RealNews

Indonesia's Secret War

The guerrilla war in the Indonesian province of Aceh has raged on and off for more than 25 years, but it has now gone underground. In May, the government broke off peace talks, declared martial law and sent in 40,000 troops. Since then, Aceh has been virtually sealed off. Foreign journalists, human rights groups and diplomats cannot enter. For months, the government even barred groups like Unicef and the World Food Program, which provide relief to besieged civilians. Indonesian journalists can travel in Aceh, but intimidation from the military and political pressures have kept them from reporting more than official pronouncements. Local human rights groups, harassed by soldiers, have gone into hiding. Indonesian officials claim that they bar foreigners for their own security. Indeed, in the past, some have been kidnapped by the guerrillas, the Free Aceh Movement. But the dangers of Aceh come overwhelmingly from the army and the paramilitary police. Even when plenty of watchdogs were present, Aceh was a killing field, with a murder or kidnapping reported every day, and probably an equal number going unreported. Eighty to 90 percent of those crimes were committed by government forces. Lesser crimes were also rampant, as soldiers supplemented their low pay through looting and extortion. Full Story

OODA Analyst

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