South Asia tsunami information   |   Information on Aceh

Aceh ceasefire in doubt as rebels threaten bloodshed unless the Indonesian military agrees to stop action against them

12 January 2005

Rebels in Indonesia's tsunami-stricken province of Aceh have threatened to abandon their two-week-old ceasefire unless the Indonesian military agrees to stop action against them.

Sofyan Daud, a spokesman for the separatist army GAM, said the rebels had no choice but to go on the offensive if Indonesia did not agree to a ceasefire. "We asked the TNI [Indonesian military] to respect the ceasefire we offered on December 27," Mr Daud said through one of his aides.

"Now we just run away when they chase us. However, if they continue to chase us, we will go on the offensive and that would be trouble for the TNI and the humanitarian mission."

He would not say where or when the rebels might launch an attack, but any offensive would threaten the relief effort being mounted across Aceh's devastated northern and western coasts. Most of those killed in tsunami were in Aceh.

The head of the Indonesian military, Endriarton Sutarto, said yesterday he had contacted GAM in an attempt to broker a truce.

General Sutarto said he had offered a moratorium to rebels who agreed to lay down their arms and help with the aid effort.

"I appealed to them if they're saying that their armed activity is to help the people in Aceh ... they have to change their arms with other means, other tools and ... join us in conducting humanitarian activities," he said.

General Sutarto also warned rebels not "to rob or steal humanitarian aid". "If they need water, food or medicine we will provide for them."

General Sutarto said he would not arrest or punish any GAM member who agreed to the offer but would not say how long the moratorium would last.

"We'll see," he said.

GAM, which wants independence for Aceh, has not yet replied to the offer.

General Sutarto also briefed leaders of foreign forces helping with the relief operation on Indonesia's conditions for working in Aceh. He told them the maximum stay for aircraft and ships entering the province was 14 days and that liaison officers from the Indonesian military would be posted on board each one.

All foreigners were banned from travelling outside Banda Aceh and Meulaboh without military permission and foreign troops were banned from carrying arms.

The official in charge of Indonesia's aid mission, Budi Atmaji Aditputo, said plans had been completed to build 24 refugee camps, each big enough to house 20,000 people.

He said tents would be used until semi-permanent houses were completed over the next three months.

Matthew Moore and Karuni Rompies

Information on Aceh   |   Peace Movement Aotearoa