Tue, 30 May 2000

Top negotiator with GAM appeals for restraint

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): Senior diplomat Hassan Wirajuda, who is the government's chief negotiator with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), called on all conflicting parties on Monday to exercise restrain to help restore peace in the province.

"Without awareness from all related parties, it is hard to establish a conducive security situation in Aceh," Hassan told reporters at Hotel Kuala Tripa before flying for Jakarta.

Hassan, Indonesia's permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, signed the joint understanding for humanitarian pause with GAM in Geneva on May 12. The agreement, which is effectively a call for a ceasefire, comes into effect on Friday.

More than 32 people have died in violent clashes since the Geneva signing. Most of the killings however have been blamed on unidentified armed gangs and not GAM.

Hassan said all Acehnese should work together to restore peace.

"We realize that there are certain parties trying to take advantage of the situation. So let's end the conflicts," he said.

Hassan's entourage included Usman Hasan, former Indonesian ambassador to Mexico and Amran Zamzami, chairman of the independent inquiry team on human rights abuse in Aceh.

Amran Zamzami said a joint military and civilian tribunal will be staged soon for perpetrators in the case of Rumoh Gedong, a torture camp in Pidie regency allegedly run by the military until 1998.

In the latest violent clashes, four men, including a senior military officer, were killed in separate incidents in North and East Aceh on Sunday, officials said.

The body of Lt. Col. Sulaiman Achmad of the North Aceh military district command was found with bruises on his torso and his neck was strapped with a nylon rope on the side of the road at Lancang Barat village in Dewantara district.

North Aceh police spokesman Capt. Ahmad Mustafa Kamal said Sulaiman was abducted a day earlier by a group of gunmen when he was walking on the main road of Ulee Nyeu village in Nisam district, near the pulp factory Kertas Kraft Aceh in North Aceh.

In Lhokseumawe, a civilian named Mansur, with the alias Cut Aja, 32, who went missing after a police raid here last week was found dead with his hand chopped off in Padang Sakti village near Exxon-oil refinery at Muara Dua district on Sunday.

The military also shot dead a gunman named Tarmizi Bin Ismail in Seunebouk Kuyun in Idie Rayeuk in East Aceh on Sunday.

The fourth casualty was an unidentified civilian from North Aceh. (50/edt)