Jakarta Rights Group Attacked for Aceh Stance

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Tue May 27 18:42:02 MDT 2003

For Immediate Release: 
May 28, 2003 
Indonesia: Jakarta Rights Group Attacked for Aceh Stance 
Police Fail to Respond 

(New York, May 28, 2003)—Indonesian police failed to stop two organized
attacks on Kontras, a prominent Jakarta-based rights group, Human Rights
Watch said today.  Human Rights Watch called for a full investigation into
the attacks, which appeared directed at the group because of its work in
the embattled province of Aceh. Human Rights Watch also urged protection
for all Indonesian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) reporting on the

“The failure of the police to respond to these attacks on a leading human
rights organization sets a bad precedent for all groups working on Aceh,”
said Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.
“The Indonesian government must ensure that domestic human rights
organizations are free to work and report on Aceh in safety, especially now
that the province is closed to international monitors.” 

In separate incidents on May 26 and 27, a uniformed group calling
themselves Pemuda Panca Marga attacked the Central Jakarta office of
Kontras (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence).  Pemuda
Panca Marga is a youth group that Human Rights Watch has reported to be
involved in numerous incidents of pro-government violence in the past. 

At 2:30 p.m. on May 26, approximately twenty members of Pemuda Panca Marga
arrived at the Kontras office and accused staff of pro-separatist leanings
and opposing a unitary Republic of Indonesia. Members of Pemuda Panca Marga
physically assaulted Usman Hamid, a senior presidium member of Kontras, and
burned a Kontras banner.  Four police officers present during the attack
refused to intervene despite appeals by Kontras staff. 

At 12:30 p.m. on May 27, approximately 100 Pemuda Panca Marga members
returned to the Kontras office. They physically assaulted three senior
members of Kontras, Coordinator for the Presidium of Kontras Ori Rahman,
Public Opinion Coordinator Gian Moko, and Usman Hamid. They also destroyed
part of Kontras’ offices. During the hour-long attack, the police failed to
respond to repeated calls for assistance. Two police officers finally
arrived a half-hour after the group had dispersed. 

Kontras is a widely respected Indonesian NGO with headquarters in Jakarta.
It has a long history of monitoring and reporting on human rights
violations in Aceh, in part from a field office there.  Last week, the
Indonesian military commander in Aceh listed Kontras as one of the NGOs
that would be monitored for alleged separatist activities. 

President Megawati Sukarnoputri declared a state of military emergency for
Aceh on May 19, 2003. Since then fighting in the province has escalated.
While the province is closed to international monitors, there have been
reports of extrajudicial killings, a crackdown on NGO activities,
restrictions on press freedoms and insufficient humanitarian assistance for
internally displaced persons. 

For more information, please contact: 
In New York, Brad Adams: +1 212 216 1228 (o) or +1 973 762 6996 (h) 
In New York, Charmain Mohamed (Bahasa): +1 212 216 1299 (o) or +1 718 302
5859 (m) 
In London, Urmi Shah:  +44 20 7713 2788 
In Brussels, Vanessa Saenen: +32 2 732 2009 

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