<<previous  | index  |  next>>

Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Violations

Indonesian and GAM forces in Aceh are bound by international humanitarian law (also known as the laws of war). The conflict in Aceh is considered to be a non-international (internal) armed conflict, for which the applicable law includes Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the customary laws of war.42

Common Article 3 provides for the humane treatment of civilians and other persons not taking an active part in the hostilities (including captured members of opposing armed forces). Prohibited at all times are murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; taking of hostages; outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; and summary trials. A fundamental rule of humanitarian law is that the civilian population and individual civilians shall not be the object of attack. Also prohibited are acts or threats of violence against the civilian population that spread terror or the forcible removal of the civilian population without military necessity.

International human rights law remains in effect during an internal armed conflict. This includes prohibitions on extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, punishment without a fair trial, and unnecessary restrictions on the freedom of movement. Fundamental rights of life and liberty may not be infringed upon, even during a state of emergency.43

Extrajudicial killings

We’re used to hearing gunfire. If there isn’t any we can’t sleep.

—Eighteen-year-old Acehnese man44

Since the start of martial law, Indonesian security forces have carried out an unknown number of extra-judicial executions of unarmed civilians in Aceh.45 While the extra-judicial killing of any person – whether civilian or combatant – is a serious violation of international law, every eyewitness to such a killing in Aceh told Human Rights Watch that the victims were not GAM members, were not armed, and were dressed in civilian clothing at the time of execution.46

Of the eighty-five Acehnese interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Malaysia, seven had directly witnessed a summary execution of a civilian by Indonesian security forces since the start of martial law. Three others had discovered bodies of civilians (in two cases their own family members) in close proximity to military operations. Three more had witnessed soldiers firing on civilians where no immediate fatalities resulted. Several others described abductions by the TNI leading to deaths.

There appear to be two types of visible executions currently taking place in Aceh. The first type typically occurs when security forces enter villages during so-called “sweeping operations.” During these raids young men were singled out and shot, and there was no attempt to hide the execution. Families may be told afterwards by soldiers to collect and remove the body for burial.47 The second type of visible killing is of civilians shot while fleeing Indonesian security forces. The deliberate and public nature of these killings suggest that they seek to send a warning to deter villagers from supporting GAM.48 Other extrajudicial killings have occurred when the security forces have taken persons into their custody – and their bodies are later found or they are never heard from again.

Summary killings during sweeping operations

Lives have no value there. If I hit a chicken with my car I have to pay. But a person’s life––who pays for that?

—Eighteen-year-old Acehnese man49

An Acehnese man from Lhokseumawe, North Aceh recounted an incident from May:

At the beginning of martial law, in May, it was really early in the morning. Soldiers were in our village [name withheld]. They were dragging this man through the street. Three soldiers. They were asking everyone “Do you know this man?” If you said you didn't know him you were hit. They asked me “Do you know this man?” I said “yes.” They were checking with people who is this man, what does he do? They were checking his name with people. His name was Jamal. He was young, in his twenties. At first I just saw three soldiers but then others joined in. I saw one of the soldiers handcuff the ankles of this man, and then another soldier held him by his feet and swung him against a tree. The soldier did this many times so that the man's head was hitting the tree. His brains were coming out of his head, until he was dead. And then the corpse was put on the street and another soldier shot many times into the corpse. It was like his arm turned into raw meat. His body was destroyed. The soldier who shot him then told the villagers there to take his body back to the village. I was about twenty meters away. The soldiers said he was a GAM suspect. They didn’t threaten the villagers. They didn't mind who they told.50

A twenty-five-year-old who left South Aceh one week after martial law told Human Rights Watch about the first week of martial law:

Those seven days they kept killing innocent people. GAM is all in the mountains, but the soldiers are always in the villages looking for GAM. That’s what the seven days were like . . . Two were shot in their houses and one was taken away by Brimob in the middle of the day. They were civilians. This was on the fourth day, at 3:00 p.m. I was in my house, but I saw their bodies right afterwards. I saw thirty Brimob officers there. The wife of the first man said that they came in and asked her husband if he was GAM. Then they asked who was involved in GAM. Then they shot him. His name was Ibrahim and he was fifty-five. The second was more or less the same story––he was Yusuf, age seventeen. The one who was taken was already old, at least fifty.51

One man in his twenties told Human Rights Watch about the execution of his brother a week after the declaration of martial law:

My older brother––he’s just a civilian (orang biasa)––was shot. Soldiers came into the village looking for GAM. There weren’t any so they shot villagers instead. My brother was shot at our house. At 6:00 a.m. he got up to wash before prayers. He went outside and they shot him immediately. I woke up then. I wanted to bring his body inside but I couldn’t. Only when they left could I do that. There were different kinds of soldiers there, some from the area and some from outside. There were more than fifty of them. I left Aceh the next morning. My brother was thirty-five, and he had a wife and two children.”52

A man from Peureulak, East Aceh, described a killing in August:

About two months ago in [omitted], Peureulak, there was an incident. It was in the morning with a sweeping for GAM as the reason, but as it turns out there was no GAM. I saw it myself. TNI entered the village, about twenty soldiers were visible, behind them I don’t know. They were looking for GAM. They asked the people in the village, but GAM was not there. There was a man, about twenty years old. A soldier called him over and asked him something. Maybe his response was wrong, I didn’t hear. Another soldier then shot him in his head and again on the upper right side of his body with a gun, an M16. I was about one hundred meters away. I was in my house, I saw it through my window. As soon as the soldier finished shooting he ordered the villagers to bury the body. The soldiers then left, went to look for GAM in another place. That man was not GAM, he was not armed, he was just an ordinary person.53

A thirty-five-year-old also from Peureulak in East Aceh told about the shooting of his brother at the end of July:

Since martial law started things have been hot. You can’t go anywhere. From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. you can’t go out. My brother was shot while getting hay for the cows at 6 a.m. one morning two months ago. My older brother was gathering hay for the cows, near the stable. I was at the house. His son came to the house and said, “Father’s been shot by someone unknown (orang tak dikenal).” He was shot once in the side of his head and once in the left side. My brother’s son said he saw three soldiers coming to look at the body at 6:30, in camouflage. Three hours later, at 9:00, twelve soldiers came out of the forest nearby. After the soldiers came out of the forests they gathered everyone together. They asked, “Who is he? Do you know him? Is he GAM?” “No, he’s my brother.” “Bury him!” Then they went back to town.54

Human Rights Watch was also told about two incidents in which residents were gathered together for questioning and in which there were fatalities. A twenty-year-old from a village at the edge of Lhokseumawe, in North Aceh, described the killing of two unarmed men in civilian clothes:

At five in the morning the TNI came and surrounded the village. People were told to gather by TNI. After that we were questioned. I was at school when we were ordered to gather at the soccer field near the beach. There were about 300 of us. This was about two months after martial law. They asked us about GAM, and any GAM members were told to surrender themselves. They kept us there for four hours, until 11:00 a.m. People were kicked and punched. Two people were killed, after about two hours. I don’t know their names because they were from another village. I was about as far as away as that field is [twenty-five meters]. One soldier shot them both with an M16. He was wearing a green uniform and a green hat. I think they were all from the district military command but I’m not sure. There were over fifty of them. We weren’t allowed near the bodies. After the soldiers left we buried their bodies, even though they weren’t from our village.55

Human Rights Watch learned of four incidents when Indonesian soldiers shot at young men who were running into rice fields of forests to hide from soldiers during sweeping operations. Because of the high level of fear in Aceh of Indonesian security forces, many villagers, especially young men, run and hide when troops enter their village. Witnesses described to Human Rights Watch how some of these men were shot while attempting to escape. Whether they attempted to flee solely because they were afraid of mistreatment or because they were members of GAM is unclear, but witnesses described the victims as apparently unarmed men dressed in civilian clothes.

