Issued by SEGERA: Solidarity with the Acehnese People Movement (SEGERA)

Saturday 15 January 2005

1. About taxing of assistance or humanitarian workers;

This information we received from one of our volunteers on 29th December, who is currently travelling from Tapak Tuan to Banda Aceh (it is best that their name is not disclosed). They witnessed that not only volunteers, but also the people that are attempting to enter Meulaboh, are being forced to pay a fee that is as high as we mentioned previously. This could be the work of rogue elements of the TNI, however what is certain is that they are not being coordinated or that the local
military command is deliberately doing nothing to stop them. The people are aware of this problem, but are too afraid to complain as they need to be able to get into Meulaboh in order to search for their family.

Regarding the illegal taxes on trucks carrying relief supplies, this is indeed not a new problem. We know for certain that since the introduction of the military emergency every vehicle that passes by a TNI post is stopped and forced to pay an indeterminate amount. Instances of relief supplies being blocked, which the military claims has been conducted by GAM, cannot yet be verified, mainly due to the fact that the military itself has done similar things since the beginning its operations in Aceh.

2. About TNI sale of assistance at Banda Aceh, Bireun and Meulaboh;

Yes. Many of our volunteers have seen this in the field, at Bandara Polonia and Blang Bintang Malikussaleh. This could also be the work of rogue elements of the TNI, however once again this cannot yet be investigated directly.

3. TNI theft of aid from Banda Aceh airport;

We are not yet prepared to verify this information, as it has been conveyed by word of mouth from volunteers who claim to have witnessed it first hand. These practices have not yet been investigated. Indeed, even journalists have so far only covered relief efforts and human tragedy
stories, and have failed to do any investigative reporting.

4. To this 12th day, there are still several islands that have not yet received any help. One of these is Simeuleu Island where 24.000 people are facing starvation.

5. There was an arrest of a person by the TNI who was suspected of being a native CIA operative, who has since been returned to their community in the area of Montasik, Banda Aceh, on 2 January. There are reports
that the village head in this area was also detained (their name is difficult to obtain), and news of this has upset refugees. These arrests are suspected as being due to the belief that the CIA has infiltrated into local neighbourhoods.

6. The ongoing uncertainty resulting from the disorderly nature of the government’s field coordination is presenting great difficulties for volunteers.

7. The frustration of the inhabitants of Banda Aceh regarding the slow and erratic handling of the post-earthquake situation is implicit in the scuffles and tensions breaking out in refugee camps. This is primarily
in relation to the uneven and slow assistance in the removal of corpses and provision of aid. However they are not brave enough to openly express their frustrations due to presence of large numbers of military, paramilitary police and intelligence operatives in the refugee camps. Even though it was the military that initially should have quickly coordinated relief efforts, locals witnessed that they were not
coordinated at all and did not mobilise sufficiently.

8. From various reports in the national media, the government (the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, Alwi Sihab) has consistently denied that there have been any delays, and that every area has received
equal distribution of aid. However, from the testimonies of people in a number of villages who have been interviewed by the media, the actual situation is the opposite. There are many villages far from Banda Aceh
that are still littered with corpses and have yet to receive assistance with coordinating refugees or relief (including the Simeuleu Island).

SEGERA contact details:

SEGERA (Solidaritas Gerakan Rakyat untuk Aceh)
Jl Tebet Barat Dalam VIII L no 2
Jakarta Selatan - Indonesia
Phone : 62-21-8309061
segera_aceh@yahoo.com

liaison in Australia:
Max Lane
max_lane@bigpond.com

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