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Indybay Feature
Sat Jan 8 2005
Aceh Faces Double Disaster: Tsunami and Occupation
Indonesian Army still on the offensive amid the ruins
1/8/2005: When the tsunami and 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck on December 26th, four and a half million Acehnese were already living out a disaster. Despite a massive nonviolent independence movement that peaked after the fall of U.S.-backed Indonesian dictator General Suharto, the Indonesian military (TNI) has renewed warfare with the armed Free Aceh Movement (GAM). The occupied province was militarized by 50,000 TNI troops in May 2003, who have conducted a war to "exterminate" the GAM, widely reported to have included rape, torture and murder of Acehnese civilians, notably organizers, journalists and human rights activists.
The quake and the massive flooding brought by the tsunami hit Aceh harder than any other place on Earth. Deaths number in the tens of thousands, with perhaps 40,000 in the coastal town of Meulabolah and 30,000 in the capital, Banda Aceh. A unilateral cease-fire declared by GAM has not been respected by the government, which continued raids in the last devastated highlands. Meanwhile visiting U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that the U.S. will be supplying new helicopters to the TNI, which has a record of turning such “non-lethal aid” to deadly and even genocidal use. Military authorities continue to have emergency powers in Aceh and are restricting outside aid groups. On January 6, Australian reporters who observed Indonesian troops beating Acehnese civilians were told "Your duties here are to observe the disaster, not the conflict between TNI and GAM" and ordered to leave.
Reports: Democracy Now: Activists Blast Indonesian Military for Holding Up Critical Aid | Acehnese Refugees Speak Out | Aceh: A Victim of Tsunami & Occupation || Indonesian army steps up war in Aceh | The Aftermath in Aceh
Aceh background: Wikipedia | Human Rights Watch | Indonesia Alert! | East Timor Action Network/US
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Related Categories: International
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