The twenty-year-old man from a village at the edge of Lhokseumawe, in North Aceh, who described (above) the killing of two men after villagers had been gathered, also described another death that day:

One person tried to run when we were first told to gather, around prayer time, so 6:30 a.m. or so. He was shot.56

One man who arrived in Malaysia at the end of May described a man shot while fleeing:

It was five days after martial law started, in [omitted] village, at about 9:00 a.m. I was in my house and I heard the sound of gunfire, so I went outside. I saw a man running for the rice fields. He was about thirty-years old, he was from the village. Right after that a soldier shot him in the leg, in his right leg, so he couldn’t run anymore and he fell. After that eight soldiers carried him to the TNI post in the village. They were non-organik soldiers. They arrived especially for martial law, I think from Jakarta. They were wearing blue hats. After he was taken to the post he was questioned by the TNI. He wasn’t GAM, but they suspected him of being GAM. After two nights the TNI killed him at their post. I didn’t see him at the time he died, but I saw when his family took his body away. After that I left. I was afraid something like would happen to me.57

Not all shootings are fatal. A twenty-one-year-old from Peureulak, East Aceh described an incident that took place in late September, one month before he arrived in Malaysia:

If you run you are shot. If you don’t run you are beaten . . . A man named Simus, age twenty-three, was shot from thirty meters away. Soldiers in camouflage came in several vehicles: Kostrad, Brimob, Kopassus. I saw some had three red stripes.58 Five of us ran through the rice fields toward the forest. They shot him in the hip––I was just five meters away from him. He got up and kept running, and the five of us hid in the forest for three hours. Then we went back––the TNI had gone back to town. He was afraid to go to the hospital so we took him to a traditional healer who works with the health center, and he removed the bullet.59

In a similar incident in East Aceh in the beginning of October, a man told Human Rights Watch:

The one and only reason I left was that there was no guarantee of safety. The military goes beyond the targets of the operation. Violence toward civilians has passed the limit. They look for GAM, come into the village. If there is no GAM their emotions run away with them toward civilians. There are sweepings, inspections accompanied by “military law”: beatings, disappearances. For example there was a shooting at the beginning of this month [October]. I’m okay, no-one was hit. But it’s called a bullet––it’s traumatic. I was at the village in Peureulak. The army went up into the forest, so people were afraid. We were sitting, drinking coffee, when they came back. People started running––not because they were guilty but just scared. Maybe TNI looked too ready. I didn’t run, I just hid at the edge of the forest. They started firing, two of them. They emptied their magazines––what is that, forty shots? It was a non-organik battalion from Java, Kostrad maybe.60

Whether purposeful or arbitrary, the result of this level of violence against the civilian population in Aceh is likely to have the exact opposite effect of the military’s avowed integrated operation strategy. Aceh’s population is becoming increasingly polarized. The level of serious human rights violations in the province and the impunity that accompanies them is pushing people into the arms of GAM. One eighteen-year-old explained that after being beaten and seeing his parents mistreated he tried to join GAM, only to be prevented by his family (including a brother fighting with GAM):

My parents were hit on August 17, 2002 [Indonesian Independence day], stripped, and forced to sing. This is why people join GAM––for revenge. I tried to join at sixteen but my brother and parents stopped me. They convinced me to contribute in other ways to Aceh, to the economy. So I pray for freedom instead . . . If you were beaten wouldn’t you feel the need for vengeance?”61

The fundamental problem remains a lack of accountability at all levels. Soldiers on the ground commit acts of violence and extortion with little fear of punishment. Already high levels of impunity are only increased by the shroud of secrecy placed over the conflict area.

Abductions leading to deaths

Other killings take place out of the sight of witnesses. One Acehnese man who had been living in Malaysia for five years returned to Aceh in August for a few weeks to visit his sick father. While in Aceh he witnessed TNI soldiers abduct a fifteen-year-old boy:

It was on September 4 at about 10:00 in the morning. I had stopped in the road at the market, Ulee Gle market, to buy fruit. There were about fifteen TNI soldiers there. It was seven soldiers who had stopped the child. He was a small child, a boy. He was still at school, maybe about fifteen years old. He went to the market to buy fish for his mother. The TNI stopped him, checking him because he was buying fish. A soldier said to him, “Lots of fish, do you want to give it to GAM? Where did you get this fish from?” The boy replied, “No, I am going to give it to my mother. I want to go home.” The TNI were accusing him and threatening him. He was threatened with a gun. The soldier said, “You surely want to give this fish to GAM.” After that the boy was really frightened. His answers were not so clear, he was really panicked. So the soldiers took him and threw him into the military truck. The seven soldiers, the others stayed in the market. The seven soldiers were wearing TNI camouflage uniforms. They were non-organik and speaking Indonesian with Javanese accents. For two days we didn’t know where he was. After that his body turned up on the side of the road. I saw the body. There was a bullet wound in his forehead. Just one. The back of his head was all destroyed, and his body was full of red marks, red torture marks.62

In some cases bodies are dumped far from the victim’s home, making identification difficult. One thirty-eight-year-old man, who left his home in Banda Aceh the day before martial law, explained how his family had recovered the body of his brother:

My younger brother was killed two months ago in North Aceh, on August 27. He was detained from his house by TNI, in front of his wife, and taken to the sub-district military command. Two days later his body was found in a rice paddy. [Name omitted] was twenty-six. A relative in the village where his body was left found him and recognized him. He secretly brought the body to his house, covered it with cloth, and in the morning went and got the Indonesian Red Cross at the hospital to come get the body with an ambulance. I got this information from my family when I phoned home.63

Forced disappearances

During the long years of conflict in Aceh, Indonesian security forces have been frequently implicated in “disappearances.”64 The Aceh branch of the Indonesian human rights organization Kontras has reported that from May 19 to August 18 there were seventy-eight forced disappearances of civilians, though they cautioned that restrictions on monitoring meant that estimates may be low.65

In Aceh, forced disappearances frequently occur after security forces or unknown armed men visit a house at night and take the victim away in a vehicle. This practice is popularly described as ambil malam (taken at night). While in many cases the perpetrators are described as orang tak dikenal (persons unknown), in some cases family members or neighbors are able to identify them. Often the bodies of those who “disappear” are found at the side of the road or in a rice field days or weeks later. In other cases they are never seen again.

