Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

Indonesia: Update to IDN43291.E of 7 January 2005, IDN43304.E of 13 January 2005 and IDN43329.E of 20 January 2005 on the impact of the 26 December 2004 earthquake and tsunami on the human rights situation, particularly in Aceh province

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 27 January 2005
Citation / Document Symbol IDN43347.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Indonesia: Update to IDN43291.E of 7 January 2005, IDN43304.E of 13 January 2005 and IDN43329.E of 20 January 2005 on the impact of the 26 December 2004 earthquake and tsunami on the human rights situation, particularly in Aceh province , 27 January 2005, IDN43347.E , available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Security Situation in Aceh

The Indonesian government announced that talks between it and rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) would take place in Helsinki, Finland, and be mediated by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari (AFP 26 Jan. 2005a; Reuters 25 Jan. 2005). The former president is a member of the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a Finnish non-governmental organization (AFP 25 Jan. 2005). The Indonesian delegation, comprised of the chief security minister, the justice minister, a former military commander in Aceh, and the information minister, was to leave for Helsinki on 26 January 2005 (AFP 26 Jan. 2005a). But while the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, stated that "special autonomy" for Aceh province and amnesty for rebels who put down their arms may be discussed (Reuters 24 Jan. 2005; see also AFP 26 Jan. 2005a), the rebels insisted their ultimate goal remained independence for the province (Reuters 25 Jan. 2005). According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), there were indications that the talks would merely "formalize" the post-tsunami ceasefire, rather than solve the decades-long conflict outright (26 Jan. 2005a).

Meanwhile, Indonesia's president expressed his country's wish for a stronger military, commenting that better-equipped armed forces could have "'done a lot more'" for the humanitarian effort following the 26 December 2004 earthquake and tsunami (AFP 26 Jan. 2005b). He also said that stronger forces might have been in a better position to pursue GAM rebels (ibid.).

The Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) claimed to have killed more than 200 rebels in the four weeks since 26 December 2004, stating they were forced to do so as rebels were stealing humanitarian aid (DPA 24 Jan. 2005). The GAM denied an earlier claim by the TNI that, over the course of two weeks, it had killed 120 rebels who were interfering with the relief effort, calling it "black propaganda" (BBC 20 Jan. 2005). The UN indicated it had not received reports of rebel attacks on aid convoys (DPA 24 Jan. 2005). A GAM spokesperson stated that only 20 rebels had been killed by the Indonesian military following the tsunami and that the remaining 100 casualties were civilians (CNN 21 Jan. 2005). According to a report from the BBC, it was not possible to verify the military's claims "'but the figure seems high, given that there have been no reports of major battles since the earthquake and tsunami struck – only occasional skirmishes" (20 Jan. 2005).

There were witness reports of gunfire outside a refugee camp sheltering about 200 people 32 kilometres outside of Banda Aceh; no one was injured in the incident (AP 20 Jan. 2005). According to AP, neither rebels nor soldiers of the TNI were seen near the camp at the time of the incident and the shots did not appear to have been directed at the refugees (ibid.).

The Distribution of Aid in Aceh

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Aceh, Joel Boutroue, stated that the TNI should eventually withdraw from the relief effort in the province and hand over the task to "'the civilian authority'" (AP 24 Jan. 2005; DPA 24 Jan. 2005). Other aid groups are preparing to take on a greater share of humanitarian operations as foreign troops, including the United States military, begin to pull out of Aceh (AP 23 Jan. 2005). There were also indications that many survivors were leaving temporary relief camps to return to their villages or move in with relatives (ibid. 24 Jan. 2005). The Indonesian government said it expected survivors to remain in the camps for the next 18 months while homes for 100,000 people are built on about 50 different sites across the province (ibid.).

Indonesian officials also began responding to concerns about the distribution of international financial aid in the aftermath of the tsunami, pledging to prevent corruption (AFP 22 Jan. 2005; see also AP 26 Jan. 2005). A new agency, the Authority Board for Aceh, will reportedly be set up to oversee the distribution of aid (AFP 22 Jan. 2005; see also AP 26 Jan. 2005), and an international accounting agency, Ernst & Young, has been hired to track the funds (ibid.). Transparency International, which prepares the yearly Corruption Perceptions Index, lists Indonesia among the most corrupt states in the world (AP 26 Jan. 2005). According to AP, Aceh, which has been under the control of the Indonesian military, is widely considered the country's most corrupt province (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France-Presse (AFP). 26 January 2005a. Ahmad Pathoni. "Indonesian Ministers Head to Finland for Talks with Aceh Rebels." [Accessed 26 Jan. 2005]
_____. 26 January 2005b. "Indonesia's President Wants Stronger Post-Tsunami Military." [Accessed 26 Jan. 2005]
_____. 25 January 2005. "Aceh Rebel Commanders Says (sic) Indonesia Not Serious about Peace Talks." [Accessed 26 Jan. 2005]
_____. 22 January 2005. Bhimanto Suwastoyo. "Indonesia Ramps up Peace, Anti-Corruption Efforts in Tsunami-Hit Aceh." [Accessed 24 Jan. 2005]

Associated Press (AP). 26 January 2005. Slobodan Lekic. "Critics See Potential for Massive Theft of International Reconstruction Aid to Indonesia." (Dialog)
_____. 24 January 2005. Michael Casey. "United Nations Reports 75 Percent Drop in Number of Refugee Camps in Tsunami-Hit Indonesia." (Dialog)
_____. 23 January 2005. Michael Casey. "Civilian Groups Likely to Soon Take Over Aceh Aid Efforts from Foreign Troops." (Dialog)
_____. 20 January 2005. Lely T. Djuhari. "Witnesses: Gunfire Heard Near Indonesian Tsunami Refugee Camp." (Dialog)

BBC. 20 January 2005. Rachel Harvey. "Indonesia Says Aceh Rebels Killed." [Accessed 20 Jan. 2005]

CNN. 21 January 2005. "Aid Groups Warn on U.S. Pullout." [Accessed 21 Jan. 2005]

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 24 January 2005. "UN Says Indonesian Armed Forces Should be Phased Out of Aceh Relief." (Dialog)

Reuters. 25 January 2005. Achmad Sukarsono. "Indonesia Sends Top Team for Aceh Rebel Talks – Source." [Accessed 26 Jan. 2005]
_____. 24 January 2005. Tomi Soetjipto and Dean Yates. "Indonesia, Rebels to Talk Peace; New Quake Kills One." [Accessed 24 Jan. 2005]

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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