organizer or not.

"We specifically demand KRA participants not to carry any weapons. Everybody must come clean to the session," Syarifuddin said on Saturday.

KRA event organizer chief Tengku Syamaun Risyad repeated his rejection on security deployment, saying that "the security presence will only lead to riots".

Hundreds of Thaliban vigilantes and students were already set to guard the congress, he said.

In an effort to more quickly find solutions to the problems in Aceh, provincial legislators recommended on Friday for President Abdurrahman Wahid to hold talks with ousted GAM leader Hasan Tiro in Sweden.

"We hope Abdurrahman makes the visit, to open the possibility for reconciliation in Aceh conflicts," Zulkifli, a councilor of TNI/Polri faction, said.

Zulkifli said solving any Aceh conflict was unlikely if GAM armed wing commanders refused to negotiate.

"They said it is Wali Negara (Hasan Tiro) who has the authority to hold talks. How will the armed clash be stopped if the leader does not call it off?" he asked.

Separately, in the restive Pidie regency, an alleged rebel identified as Sulaiman, 30, was shot dead by troops near a mosque at Nien Village in Simpang Tiga district on Saturday evening.

Unidentified armed gangs also threw grenades into an army barracks in Hagu village of Lhokseumawe, the capital of giant industrial regency of North Aceh, also on Saturday night.

No casualties were reported in the fray, local police chief Lt. Col. Syafei Aksal said on Sunday. (50/51/edt)