Thursday, January 20, 2005

NEW MILITARY TERROR IN ACEH?

Eurico Guterres was the leader of the Indonesian army militias who carried out genocide in East Timor.

It has been reported that he has visited Aceh to set up a militia to fight Aceh's separatist rebels.

Indonesia’s special human rights court in November 2002 convicted Guterres of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 10 years in jail. Jakarta High Court in July 2004 reduced his sentence to five years. He still remains free pending a lengthy appeal process.

Human rights groups in 2003 accused Guterres of going to Papua to set up the ‘Merah Putih’ militia to oppose the separatist Free Papua Organization.

The Daily Telegraph has reported that, according to associates of Guterres, he visited Aceh last week and that 900 members of his Army-backed militia had assembled in the province.

The Telegraph said “The militia's appearance raises fears that the military is using it to sabotage a proposed ceasefire and intimidate Acehnese civilians”.

The report quoted Eddy Juliansyah, who allegedly runs the militia's Aceh headquarters, as saying the group had already assembled 900 members to defend "Indonesian unity".

The Telegraph said there was “little evidence” the militia was conducting relief work. It said the group was not reporting to a local military commander, but instead reported to Major General Adam Damiri, the former chief of Indonesian forces in East Timor.

Damiri was convicted in August 2003 of crimes against humanity and sentenced to three years in jail. He remained free pending appeal and his conviction was overturned by Jakarta High Court in July 2004. Over recent years he has been posted in Aceh, reportedly leading offensives against GAM. Rights groups have for years demanded he be removed from Aceh.



He declined to confirm whether Damiri was still in Aceh, but merely said “many retired generals” had come to help.

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