Sunday, February 20, 2005

ACEH - military stealing relief aid?

Laksamana.Net reports that an anti-corruption activist was beaten up by the military and then accused of stealing relief aid in Aceh.

Government Watch coordinator Farid Faqih, who was also working for the United Nation’s World Food Program, was savagely beaten before being handed over to police and locked up.

Faqih has been highly critical of the notoriously corrupt military’s handling of relief aid in Aceh. He has also accused government officials of exaggerating the numbers of people living in refugee camps in order to collect and embezzle more aid.

Local media reports have identified Faqih’s main attacker as Army Captain Syuib Mahmud.

Initial reports had said three FPI members (paramilitaries) were caught stealing a truckload of aid and then claimed to be acting on behalf of Faqih, who was subsequently tracked down, attacked and arrested. FPI, notorious for its violent attacks on bars and nightclubs, is widely regarded as an 'Islamic' paramilitary tool of certain military officers seeking to exert political and business influence.

Aid workers say much of the assistance in the province is being misused by crooked officials and squandered by incompetent non-government organizations.

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