Monday, August 15, 2005

How Many Weapons Did the Aceh GAM Have?: The Pathetic Pretense for Indonesian Terror

With the release today of the final Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Indonesia and GAM the fact has now been revealed that the GAM -- the pretense for TNI - POLRI's massive terror in Aceh -- has all of 840 weapons, barely enough to fill one big truck. At least that's the figure they declare in the document, and though the tally may not be totally honest, people familiar with GAM say that it cannot be that far from the truth.

The MOU also says that TNI - POLRI will for the moment openly keep 23,800 troops in Aceh, half or more of what they have now, and a figure roughly equivalent to their troop levels during many recent years. This gives the lie to the widely reported claim in recent weeks that TNI - POLRI would be pulling out, and heightens the question of their rationale for being there at all once the GAM has fully disarmed.

In any event, the troop numbers aren't that crucial, what matters is who's in control (the Indonesian government and TNI - POLRI) and what their policy is (no free speech, repression). As one local human rights monitor put when discussing the MOU clause that temporarily limits troop movements to one platoon (about 100 men in the TNI system): "it only takes one platoon to do a massacre or to start a riot."

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