One man from a coastal area of Pidie explained that when residents found bodies floating at the shoreline they called the Indonesian Red Cross to evacuate the remains. If a body was identifiable it would be taken to the person’s family. If not, the body would be taken to the hospital or clinic and the word would be put out to families known to be missing a relative.66

One twenty-three-year-old from Bireun explained:

The situation now is very grave. Anyone in the village under suspicion is taken away in the night . . . I saw a man taken from his house in his underwear and put on a truck. This was two months ago, in August. I was in the house next door. I went outside into the side yard and watched as three trucks of soldiers came into the village. They took eight people that night, one by one, all men. The whole thing took maybe thirty minutes. They wore camouflage, and some of them had one red stripe. The eight people haven’t been seen since––we don’t know what happened to them.67

Another man from Pidie told Human Rights Watch:

It was five days after martial law started. It was about 5:00 in the morning and I heard a loud knocking on a door. Then I heard someone asking my friend [name withheld] for his ID card. My house is very near his, so I got up and looked through my window. I saw about fifteen TNI soldiers take him from his house. They took him in a TNI truck and took him to the TNI post. Until now he has not returned. I don’t know where he is anymore. It was different soldiers, there were some Kopassus and some with green hats. It was soldiers who had just arrived in Aceh for this martial law. We didn’t know who they were.68

Physical abuse

It doesn’t matter if they are members of GAM or not; none of my soldiers has the right to beat them . . . My troops have come to Aceh to protect civilians, and those who violate this rule of engagement will have to face me.

—Major General Bambang Darmono, Aceh Military Operations Commander, June 2, 200369

For example, my soldier slugs a suspect across the face. That’s no problem. As long as he is able to function after the questioning. If it’s gross torture which causes someone to be incapacitated ... that’s a no-no.

—Major General Bambang Darmono, November 2003.70

Many Acehnese interviewed by Human Rights Watch described acts of violence at the hands of security forces as part of everyday life. Much of the violence directed at civilians appears intended to identify GAM members and supporters, or to send a warning to villagers. Victims frequently described being interrogated with the accusation “You’re GAM!” or the questions “Who is GAM? Where is GAM?” Often this violence takes place during sweeping operations in villages, such as during house-to-house searches or when residents are ordered to assemble in a particular place.

In other cases the violence appears to be highly arbitrary, based on the whim of tense and suspicious soldiers and police officers. Many of the Acehnese we spoke to explained that they were mistreated whether or not they did anything wrong (salah atau tak salah). One man who left Aceh in August explained:

If I stayed in Aceh, guilty or not I get pummeled. That means we’re dead. If we were sitting like this in Aceh, Brimob would ask us, “Is there GAM?” If we say “yes” we get it, if we say “no” we get it. Answer “I don’t know” and we get it, too.71

In several instances, violence against civilians took place just before or after military operations in GAM areas, indicating impatience at or fear of an elusive target and a failure to distinguish between civilians and armed opposition.

A man who arrived in October from Pidie described an incident in which TNI and Brimob rounded up and assaulted residents, two of them fatally:

We are constantly beaten. One time all the people in one area were gathered together, several villages. After that we were lined up and ordered to exercise [demonstrates running in place]. If you didn’t want to exercise, you were beaten to death. Twice this happened. The first time was June 13, 2003. They gathered 300 people from one settlement area––that’s three or four villages. Everyone had to exercise, ninety-year-old men, women, children, old and young. This went on from 9:30 until 2:00 in the afternoon. After they let us break up, seventy-two people were brought to the public hospital in Sigli. They spent the night but were all released later.

They ordered people to lie down and struck their face and chest. Two people died on the spot: Umar Bin Usman, age 32, and Muhammad Ali, age 21. They were seen as GAM, maybe because they were big. They weren’t GAM, we were all civilians. GAM had already gone somewhere else. The soldiers were combined: Kopassus, Brimob, Marines, Rajawali. They all hit us like we were water buffaloes. They crushed my thumbnail with a kakatua [a pincer-shaped pliers] – see? They put my big toe under a chair and pushed down––that one has grown back. Rajawali did this. They said, “Whoever is GAM, raise your hand.” There weren’t any, and we were all beaten. The two who died were stomped in the chest and neck, their teeth knocked out by a Kostrad soldier. I was about four meters from the two who were killed, but I couldn’t look directly at them. At most you could make a sidelong glance. Their bodies were returned to their families and buried.72

The man reported that three weeks later another joint TNI-Brimob operation lined up the men, questioned them, and hit them with rifle butts, while seven women were accused of being inong balee, the GAM’s women’s wing, and forced to strip.73

One forty-year-old from Pidie who arrived in Malaysia in October after two months in Medan described an incident in the weeks before he left Aceh:

At 10:00 one night all of us shop owners were told to turn off all the lights, so we did. The next day we were beaten for turning off the lights! Six shop owners were beaten. They said it was also because we had a radio to communicate with GAM, but there wasn’t any. This went on from 5:00 to 7:00 in the evening. We were gathered at the neighborhood watch post by the soldiers. There were twenty of us including customers who happened to be there. The five other owners were [names omitted]; all six of us were beaten. They beat my body with their guns, and kicked us. These were BKO, Rajawali from Java, twelve of them. That night we left the lights on, and I left Aceh ten days later.74

One twenty-two-year-old man from Pidie described an incident from early September in which civilians were compelled to take part in military operations:

One time at 4:00 a.m. twenty people were gathered together [by TNI] and broken into four groups. They were brought to the mountains to look for GAM. They always put us civilians in the front. After two nights they came back. They hadn’t seen any sign of GAM, and after they came back TNI beat a lot of people, including me. I had just come back from the ocean in my fishing boat, around 8:00 a.m. I got to the beach when some marines asked me, “Where are you coming from?”

“From the ocean.”

“Giving food to GAM?”

“No. Just trying to make a living, looking for fish.”

They didn’t care. I was taken to an empty house, while my friend from the same boat was beaten outside the house. They made me lie down, and two marines stood on my hands while one stepped on my neck. I can’t remember how many times. They did it until I passed out. Then they threw water on me to wake me up and I was kicked again. They asked me, “Who in the village is GAM?” They tried to force me to identify them, but there weren't any to tell them. I told them that but they said, “Yes, there are!” After two hours I was released. I couldn’t even answer their questions any more. The people who beat me were marines, three of them. They weren’t in uniform, but in green T-shirts that said Marinir [Marines] on the back, and uniform pants. Lots of people were beaten that day. Seven days later I went to Banda Aceh to get a passport, then went back to Pidie, got my things and left the same day.75

One twenty-eight-year-old man who arrived at the end of August from East Aceh described the consequences of being caught without a red and white identity card (see below). The incident also illustrates the combination of extortion and violence that has become common on the roads and shops of Aceh:

