Aceh’s Ex-Governor Irwandi Fears for Safety After Assault
Former Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf has expressed disappointment in the slow progress of an investigation into a recent attack on him, saying he planned to move temporarily to Malaysia for his safety.
Irwandi was attacked on Monday after attending the inauguration of new Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah, allegedly by Zaini’s supporters. The police have so far arrested only one person, on Thursday, in connection with the assault.
Insp. Gen. Iskandar Hasan, the provincial police chief, identified the suspect only as a 47-year-old man.
He said that after questioning him, the police concluded the attack was spontaneous and had not been planned by members of Zaini’s Aceh Party.
“Iskandar issued a press statement that basically said the probe into the attack has effectively ended because they have arrested this person,” Irwandi wrote in an open letter on Friday. “According to the police, the suspect was a member of the public. This is unacceptable.”
Irwandi said the attack was perpetrated by members of Zaini’s Aceh Party (PA), the political reincarnation of the former separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
“I was surrounded and attacked by a group of PA supporters, some dressed in PA security uniforms,” he said in the statement. “I was beaten in the face and head for several minutes.”
PA officials did not live up to promises to protect him at the event, he said.
“Ahead of the inauguration, intelligence officers had specifically asked [deputy governor] Muzakir Manaf whether my safety could be guaranteed if I accepted the invitation to attend the event,” he said. “Muzakir Manaf’s response was that my safety would be guaranteed.”
Irwandi directed his disappointment at both the police and the Aceh Party.
“Several incidents of violence, including two assassination attempts against me, have been investigated by the special anti-terror forces [Densus 88], and perpetrators were found to be members of the PA,” he said. “These findings have yet to be followed up by prosecution.”
Irwandi criticized Iskandar for siding with the PA since the start of this year’s gubernatorial election, adding that the police had turned a blind eye to reports of violence against his campaign team.
After the signing of a peace accord with the Indonesian government, Irwandi, a former member of GAM, rose to the office of governor in 2007 on an independent platform, a fact he says the PA manipulated to win the election this time around.
“[The assault] was the direct result of political tactics that were used by the PA during the election period, when PA leaders called me a traitor,” he said. “Even after winning the election, this statement was not withdrawn, and has led to the perception that I have betrayed GAM.”
The National Police are also investigating the incident and have identified the suspect only by the initial M.
National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said on Thursday that the motive for the assault was not immediately clear and that M. had been arrested based on witness testimony.
Additional reporting by Arientha Primanita & Nurdin Hasan