Mon, 09 Oct 2000

State of civil emergency sought for Aceh regencies

JAKARTA (JP): Three large factions in the House of Representatives urged a state of civil emergency be imposed in three regencies in the restive province of Aceh, a move they said would help restore security and order.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction said on Saturday the trouble in Aceh was escalating, especially in the regencies of North Aceh, Pidie and East Aceh.

"The tension will mount unless a state of civilian emergency is imposed and security personnel given a legal basis to act in restoring security and order in the region," Heri Achmadi, secretary of the faction, said.

He blamed the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) for the prolonged mayhem in the province.

"PDI-P will press the government to impose a state of civilian emergency," he said, referring to a planned meeting between the House and President Abdurrahman Wahid on Tuesday.

Syamsul Muarif, chairman of the Golkar Party faction, supported the proposal. However, he said a state of civil emergency in the three regencies should not hamper planned talks between the government and GAM during the humanitarian pause in the area.

"We worry that GAM has used the humanitarian pause to continue the violence in an effort to draw international attention and discredit the Indonesian government," he said.

He said his party would support any attempts by GAM and the government to end the violence. "Over the last two years, there has not been a day without killing in the province."

Danial Tandjung of the United Development Party (PPP) faction said imposing a state of civil emergency in the three regencies was a necessary move. "(This is) because President Abdurrahman Wahid has never taken effective and concrete steps to solve the Aceh problem immediately."

He said it was time for the government to get tough in stopping the violence in Aceh. The President can take such firm steps as implementing a state of civil emergency, he added.


Meanwhile, Alvin Lie, a legislator from the Reform faction, opposed the idea, arguing the policy could prove counterproductive.

"The problems in Aceh are different from those in other chaotic provinces. A wiser approach would be preferable to stop the violence and to restore security and order," he said.

However, Alvin said his faction would support the government if it enacted emergency law in Aceh.

The chairman of the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Ulemas Council, Imam Suja', voiced similar objections.

Imam said he did not understand what was behind the proposal to impose a state of civil emergency in Aceh. "Do they really understand what has been going on in Aceh. Please don't be arrogant. Let's look into ourselves to anticipate the positives and negatives that would result from this policy."

He said imposing a state of civil emergency would result only in more violence, and violence would not end the problems in Aceh. "Don't victimize more people." (50/jun/rms/sur)