I saw one of my friends beaten. He forgot his KTP [identity card], and the soldiers were checking. This was in the late afternoon, around five, when people were shopping. I was sitting at a coffee stall with my friend, and Brimob came down from their post in the next village to shop for food. They came into the shop and asked everyone for their KTP. He was the only one without one. After being hit in the head he fell down. When he fell they kicked him in the back. There were twelve of them, and maybe five were involved in hitting him. They let him get up, and he was ordered to sit on the bench. Then they asked him for money, Rp 500,000 (US$60). He only had Rp 100,000, and he gave it to them, and they went to buy food. A group of us brought him by truck to [Simpang Ulim Hospital], because he was bleeding from the head wound. Around 9:00 p.m. we brought him home. When we brought him home he was still dizzy, like he was drunk. This was August 28. I saw this happen to my friend and I left the next morning at 7:00.76

Violence also may take place during house searches, in an apparent effort to intimidate or extract information. A twenty-three-year-old from Bireun described what happened in September:

Once Brimob came to my house, I guess to look for weapons, in two cars. They beat my little brother. Maybe they thought he was GAM. They came at 9:00 a.m. There were three of us in the house––my mother, my brother and me. When I saw them coming I ran and hid in the forest. When they came in my brother was on the floor watching TV. He said they asked if he was GAM and he said no, and they kicked him three times in the leg, breaking it. They ransacked the house, taking one million rupiah (US$120) from under the mattress. We took my brother to the doctor and to the bone setter [dukun patah]. I just spoke to my family by phone and he’s still not well.77

One man from Bireun who left Aceh for Malaysia in mid-October told Human Rights Watch:

In May at 8:00 in the morning in my village near my house, the TNI came. It was about thirty soldiers. When they arrived they asked me, “Who wrote that on the road?” I said, “I don’t know.” On the road there was some writing which said “TNI please never be in Aceh again.” Ten of the soldiers then fired their guns into the air. After that three soldiers hit me. They asked me for my ID card, examined it and then said that I was GAM. I said, “No I’m not,” and then I was beaten. They took off my shirt and trousers and tied my hands behind my back with rope. They left at about 10:00. I was taken to the hospital by people in the village. About ten men were beaten but I was the only one who was tied. I don’t know why. My face was bloody. My hearing was damaged from when they shot their guns into the air. They were really close to me. It was the Siliwangi Battalion normally located in the Peudada post. Not a normal post, one especially for martial law. They also took my ring and my money.78

Another man from East Aceh told Human Rights Watch:

It was two days after martial law started. I was alone on the road going to the shop. Maybe about 10:00 in the morning. There were a lot of soldiers on the road. Maybe one hundred. One of them stopped me in the road. He tied my hands behind my back and hit me straight away because I didn’t tell him where GAM was. He kicked me in the chest. Seven times, in my back and in my front. When he was beating me I said, “Why are you hitting me, I haven’t done anything wrong.” He said, “All the people who have done something wrong have already run away. I have only those who have not done anything wrong left to hit.” After this happened I ran away to Malaysia. I don’t know what will happen one day if I can’t run anymore.79

Arbitrary detention and lack of due process

Many of those arrested on suspicion of GAM membership or support are likely to be tried on charges of treason. The TNI information office reported that as of December 4, 1,338 GAM members were in detention, including 912 fighters and 416 supporters. Military authorities had submitted 1,016 cases to the prosecutor’s office, and 561 had already been given verdicts. At least 500 were found guilty and sentenced. In an earlier statement the military said it had released 145 suspects for lack of evidence.80

The non-governmental organization Kontras has reported that many of those detained have been charged with treason (makar), and estimated that as of October just one hundred have been able to obtain legal assistance. Kontras also reported that as of August 18 there were 213 cases of arbitrary arrest or detention.81 A staff member of the Legal Aid Foundation in Aceh reported many of the detainees they represent claimed to have done no more than buy coffee for rebels, attend a few meetings, or help bury suspected insurgents. They also reported that eighty of their clients had suffered abuse during questioning at the hands of the military or police.82

In jailhouse interviews, defendants told a journalist that they had experienced torture during interrogation, and that one-hour trials took place without defense lawyers or witnesses and resulted in sentences of as much as five years. A legal aid lawyer in that article estimated that 40 percent of defendants have no access to a lawyer.83

Interviewees described many cases of TNI or police suddenly arriving and taking a person or persons away. In addition to the cases cited above, an eighteen-year-old from Aceh Besar told Human Rights Watch:

In September Brimob came into the village and took someone. This man was ordinary––not rich or poor, just ordinary. They took him at 8:00 a.m. He was a neighbor and I saw it. I don’t why––maybe they had some information from someone. There are not yet any signs he was released. He was blindfolded and his hands tied. He was thirty-five and had two young children. They came on one truck with thirty-five men. They took him to the district police station at Jambu Tape, but didn’t issue a warrant.84

The rapid pace and high numbers, in a province with few working courts, raises serious concerns for due process. It is unknown to what extent prisoners have been processed in accordance with the law, given the lack of information and the extra leeway provided by the legal framework of martial law.

One woman from South Aceh said she was taken into custody in October by the military, and held without charge at the local Koramil. She told Human Rights Watch:

At about 10:00 p.m., I was already sleeping, two soldiers came into my house with guns, but there were others outside the house. The two soldiers knocked on the door “open the door!” Both of them had guns, they asked me, “Is your husband here?” I said, “He is not here, I don’t know where he is.” They took me straight to the Koramil in a kijang [Toyota minivan]. One of my friends was inside as well with seven of her children. Some of them very small and also a very sick old man. Inside the kijang, we were all taken to the Koramil. I paid ten million rupiah (US$1200) before they let me free . . . to the head of the Koramil, the operations commander of South Aceh . . . In the Koramil there were lots of people from the village, over 300 people, women, young girls, some men. At 10:00 a.m. we got rice and fish, at 3:00 p.m. rice, evening sometimes rice. Some days there was no rice. The soldiers told us, “GAM can not be given anything nice, it’s not allowed to make nice food.” I’m not GAM. I’m just an ordinary villager.85

Another man told Human Rights Watch about the arrest of his wife in September:

The TNI arrested my wife without a reason . . . At about 8:00 a.m., there was no incident, they just arrived and arrested her . . . When they arrested her I was in the garden plot. Before I returned to the village I heard what had happened so I didn’t go back, until now. There were thirty-nine soldiers and Brimob from Jakarta. When they arrested her they took her to Samalanga. My family has already given eight million rupiah (US$940) to the Military Police commander in Bireun. He asked for more but there is no more money. The military commander told her that if I return to the village the next day she will be released . . . She really does not know what she has done wrong.86

Restrictions on freedom of movement

Nine days after martial law began Aceh regional military commander Major General Endang Suwarya announced that new identity cards would be issued because so many had been stolen by GAM, allowing them to pass through sweepings undetected.87 While this may have indeed been the primary motive, another important motive was to force all Acehnese to present themselves in front of officials. Those who did not were then presumed to be members of GAM. Those without the new identity cards became particular targets of violence and had to curtail their movements significantly.

