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Nasrullah Tahlawi, United People of Aceh
"Ninety five percent wish to have a free state"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 14 November, 2000, 15:27 GMT
Aceh calls for 'Timor-style' vote
Aceh rally in November
At least 30 people were killed during a recent Aceh rally
Tens of thousands of people have taken part in an independence rally in the Indonesian province of Aceh.

A meeting of separatist leaders at the gathering approved a declaration calling for an East Timor-style referendum on independence.


The protest in the provincial capital Banda Aceh was attended by about 50,000 people.

It came just days after another mass rally in the town which left at least 30 dead after police opened fire on demonstrators.

The declaration agreed by the independence leaders on Tuesday also demanded:

  • The withdrawal of all Indonesian security forces from the province.
  • The acceptance by Jakarta of responsibility for military atrocities in the province.
  • Intervention and mediation by the UN and other foreign countries.

Separatist leaders called on the people of Aceh to stage a week-long strike from 27 November if the demands were not implemented.

Police

Meanwhile, police have urged the government to call off the current ceasefire with the Aceh rebels.

Gunman, Aceh
The rebels are pulling out of peace talks
Police spokesman Brigadier General Saleh Saaf told a press conference the police were fed up and wanted a free hand to launch a crackdown on the rebels.

He accused the separatist Free Aceh Movement of abusing the truce which it signed with the government in the summer.

"We are running out of patience. We have done our part to obey the humanitarian pause [truce], but they continued to attack police and soldiers, even when they were praying," he said.

General Saaf said 75 soldiers, 108 policemen, and 660 civilians had been killed and hundreds of others wounded in separatist violence since August 1998.

Shootings

Rebel leaders said earlier this week they were pulling out of peace talks with the government in protest at escalating violence by the security forces.

The separatist conflict, which has been raging since 1975, has left thousands dead.

Last week, tens of thousands of people took part in a two-day rally in Banda Aceh to call for independence.

Eyewitnesses and human rights groups said police and troops opened fire on civilians trying to reach the town.

Independence activists said at least 50 people were killed, while police put the figure at 30.

Security forces said they had been defending themselves from attack.

Correspondents said police and troops stayed away from Tuesday's protest in Banda Aceh.

However, the organisers said roadblocks were put up outside the city and people travelling to the demonstration were turned back.

Reports said the crowds dispersed peacefully after the rally.

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See also:

10 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Violence feared at Aceh rally
25 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia needs Aceh
13 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's fragile archipelago
05 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Aceh rebels fingered over Jakarta blasts
25 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Aceh truce extended
08 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Acehnese demand independence
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