Canada presses Indonesia on Aceh ceasefire
8 January 2005
Canada on Friday pressed Indonesia to safeguard a ceasefire between its military and separatist rebels in the tsunami-stricken region of Aceh, as reports surfaced of fresh fighting.
Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said he had raised the fighting with Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirayuda in Jakarta on Wednesday, becoming the latest of several western political leaders to do so.
"I made it clear that Canada wants that ceasefire to be respected by all parties including the military and the independence movement," Pettigrew told reporters in a conference call from Phuket, Thailand.
His remarks followed a demand by human rights groups for the withdrawal of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) from emergency relief efforts in the area hammered by the Dec. 26 tragedy.
"It is completely unacceptable that the military is engaged in launching attacks against the civilian population and delivering relief aid at the same time," says Nancy Slamet, of the Canada-based KAIROS' International Human Rights Program.
A TNI spokesman admitted last week that despite the disaster an offensive against the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) was continuing, in the region, which saw at least 100,000 people killed in the tsunami tragedy.
But Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Thursday repeated a call to separatist rebels in the tsunami-hit province of Aceh to end the conflict.
An AFP reporter in Aceh said Thursday that clashes broke out between soldiers and rebels in Lhok Nga, near a beach still littered with debris from the tragedy.