Instead of the normal Indonesian identity card required nationwide, residents of Aceh are now required to possess a special red and white card, the KTP Merah Putih (Kartu Tanda Penduduk Merah Putih, or red and white identification card). These are the colors of the Indonesian flag.88 The deadline was set for July 31, to be followed by a major inspection and enforcement operation starting August 1.

The issuance of identity cards is not contrary to international law. However, any government restrictions on freedom of movement for reasons of security must have a clear legal basis, and be limited to what is necessary and proportionate; any limits must be the exception, not the norm. In practice, the new identity card requirements have had a significant impact on Acehnese whose cards have been lost, left behind, never obtained, or taken by GAM or Indonesian security forces. As a person can only get a card in his or her home area, anyone who was away when the new requirements were instituted faces risks in traveling home.

Though they needed to have a new KTP to move freely, as the deadline drew close, many Acehnese had not yet received their cards. By late July the head of one district estimated that only 60 percent of residents had the new cards and that he wouldn’t finish the job by the end of the month without assistance from the police and the military.89 A Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement explained that as of August 10, “Seventy percent of the populations who must possess ID card have had the red-and-white card in their hands. The purpose of the introduction of the red-and-white ID card is to separate the civilians from [GAM] members. [GAM] had used a strategy by seizing the civilians’ ID cards to confuse TNI and Police (Polri).”90

One man described the difficulty of getting a card once he had left his home village for the capital of Banda Aceh for safety reasons:

With no KTP I was afraid to go out. Every day was frightening. I wanted to go to Malaysia but I couldn’t. I spent two months [in Banda Aceh]. Finally I got a KTP through my brother’s family identity card. With a KTP I could go to Medan on the public bus. I went to Medan and Malaysia.91

The process of obtaining a new identity card is arduous, requiring prior clearance from the village head, and the signature of the subdistrict military commander, the police chief, and the subdistrict head. Demands for bribes are routine. Several people described paying extra to get their cards, in one case Rp 50,000 (US$6) to the subdistrict head to get a card quickly to leave, in another case Rp 200,000 (US$24).

One man from Pidie, who had been in Malaysia for some time and had returned to Aceh in August, described the process:

I saw that if you didn’t get a KTP you could not be safe. Before that I was afraid to leave the house. But the process of getting a KTP Merah Putih was really difficult, because you have to go yourself to sign for it. If you don’t go, your KTP is not issued. You have to go to the subdistrict head’s office after you have got a photo. My village head came with me. It was three days before I got my KTP.92

One woman from Pidie told Human Rights Watch:

At the beginning of this month I got my KTP. Got it from the police station in Sigli, Pidie. We arrived there to get the KTP with all of the documents. Authorization letters from the village head, to the subdistrict head first, then to the police, back to the subdistrict head. I had to pay Rp 25,000 (US$3). At the police station he ordered us to sing Indonesia Raya [the national anthem]. If you couldn’t sing it he ordered you to stand in the courtyard. He said, “Respect the sun until you can sing the song of your nation.’93

Several of the physical assault incidents described to Human Rights Watch were linked to the red and white identity cards. During the incident above in which the TNI forced villagers to gather and killed three people in a village near Lhokseumawe, North Aceh, a friend of the twenty-year-old witness was beaten:

At the field my friend was beaten. They asked for his KTP. He said, “I left it at the house.”

“No. You’re GAM!”

“No,” he started to cry, “I’m not GAM.”

They kicked him in the torso and he fell down. When he got up he was bleeding from the mouth. His mistake was not having his KTP with him.94

It appears to be difficult to leave Aceh without a red and white card. The majority of the Acehnese interviewed by Human Rights Watch left Aceh by bus to North Sumatra, and nearly all described repeated inspections for the red and white cards. More than ten reported that young men were removed from the bus they were on, presumably for lacking the cards or for other reasons such as for having a name or a face that matched (or resembled) one on a list at the checkpoint. These detentions typically took place at checkpoints at the border with North Sumatra, at Langsa in East Aceh, or at borders between districts such as between North Aceh and East Aceh.

However, as soon as a traveler crosses the border into the neighboring province of North Sumatra, the KTP Merah Putih becomes a liability, marking individuals as Acehnese and subject to arrest, mistreatment, or extortion.

Many people stay with friends or relatives in Medan, or hide in the forest until they can find a way to travel to Malaysia. There were reports of sweeping operations against Acehnese in the provinces of North Sumatra and Riau.95

One man from Bireun told Human Rights Watch about his journey out of Aceh:

I was on a public bus to Medan. There were examinations in Peureulak, in Alue Ie Puteh, also at the border with Medan. The TNI was looking for GAM. Looking at KTPs, they want to know who is GAM, who isn’t GAM. All of the buses had to stop, everyone gets out, asked for your KTP. After that six people were taken, six suspected GAM in Peureulak. I don’t know where they were taken. They were Acehnese, all of them men. I went straight on to Medan. At the border there were lots of security forces … There were three buses and about fifteen people were detained. There’s a detention place. All Acehnese, all men.96

One man who arrived in Malaysia in June told Human Rights Watch about an incident which occurred on his bus journey from North Aceh to Medan:

It was really late at night. We had already arrived in East Aceh. There was a TNI post and everyone was asked to get off the bus and line up. One by one we were called to check our ID cards. I saw two people were taken to the back by five TNI soldiers. It was not far, it was really close by. I then heard the sound of gunfire. After that everyone got back on the bus. Those two people did not get back on the bus. I don’t know where they are.97

One man from Pidie, who returned to Aceh from Malaysia in August, told Human Rights Watch:

I was at the border and the bus stopped for a KTP check. I got off the bus and the bus left without me. Why? Because they saw a telephone number in my wallet, when they were checking my KTP. He said to me, “That’s a GAM name. You are GAM.” It was five policemen. Then they took me to a small room. Three policemen came in and took off my shirt and my trousers. They were asking me to acknowledge that I was GAM. After that they started hitting me because I would not admit it, just that it was my telephone number. Three times I was kicked. I was hit in my face one time, in my body two times. My thighs were kicked. I was held in that room for one hour. After that I was ordered to clean the sides of the room. It was all really disgusting, there was rubbish, durian [a kind of fruit], cigarettes. If I didn’t do it, they said they would shoot me. All three of them had guns, AK-47s. They were police but BKO, [brought in] especially for martial law. They forced me to clean the area. He was pointing . . . After that they freed me . . . I was crying, asking for help to be freed because I wanted to go back to Medan quickly . . . I waited again for a bus and went straight to Medan. I waited in Medan five days. I bought an airline ticket and went straight back to Malaysia.98

Extortion and restrictions on economic activity

The economic situation under martial law has worsened dramatically. In October, Governor Abdullah Puteh noted, “The unemployment and poverty rates caused by the conflict in Aceh are alarming.” Puteh cited recent data showing that 40 percent of the population are living under the poverty line.99 The war has caused the economy to falter, but extensive controls on movement, extortion, and the well-founded fear of violence while traveling to buy or sell goods has greatly exacerbated the problem.

