Thu, 19 Jun 2003

Sweden expected to act against GAM leaders

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Former defense minister Juwono Sudarsono congratulated the special delegation's success in conveying Indonesia's stance on the exiled Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leaders to the Swedish government.

"The team, of course, has yet to succeed in convincing the Swedish side, but, to some extent, they successfully conveyed Indonesia's stance," he said on Tuesday on the sidelines of a seminar themed Indonesia towards a true democracy: Opportunities and challenges.

Juwono, who is to assume an ambassadorial post in London, said that Sweden was referring to its own laws in handling the issue and so Indonesia could not take action against Hasan Tiro, the alleged top leader of GAM, and other rebellious Acehnese figures, if they were not found to be in violation of Swedish law.

The government is waiting for Swedish authorities to act against the GAM exiled leaders within two weeks, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said.

"We are waiting for one or two weeks to see whether Sweden will act on its word that if there is adequate evidence against Hasan Tiro and his cronies, they will file a legal process against them," Susilo said after briefing President Megawati Soekarnoputri at the presidential office on Tuesday.

Susilo informed the President on the results of the special delegation's mission to Sweden. The team, led by former foreign minister Ali Alatas, was in Sweden from June 10 to June 14.

Alatas had already discussed the mission's result with Susilo at the latter's office on Monday.

During his stay in the Swedish capital city of Stockholm, Alatas and his team met with Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh and the deputy attorney general to hand over evidence of the exiled GAM leaders' involvement in the armed rebellion in Aceh and in a series of terror acts in other regions across Indonesia.

The Swedish officials gave positive responses to the Indonesian delegation, and assured them that the legal evidence would be processed properly. The officials also allegedly said that those exiled GAM leaders who had already obtained Swedish citizenship would be punished if they were found to be in breach of Swedish law.

Susilo said that the mission to Sweden was a part of the ongoing military operation to quash the armed rebellion in Aceh.

"So, we will continue to focus on the military operation," he said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Besides taking up arms against the government, GAM has also allegedly committed acts of terror with a series of bombings in Medan, North Sumatra, and Jakarta over the last three years.

GAM had launched the armed rebellion to oppose the government's treatment of Aceh, past human rights abuses by the two warring sides and the unjust share of the government's income from natural resources exploration in the province.

The government had made a peace offering of a special autonomy status for Aceh, under which it would be allowed to handle its own domestic affairs, but GAM rejected the offer and continued to press for independence.