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a time for fear
Thursday, July 03, 2003  
Things are happening fast in Aceh now. I come back from Wales to 38 emails relating to Indonesia's suppresion in the region, that's just under ten a day, an average of three articles/reports per mail (I have busy sources). Not that you'd know any of this from reading the British press, which isn't surprising considering the heavy reporting restrictions now in place, and...well, it's an awkward one. (Respect to Paul Barber and Rizali Pidie for getting this stuff out.) So...


Indonesian army chiefs are claiming that Aceh is now 100% under military control, and GAM is down to 500-600 fighters from an initial 5000. However fighting prevails, and is actually spreading into the cities, with reports in the last day of grenades being thrown through office windows and a bomb defused in a hospital ward. Numerous stories of extra-judicial killings and torture continue to materialise, three soldiers had their knuckles rapped for rape offences and a military commander said "sorry about that" but this seems to be the tip of a brutal 'berg. More than 25, 000 villagers have fled their homes since the fighting began, and now reside in hastily erected refugee camps. Food supplies are running low, public services are seriously effected. Exxonmobile have got into the spirit of things by giving 1000 Aceh workers the sack (war provides a nice opportunity for a clearout, it seems). Meanwhile, it turns out that UK arms exports to Indonesia have risen twentyfold in the last two years, from £2 million to £40 million. British products include: training aircraft, tanks, rocket launchers, armoured personnel carriers. (And this is not to mention all the hardware being poured into the barely difused India-Pakistan conflict.) So at least we're getting something out of all this chaos and destruction.

Troops and police are now involved in what is basically an all-out assault to wipe GAM off the face of the earth, and erase their influence from the province completely, by executions, torture and displacement. Real subtle tactics. Great for the region. Soon it'll be: "we hope to regenerate tourism in Aceh, yes, that's right, as it slowly gets back on its feet we wish to help it in a process of rehabilitation". Great beaches! Great gas fields! Great mass graves! Come to Aceh!

12:15 AM

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