Many Acehnese complained that fear of violence or constraints on mobility had seriously affected their ability to make a living. Nearly all rural residents interviewed noted that inhabitants of their villages were prevented from going to their garden plots (kebun), which are often in the hills above the village. One man told Human Rights Watch, “There are posts in the village, and we're not allowed to go into the hills, to our kebun. If we do we’ll be seen as GAM and they will shoot us.”100

Since GAM forces are primarily in the mountainous areas, anyone apprehended heading there is viewed as either GAM, or as a supporter bringing rice or other supplies to the armed separatists. An eighteen-year-old who arrived on September 11 from Aceh Besar told Human Rights Watch:

People can’t go to the mountains. The mountains are surrounded by TNI. We can’t look for food, cut timber to build a house, grow vegetables or cassava. Our economy is frozen. We’re afraid of gunfire, so we don’t dare go there. We’re warned: “If you go up there we can’t say what will happen. You’ll have to be responsible for yourself.”101

These are not idle threats. A twenty-six-year-old from South Aceh reported:

On July 23 there was a man looking for food near [omitted] village, Labuhan Haji subdistrict. This man, Bahari, went up into the hills to his vegetable garden but was detained by Brimob and brought to the Brimob post in Labuhan Haji. He was tortured there––stabbed with a knife, and asked if he was GAM. He didn’t admit it, and he was killed. Two others were detained at the same time and also stabbed, but they didn’t confess. I saw the body at his house. I’m not sure where it was found, but it was sent to his house.102

One thirty-year-old who arrived from Central Aceh soon after martial law began said:

My life was very hard. I was working as a driver of a minibus on the highway, within the subdistrict. Then I got scared because of the checkpoints on the road by TNI and Brimob . . . When I drive the vehicle they stop me for money on the road. If you don’t give it to them, you’re beaten. If you don’t have money and try to bargain––“I don’t have ten, here’s five”––they won’t accept it. If he says ten it must be ten. You can’t bargain with them.103

Another driver from Bireun echoed the danger of traveling by road:

I sell fish in Takengon, in South Aceh. But I had to stop going there because I’m afraid of the militias. Lots of Acehnese are disappearing, their trucks taken. The militias were trained in 1999 by TNI and Polri. Before that there was no problem. But recently two other fish traders I know disappeared: Rusli in October and Azahari in September. Their bodies never turned up. I made my last trip in July.104

A twenty-year-old fisherman from North Aceh who arrived two weeks ago explained:

There are posts every fifty meters in some places. If we go out in a boat first we have to go to the Marine post and report, and hand in our KTPs. Then if we go to Lhokseumawe to sell fish we have to report there, and then again at the Marine post when we get back to pick up our KTP . . . Once I was taking care of my rooster for cockfighting. Soldiers came and asked me for it. I already gave them one so I said no. They asked again. I didn’t want to give them another one. Then he threatened me––“If you don’t give it to me, I’ll shoot you.” Because I was afraid, I gave it to him. He was from the local post, which is mostly Javanese, Sriwijaya Battalion 141.105

One man who owned a rice milling business reported:

Making your way in life in Aceh is difficult. If you try to make a living, they ask for money. I have a rice mill. Every day TNI asks for 450 kilograms. They say, “If you don’t give it to us, tonight you’ll be killed.” I could have gone on the pilgrimage to Mecca twenty times by now. But if it’s asked, it’s given . . . I couldn’t take it anymore. I was asked for seven million rupiah (US$825) and told that if I didn’t have it in three days I would not be safe. Kopassus came at 11:00 a.m., four of them in a Taft––it’s like a Pajero but smaller. They’re BKO, based at the subdistrict military command. This was October 8 or 9. They were about to be moved to another BKO post and wanted “moving money” (uang pindah). After they left I went to my friend at the coffee stall in front of my house. He asked what they wanted and I told him: seven million rupiah in three days. He told me “It’s better you just leave.” I left after two days––they gave me three, right? I told my three sons to just go to [withheld], telling them, “If I’m not here they’ll take you.”106

The return of jaga malam: compulsory night guard duty

We should consider giving proper recognition to the public’s demands to be allowed to defend themselves and their property, especially those living in conflict areas . . . In facing armed civilians that extort, torture and even kill other civilians, the people’s participation is increasingly necessary given the lack of security personnel.

—President Megawati, to police at a July ceremony107

Historically, the TNI has used tactics such as “the fence of legs” in East Timor to put civilians between soldiers and guerillas, both as human shields and to use civilians to flush out resistance fighters.108 There have been several recent media reports of the use of civilians in military operations in Aceh.109 One man told Human Rights Watch of villagers being taken to the mountains to search for GAM, but it is unclear how often this tactic is being used under martial law.

In interviews with Human Rights Watch, the most widely reported instance of civilian participation in defense is unarmed compulsory night guard duty, or jaga malam, a strategy from the DOM period revived soon after martial law began. According to a government statement on progress under martial law:

Neighborhood watch has increased in villages from 0% to 70%. All these [sic] attention and awareness comes from the people spontaneously.110

Another statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asserts:

In order to create secured and order situation in [Aceh], the operation is directed to stimulate the bravery of the local society to fight against [GAM]. Some positive development has been achieved for example some posts have been set-up by local people which also serve as Information Posts, and the Acehnese loyalty to the Unitary State of Indonesia is strengthening, as well as their awareness on their rights and obligation [sic].111

However, testimony collected in Malaysia indicates that security forces employ the threat and use of violence to force male residents in villages to take turns guarding the village. One twenty-two-year-old man from Pidie who arrived in Malaysia on October 14 described when soldiers instituted night guard duty in his village:

Jaga malam started after martial law, about a month after. We used to have to do it under DOM also. All the males over fifteen have to guard, even old men. Before, under DOM, the old men never had to do guard duty. We have to do it three times a week, four people at a time. All four of us were beaten for falling asleep, three different times. We don’t move around but stay at the neighborhood watch post. They don’t say what we are supposed to be guarding––just jaga malam! They don’t say guard this or that.112

One woman from Peureulak, in East Aceh, left the province in mid-October. She told Human Rights Watch:

My husband was beaten by the TNI in August when he was jaga malam. My husband then became sick and so could not go and look for food. I had to leave [Aceh] to get money and food. It is now always like this, there is no change. During this martial law it is difficult to find food.113

Compulsory night guard duty is an additional aspect of an increasingly untenable life for men in Aceh, exposing them to risks of retaliation by both sides. While jaga malam may not put civilians at the same level of risk as direct involvement in military operations or being forced to join militias, it puts civilians squarely between GAM and the TNI. And, as one thirty-year-old who arrived from Central Aceh soon after martial law began, said:

The police and Brimob come into the village and tell people to guard it. GAM asks us to tell them what TNI and Brimob are doing. But if we tell GAM, we will surely be kidnapped and threatened.114

Two Acehnese interviewed by Human Rights Watch also complained about forced labor, such as constructing the new village-level posts.115

