Rights Group in Aceh Demands Inquiry After Skeletons Found in Gunny Sacks

By webadmin on 11:05 pm Mar 31, 2010
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Nurdin Hasan

Banda Aceh. An activist from a leading Indonesian rights group on Wednesday called for a comprehensive investigation into the recent finding of sacks full of bones in an area formerly used as a police base during the decades of violent conflict in Aceh.

Four gunny sacks, each containing the bones of one individual, were found by a villagers in an area in Sungai Raya, East Aceh on Monday. The site, an abandoned warehouse belonging to woodworking company PT Wiralano, was used as an outpost by the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) paramilitary police for three years until 2005, when a peace pact ended the separatist conflict in Aceh.

“Many know that the area formerly used by PT Wiralano is one of the locations used for posts of the Brimob when Aceh was still under the military and civilian emergency status from 2003 until 2005 and feared by local residents,” said activist Hendra Fadli.

Hendra, a coordinator of the Aceh chapter of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said he believed the remains were those of victims of violence during the armed conflict.

A peace treaty signed in August 2005 between the government and the exiled leadership of the pro-independence Free Aceh Movement (GAM) ended almost three decades of violent separatist conflict in Aceh which had claimed more than 15,000 lives.

Hendra said that Acehnese have no tradition of burying their dead in gunny sacks and therefore an investigation was necessary to determine the cause of death of the four.

He said that according to Kontras records, at least 38 cases in which human remains were found have been registered since peace came in Aceh. The 38 cases involved the remains of 74 people.

“The many cases of human remains discovered only strengthen the suspicion that crimes against humanity had taken place during the military and civilian emergency period between 2003 and 2005,” he said.

The police have so far taken a passive stand and limited their action to monitoring the retrieval of the remains by local residents.