Aceh reconstruction is mainly physical, civil rights stiil oppressed


This morning, Udeep Beusaree Network (abbreviated as JUB, consisting of 24 kampongs in 3 sub-districts) together with UPLINK Indonesia were installing those banners in mainroads and villages where the President was said passing during his visit in this province. Those banners, saying only Aceh Reconstruction Must Be Led by the People, was aimed as a remembrance for all parties involved in reconstruction projets in Aceh and Nias to allow Acehnese people as the subjects with absolute rights to participate.

But, for military officers from Kodim (military body at district level) and Koramil (military body at sub-district level), those banners are presumed to be something annoying and extreme, which tend to contempt and insult the government, and persuading the people not to be willingly ruled by the government. And, they argued that this banner installation was not accompanied by a permit letter from Police Office. Due to these two reasons, those banners were finally discarded. Surprisingly, this discard was not carried out by police officers on whom special authority in such a civil affairs rest, but by military officers. And one of the officers told that the banner banning was a direct instruction from the Chief of Kodam Iskandar Muda.

Destruction to our banners (the banner woods were broken down, the banner cloths were torn) lasted from 12 midnight to 7 am (26 December 2005). These destruction were committed by tens of Kodim and Koramil officers in uniforms. At 1 and 2 am on the bridge of Ulee Pata and within Peukan Bada area, several members from JUB/UPLINK who were installing the banners were threatened to imprisonment because they couldn’t show permit letter and formerly didn’t give any notice to Kodim.

Facing this arbitrary action, members of JUB/UPLINK directly protested on site, both addressed to the lower rank officers and to intelligence commander at Kodim (Danintel Kodim) and Mr. Hadi, Danramil Peukan Bada (Chief of Military at sub-distrct level), as the field leader in this operation. We argued following reasons:

1. Destroying the banners is a violation against human rights, because through banners people are expressing their freedom to speak which is guaranteed in 1945 Constitution and International Covenants for Civil and Political Rights recently ratified by the government.
2. Statement on the banners is something normal for Acehnese whom are much left behind in political participation. The military tended to be narrowly minded and interpreting them as an insult to government.
3. Destruction by military officers shows that the army is doing something beyond its authority. It is supposed to be the police that has the single authority for such civil affairs. Meanwhile, there was no formal statement from Police Office which clearly prohibits the installation of thousands of banners from hundreds of organizations currently working in Aceh.

When the destruction was taking place at about 2 am, we immediately reported it to Sudirman Said, Deputy of Communication at BRR (Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency). Sudirman Said stated that banner installation was not a problem, and he directly informed this to Mr. Hadi (Danramil Peukan Bada) via handphone. However, BRR’s request not to discard the banners was not responded at all.

From this incident, we could conclude that government only looks at the reconstruction process as merely something physical. There is still no room for the people of Aceh and Nias to be the subjects of reconstruction, of whose skills and voices left out by tsunami is supposed to be invaluably social capital. And it proves that the military is still having control over the Acehnese life, even after the Helsinki agreement which was signed in last August.

Local people coming from villages in JUB already expressed their disappointment over this incident. They felt that government and the military still pay no respect to the principles of human rights.

Wardah Hafidz