Indonesia: December 31, 2003

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 The war in Aceh continues, with up to a dozen people killed a day. So far, over 2,000 have been arrested as suspected rebels and 1,200 rebels have been killed. At least 300 civilians have died. The separatists rebels show no sign of giving up. But the rebels have not helped their cause by accusing reporters of being spies, and holding a television crew hostage for over six months (one member of the crew was killed in a shootout with police on the 29th.) The Aceh separatists are seen by most other Indonesians as greedy and only wanting to keep all the oil and natural gas wealth located in Aceh for themselves. National unity is also a big thing to many Indonesians. Until the Dutch came along in the 17th century, what is now Indonesia had always been a collection of independent, and often warring, states. When the Dutch left half a century ago, there was a united Indonesia, and many Indonesian's want to keep it that way. But unless the government can come up with a deal that will appeal to most of the Aceh population, the war will go on and on and on.

Meanwhile, the United States has paid for the training of a 300 man anti-terrorism police unit. Using retired American Special Forces and police as trainers, the Indonesians were taught the latest techniques for raiding and investigation of terrorist incidents. There is some danger that the anti-terror squad will be misused to attack political enemies of those in power. At that point, of course, the US will be accused of "training Indonesian death squads." No good deed goes unpunished, as the US Army Special Forces discovered earlier when they trained Indonesian commandos and later reporting ignored the efforts to make the Indonesians aware of human rights.

 

 

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