NEWS RELEASE — For Immediate Release: Montreal: January 6, 2005

Canadian Coalition Demands Demilitarization of Aid in Aceh, as Indonesian Military Continues Attacks

Saturday 15 January 2005

(Montreal) - An ad hoc coalition of major Canadian civil society and aid organizations is demanding that the Indonesian government immediately cease all non-aid related military operations in Aceh in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster. The organizations condemn the Indonesian military’s failure to adhere to a ceasefire in Aceh province and its role in hindering the delivery of emergency aid.

The coalition includes KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Rights and Democracy, Alternatives and other groups working on human rights and development issues in Indonesia. The demand came on the eve of today’s major summit in Jakarta where senior government officials of donor and tsunami affected countries are discussing relief efforts.

In a letter sent yesterday (January, 5th) to the federal ministers responsible for Canada’s response to the tsunami disaster, the coalition asserts that the Indonesian army’s leading role in delivering aid is compromising the welfare of the Acehnese people.

“It is completely unacceptable that the military is engaged in launching attacks against the civilian population and delivering relief aid at the same time,” says Nancy Slamet, Coordinator of KAIROS’ International Human Rights Program in Asia who recently traveled to Sumatra.

Despite assurances by Indonesian military chief General Endriartono Sutarto of a ceasefire in Aceh province, the military headquarters general information department has announced the army will continue to launch raids into suspected rebel areas as part of its on-going “security” operations.

“This prevents many tsunami victims from receiving help because they are afraid of being suspected as separatists,” says Alex Hill, Indonesia Program Officer for Alternatives. “Moreover, the Indonesian military is afraid to allow international aid organizations and journalists free access to the region because the military has been engaged in a dirty war there for many years”.

From May 2003 until the tsunami disaster, Indonesia prohibited international journalists and aid organizations from having any access to Aceh.

The coalition is also calling on the Canadian government to:

• press Indonesian authorities to allow unrestricted access to the entire province by international and Indonesian civil society organizations and journalists;

• deliver all Canadian government aid as directly as possible to the affected population, with a priority to civil society organizations; and

• demand the demilitarization of Aceh, under a negotiated peace agreement.

The coalition also includes the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace; Pacific People’s Partnership; Canadians Concerned About Ethnic Violence in Indonesia (CCEVI); West Papua Action Network (WESPAN); Canadian Action for Indonesia and East Timor; Green Lotus International and Mining Watch Canada.

- 30 -

For further information and copies of the letter contact:

France-Isabelle Langlois, Communications Coordinator
Alternatives
Telephone: (514) 577-0942
E-mail: fisabelle@alternatives.ca
www.alternatives.ca

Adiat Junaid, Communications Coordinator
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Telephone: (416) 463 5312, ext. 223
E-mail: ajunaid@kairoscanada.org
www.kairoscanada.org

Louis Moubarak, title, or Steve Smith, title
Rights and Democracy/Droits et démocratie
Montreal, Quebec
Tel: (514) 283 6073
Email: lmoubarak@dd-rd.ca or ssmith@dd-rd.ca

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