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Mediator: Decrease in civilian killings BANDA ACEH - The killing of civilians has dropped sharply in Indonesia's Aceh province since the signing of a landmark peace accord between the central government and rebels, a Geneva-based organisation that brokered the deal said. The Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue said that in the four weeks since the agreement was signed, there had been 11 unconfirmed civilian deaths connected to the conflict. That compared to an average of 87 reported civilian killings a month for most of last year.
There has been widespread pessimism about whether the December 9 accord would hold despite international pressure on both sides to make it work, and end more than two decades of fighting that has killed at least 10,000 people. "Even one death is one too many and both sides regret those," David Gorman, a mediator and representative of the Henry Dunant Centre in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, said in a statement obtained by Reuters on Saturday.
"But it is a key indicator of the willingness by the sides to stop the killing and that the peace process is gaining momentum." While civilian deaths have dropped, the pact has been shaken by clashes between troops and rebels and accusations from both sides, including a rebel claim that soldiers killed up to 10 villagers soon after the pact was signed. The army has denied that charge, and it was unclear if the rebel claim was included in the unconfirmed deaths.
The statement said the unconfirmed civilian deaths since the pact were being investigated by a joint security committee, made up of representatives from the government, GAM and a third party. Many Acehnese, although mistrustful of promises from Jakarta, have welcomed the accord, saying they had begun to feel safer.
Underscoring how the war had spiralled out of control in recent years, the Henry Dunant Centre said that in the two years leading up to the signing, a total of 4,000 people -- civilians, government troops and rebels -- were killed in the conflict. Indonesia and the rebels signed the comprehensive pact in Switzerland after several failed ceasefires agreed since 2000.
Another problem for the accord has been rebel rejection of additional monitors from the Philippines to serve on the joint security committee along with representatives from Thailand. A number of Filipinos are already on the ground in Aceh. The rebels claim Manila is indebted to Jakarta, which helped broker peace talks in 1996 between the Philippine government and Muslim separatists, the Moro National Liberation Front. In Indonesia's other separatist hotspot, Papua in the remote east, a low-level guerrilla conflict has simmered for decades.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 04 January 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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