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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November 2003, 16:04 GMT
Eyewitness: Aceh martial law
Lesley McCulloch, who is conducting research on the Indonesian province of Aceh under martial law, has gathered the following testimonies from Acehnese villagers.

Ms McCulloch was unable to interview the villagers face-to-face, as she is banned from the province after being jailed by the Indonesian authorities earlier this year for alleged visa violations, following previous work in Aceh.

The first interviewee spoke to an Acehnese activist, who emailed the account to Ms McCulloch. The second spoke to Ms McCulloch by phone.

The Indonesian ambassador to the UK, interviewed by the BBC on Wednesday, admitted that the country's armed forces had on occasion been guilty of rights abuses.

"There will always be the occasional misuse of power by some of the police and the military and that works against us," Juwono Sudharsono said.

Rusli, 13, South Aceh. Interviewed 21 September

During the funeral, my mother fainted many times

"The military came and they took my father... my mother and three sisters were screaming. The military were angry but I don't know why. They took him to the fields just behind our house and we could hear him shout in terror 'god have mercy - I am not Gam (Free Aceh Movement)!'

"After a while the military came back to the truck that was at our house and left. My father didn't come back and we were all too afraid to go to the field to see where he was. My older sister went to a neighbour and begged that man to search for our father.

"When the man came back from the field he was pale and shaking - he told us not to go, but that my father would not be coming home. I don't know what happened to him, nobody told us.

"During the funeral, my mother fainted many times. Now I am head of this house, I must look after my mother and sisters. It makes no difference because I don't go to school - the village school was burned by the military in May."

Mulyani, village in North Aceh. Interviewed 10 November.

"In July members of TNI (Indonesian armed forces) came to the village and told everyone we had to leave to go to a camp not far from here. They said we would stay there not more than one week while they searched for members of Gam.

The police and military told us that gangs of thieves were roaming and that the military was too busy chasing Gam to worry about the other

"The conditions at the camp were not so terrible. We slept in tents - each family had its own tent and we could cook our own food. But after one week they said the operation against Gam was continuing and that we must stay longer.

"Finally, in the second week of September we were allowed home. But when I got to my house, everything had been taken. All that was left were some clothes and cooking pans. Everything else, my TV, my glass cabinet and spring bed, some special family things and jewellery had all been taken.

"My neighbours all found the same - we tried to complain but the police and military told us that gangs of thieves were roaming and that the military was too busy chasing Gam to worry about the other.

"Now I have almost nothing, but I thank god my family is safe and that my house is not burned."


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