Displacement and looting

Since the start of martial law, tens of thousands of civilians have been forced by fighting or ordered by the Indonesian government or security forces to leave their homes and villages. For example, in early July about 10,000 people in North Aceh reportedly fled their homes as the Indonesian Air Force bombed rebel positions in mountainous Pantai Pisang in Nisam subdistrict. Residents reported being ordered by the military to relocate to two camps in the neighboring Dewantara and Muara Batu subdistricts.116

Mass relocation or displacement of civilians solely to deny a willing social base to the opposing force is prohibited by international humanitarian law. Parties to a conflict must not order the displacement of people unless there are genuine concerns for the security of the civilians involved, or there are imperative military reasons for such action.117 Should such displacements be carried out, all possible measures should be taken to ensure that the sites to which they are relocated offer satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety and nutrition.118

Many displaced are able to return to their homes after a comparatively short period, so the figures fluctuate from week to week. Official estimates fell from over twenty-thousand displaced persons in eleven districts in August to just under ten thousand persons in six districts by mid-November. More than 100,000 people have been displaced at some point since the start of martial law.119

One twenty-two-year-old man who arrived from Pidie described how some in his village fled the TNI, while others were rounded up and transported away:

One morning four tanks came into the village. The people in the village were scared, and some fled for the mountains, and the rest fled to Sigli, where there was a big displaced persons camp at the field there. We went there because there was a call from the mosque to gather there. We were told by a soldier: “Leave your homes now!” (Sekarang mengungsi!) I think he was from a Siliwangi BKO post. We went back to our houses to get essential things. We had an hour to pack our things, then three trucks came to take us to Sigli, about forty kilometers away. We weren’t told any reason. We spent fifteen days there, living in tents. After that we were sent home in trucks again. The people in the mountains came home after we did.120

A woman from North Aceh described looting that took place while residents were displaced:

I fled to a refugee camp. When we returned home our things were gone. Chickens, goats were stolen during the time we had fled, taken by soldiers who then asked for Rp 300,000 (US$35) to return our goods to us. Some people paid, but I was too scared.121

In late July General Endriartono Sutarto, the army chief of staff, admitted that the army forcibly displaced civilians and apologized for the looting:

With some considerations, we [TNI] forced people to leave their homes and take refuge while soldiers tried to root out the rebels who often try to blend with civilians in their villages . . . Even if the refugees stayed in the camps for three or four days only, they found their homes looted when they moved back to their homes. I ask for an apology for that. I don’t want people to sacrifice that much.122

As outlined in “Aceh Under Martial Law: Unnecessary and Dangerous Restrictions on International Humanitarian Access,” there continue to be concerns about lack of access to food, health care, and education for displaced persons in Aceh.123 Fighting between the Indonesian military and GAM, as well as restrictions on movement, has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of civilians by cutting food supplies, water, electricity, communications, schooling, and healthcare to thousands. The overall picture from the scant information available is that the population of Aceh faces a shortage of basic supplies and services. Conditions are likely to be worse for those who have been forced to flee their homes. Preliminary information indicates that the fighting has forced thousands of civilians out of their homes. The Jesuit Refugee Service and Indonesian media sources have already highlighted reports of poor water and sanitation facilities, malnutrition, and skin complaints amongst this population.124 The refusal by Indonesia to allow access to international humanitarian agencies and NGOs makes a complete assessment impossible.125

42 Indonesia became a party to the Geneva Conventions in 1958. Also applicable is the Second Additional Protocol of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol II). Although Indonesia is not a party to Protocol II, many if not all of its provisions reflect customary international law.

43 While Indonesia is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other important human rights treaties, the fundamental rights found within are recognized as part of customary international law.

44 Human Rights Watch interview [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

45 An extra-judicial execution (or summary execution) is an unlawful and deliberate killing of a person by state forces. The killing of combatants engaged in armed combat are considered lawful killings under international humanitarian law.

46 GAM combatants generally wear uniforms, though members will wear civilian clothes while in civilian areas. The dress of a person is by no means dispositive as to their membership; however interviewees could often state confidently that a neighbor or acquaintance was not a GAM member.

47 This is consistent with the findings of an Australian journalist who visited five villages in which there had been shootings the first week of martial law, before media restrictions tightened: “Interrogation, followed by beatings then summary execution, is the pattern emerging in Indonesia's military offensive against the rebels of Aceh.” Matthew Moore, “In Aceh, death has a pattern,” The Age (Australia), May 25, 2003.

48 Protocol II, art. 13, specifically prohibits “[a]cts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population.” See Human Rights Watch, “Indonesia: The War in Aceh,” A Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 13, No. 4 (c), August 2001.

49 Human Rights Watch interview [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

50 Human Rights Watch interview with forty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 23, 2003.

51 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-five-year-old man, [name withheld] October 26, 2003, Malaysia.

52 Human Rights Watch interview with man in his twenties [name withheld], Malaysia, October 31, 2003.

53 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

54 Human Rights Watch interview with thirty-five-year-old [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

55 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-year-old man [name withheld] Malaysia, October 31, 2003.

56 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-year-old man [name withheld] Malaysia, October 31, 2003.

57 Human Rights Watch interview with forty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

58 Although there is a wide variety of security forces and insignias present in Aceh, three red stripes most likely indicates private first class.

59 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 27, 2003.

60 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-five-year-old man [name withheld] October 28, 2003, Malaysia.

61 Human Rights Watch interview with an eighteen-year-old man, [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

62 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-five-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 29, 2003.

63 Human Rights Watch interview with thirty-eight-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 29, 2003.

64 A “disappearance” occurs when the authorities detain a person secretly and incommunicado and deny that the person is in their custody; persons so detained are frequently tortured, ill-treated or killed. While a non-state actor cannot technically commit a “disappearance” as it is defined under international law, GAM has a history of carrying out kidnapping, both for ransom and for political reasons, and summary killings.

65 Kontras Aceh, “Briefing paper on Aceh: Aceh province, uncovered dirty war,” September 2003.

66 Human Rights Watch interview with sixty-five-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, November 5, 2003.

67 One red stripe most likely corresponds to the rank of an army private. Human Rights Watch interview [name withheld], Malaysia, October 31, 2003.

68 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

69 Tiarma Siboro, “Aceh Court to Try 7 soldiers,” The Jakarta Post, June 3, 2003.

70 Lely Djuhari, “Commander in Aceh denies torture claims,” Associated Press, November 22, 2003.

71 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-six-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

72 Human Rights Watch interview [name withheld], Malaysia, November 5, 2003.

73 Media accounts have detailed similar incidents in which a large group or men is questioned and beaten and one or two men are singled out and shot. See Richard C. Paddock, “Indonesia's Separatist War Claims the Young,” Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2003.

74 Human Rights Watch interview with forty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 29, 2003.

75 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-two-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 29, 2003.

76 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-eight-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 31, 2003.

77 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-three-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 31, 2003.

78 Human Rights Watch interview with thirty-two-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 24, 2003. Members of the Siliwangi Battalion were charged and acquitted in a military court for beatings in Dewantara, North Aceh on August 30.

