1. Government restricts foreigners in Aceh
Indonesia yesterday began restricting the movements of the 2,000 foreigners helping the tsunami relief operation in Aceh, ordering aid groups and journalists to register, seek permission before leaving the province's two main towns, and only travel with a military escort.
2. The move was announced on Tuesday by Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, who said security forces could not guarantee the safety of foreign aid workers from separatist rebels in the province.
However, aid agencies downplay TNI restrictions
"The cooperation with the government of Indonesia remains, I think, excellent," said Kevin Kennedy from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "In no way has it impacted or diminished our ability to move about or to access populations."
3. These restrictions were put in place because of a shooting outside the UN complex in Banda Aceh on Sunday. Military and police officials had claimed the outlawed Free Aceh Movement (GAM) was responsible for the shots fired early Sunday near the United Nations relief compound in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.
But Alwi Shihab, Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare, said a distressed Indonesian soldier fired the shots and had subsequently been detained. "I have a report from the military that a soldier was in a stressful condition and opened fire. GAM was not involved in this."
4. PKS Wants Foreign Troops Removed
The Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has demonstrated the extent of its compassion for the suffering survivors of the Aceh tsunamis by demanding that foreign military personnel assisting with relief operations leave the province within a month.
5. Xenophobia thicker than humanity?
A major radio station in Jakarta invited its listeners to comment on the Indonesian Military's (TNI) decision The answers given by the listeners have likely upset the government, especially the TNI's top brass, because most listeners were not only opposed to the TNI's decision, but also questioned the real motives of the TNI. Such a reaction reflects the high suspicion that remains toward the military, who for decades were a tool of oppression.
6. Military Expels Some Mujahidin From Aceh
The radical Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) says 19 of its 206 members conducting "relief work" and giving "spiritual guidance" in Aceh have been expelled by the Indonesian Air Force.
The Air Force are generally recognized to be the least repressive branch of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).
7. Aceh rebels call for ceasefire talks with Indonesia
Rebels fighting for independence in the tsunami-hit Indonesian province of Aceh have called for ceasefire talks with the government to ensure the safety of disaster-relief workers.
"We are prepared to meet with (Indonesia) to agree the optimum modalities
(eh?) to ensure the success of the ceasefire and thereby minimise the suffering of the Acehnese people," the rebels' prime minister in exile Malik Mahmud said in the statement.
8. Good prospect of reconciliation with Aceh rebels.
Prospects of reconciliation between the Indonesian government and separatist rebels in tsunami-hit Aceh province are good, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said in an interview in Le Figaro published today.
"We are searching for a political settlement, contact has been established with their commanders and a 'gentlemen's agreement' has been reached after the catastrophe to improve security conditions in the province."
9. Aceh Governor Abdullah Puteh's corruption trial to continue
Puteh is accused of taking Rp9.1 billion from state budget funds allocated to Aceh's 13 regional and municipal administrations to pay for the chopper. He also allegedly embezzled Rp35 billion from routine expenditure and transferred Rp4 billion of Aceh's provincial budget to his personal bank account.
Puteh's lawyer Juan Felix Tampubolon said he would appeal the
(court's) ruling to continue the trial.
What most Indonesians believe is that the TNI are in favour of a continued 'war' with the "separatist rebels" because with a ceasefire they will lose their lucrative protection rackets. With a civilian population having a greater control over their own affairs and a major clampdown on corruption and gangsterism in the province, then there may be light at the end of the tsunami tunnel.
Oh, and Juan Felix Tampubolon is also the Suharto clan's leading lawyer.
I was quite disheartened to see last night
(Jan 4th) on the CBC TV's main news show, The National, a report from Indonesia showing the army there is feeding itself very well from the food being donated to the survivors of the tsunami. Camera shots showed it being stockpiled and withheld while people - people who were in a civil war zone involving the same soldiers before the flood - sat and looked at it. The reporter said just off camera soldiers were helping themselves. I have not seen this story covered anywhere on the web.
Tsunami Blogs I Should Have Listed
Wide perspective from Australia
An American Expat in S.E. Asia
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