79 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-three-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

80 TNI Information Center, “1.338 Anggota Pemberontak GAM Ditahan,” December 4, 2003; “140 Napi GAM akan Dipindah ke JawaSerambi, December 4, 2003. “PDMD Tentukan Amnesti Anggota GAM,” Sinar Harapan, November 13, 2003; “'GAM still strong',”, November 9, 2003.

81 An arrest or detention is arbitrary when carried out by state authorities without a proper, well-founded legal basis for doing so.

82 “Commander in Aceh denies torture claims,” Associated Press, November 22, 2003. Kontras, “5 Bulan Darurat Militer; Berhasil Ciptakan Ketergantungan Sipil pada Militer,” Press Release, October 20, 2003; Kontras Aceh, “Briefing paper on Aceh: Aceh province, uncovered dirty war,” September 2003.

83 “Suspected Indonesian rebels tell of jailhouse terror,” Associated Press, December 7, 2003.

84 Human Rights Watch interview with eighteen-year-old-man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

85 Human Rights Watch interview with thirty-year-old woman [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

86 Human Rights Watch interview with thirty-seven-year old man [name withheld], Malaysia, November 5, 2003.

87 Nur Raihan, “KTP Sementara Aceh Berlaku 1 Juli,” detikcom, May 29, 2003.

88 While this was intended to reinforce allegiance to the Indonesian state, the symbol may become more deeply associated with oppressive conditions, as occurred in East Timor in 1999.

89 Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, “New ID requirements add more misery for Acehnese,” The Jakarta Post,July 28, 2003.

90 Department Of Foreign Affairs, “Briefing Paper On Current Development In The Province Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD) Period: 19 May – 10 August 2003.” By December 4, the army announced that 95 percent of those eligible had the new ID cards. TNI Information Center, “1.338 Anggota Pemberontak GAM Ditahan,” December 4, 2003.

91 Human Rights Watch interview with man in his twenties [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

92 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-five-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 29, 2003.

93 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-five-year-old woman [name withheld], Malaysia, November 6, 2003.

94 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 31, 2003.

95 Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, “Komnas HAM to probe Aceh violations,” The Jakarta Post, June 3, 2003.

96 Human Rights Watch interview with forty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

97 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-two-year-old Acehnese man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

98 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-five-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 29, 2003.

99 “Alarming Poverty & Unemployment in Aceh,” Laksamana, October 29, 2003. (accessed December 4, 2003).

100 Human Rights Watch interview with a twenty-two-year- old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 29, 2003.

101 Human Rights Watch interview with an eighteen-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 28, 2003.

102 Human Rights Watch interview with a twenty-six-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

103 Human Rights Watch interview, thirty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

104 Human Rights Watch interview [name withheld], Malaysia, October 25, 2003. Although groups linked to the military have been around at least since 1990, reports of militia activity in several districts, especially those with Javanese migrants to recruit, have increased in recent years.

105 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 31, 2003.

106 Human Rights Watch interview [name withheld], Malaysia, November 5, 2003.

107 Fabiola Desy Unidjaja and Tiarma Siboro, “President endorses civilian ‘guards’,” The Jakarta Post, July 2, 2003.

108 In 1981, the Indonesian military conducted an operation they called the “fence of legs” campaign in East Timor. In an attempt to smoke resistance fighters out of hiding, the military forced civilians to walk in lines from the perimeter of the half-island, heading towards the center. The military followed behind, using them as human shields against the resistance fighters.

109 For example, around 1,000 villagers from Leupung subdistrict in Aceh Besar were reportedly engaged in a hunt for GAM rebels in the nearby forest. The Aceh Besar district military commander claimed that the military was only providing backup to an initiative of the villagers themselves. Nani Farida, “Civilians involved directly in hunt for GAM rebels,” The Jakarta Post, Sept. 17, 2003.

110 “Government Evaluation on Special Operation in Aceh,” Indonesian Government Statement,, August 15, 2003.

111 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia, “Briefing Paper on Current Development in the Province Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD), Period: 19 May – 10 August 2003.”

112 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-two-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

113 Human Rights Watch interview with thirty-year-old woman [name withheld], Malaysia, October 24, 2003.

114 Human Rights Watch interview with thirty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

115 One of two people to describe the mandatory work explained: “At night we jaga malam, in the morning we have to do gotong royong [cooperative effort], building new posts and camps. Or we're ordered to bring palm tree trunks up a hill. Sometimes when they leave, we have to take down the post, then they move back and we have to build it again. In my village they just took over an empty house, but we had to go build posts in the other villages. We have to do this maybe two days out of every week.” Human Rights Watch interview with thirty-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

116 A'an Suryana, “Acehnese flee air strike,” The Jakarta Post, July 1, 2003. Non-Acehnese have also been intimidated into leaving Aceh in the past, most likely by GAM. By 2001 there were nearly 50,000 Javanese in North Sumatra who had been displaced from Aceh. It is possible that similar behavior is taking place under martial law but lack of access makes this difficult to determine. See Human Rights Watch, “The War in Aceh” A Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 13, No. 4 (c), August 2001; Human Rights Watch, “Indonesia: Civilians Targeted in Aceh,” A Human Rights Watch Press Backgrounder, May 2000; Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, E/CN.4/2002/95/Add.2, February 15, 2002.

117 Geneva Conventions, Protocol II, art. 17, which is considered reflective of customary international law, provides that the "displacement of the civilian population shall not be ordered for reasons related to the conflict unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand."

118 The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (the Guiding Principles), adopted in September 1998 by the U.N. General Assembly, reflect international humanitarian law as well as human rights law, and provide a consolidated set of international standards governing the treatment of the internally displaced. Although not a binding instrument, the Guiding Principles are based on international laws that do bind states as well as some insurgent groups, and they have acquired authority and standing in the international community.

119 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia, “Briefing Paper on Current Development in the Province Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD), Period: 19 May – 10 August 2003”; UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “OCHA Consolidated Situation Report No. 154,” November 14, 2003; Jesuit Refugee Service, “JRS Dispatches No. 142,” November 17, 2003.

120 Human Rights Watch interview with twenty-two-year-old man [name withheld], Malaysia, October 29, 2003.

121 Human Rights Watch interview [name withheld], Malaysia, October 26, 2003.

122 A court-martial began on July 22 for two soldiers charged with stealing cash and jewelry from the home of a suspected separatist rebel in North Aceh. Human Rights Watch is not aware of the outcome. Tiarma Siboro, “TNI chief offers apology to Acehnese people,” The Jakarta Post, July 26, 2003.

123 Human Rights Watch, “Aceh Under Martial Law: Unnecessary and Dangerous Restrictions on International Humanitarian Access,” A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, September 2003.

124 Jesuit Refugee Service, “JRS Dispatches No. 137,” August 1, 2003.

125 As of October 2003, the Indonesian government reported forty-seven health-related deaths in the camps. However, this information is impossible to verify or interpret without knowing more about prevailing mortality rates in the total population, available health facilities, and other basic information. Satkorlak NAD, “IDPs Dead in Aceh,” (processed and checked by International Organization of Migration Banda Aceh), October 5, 2003.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>

December 2003