By Harry Glass
The assault by the Indonesian army in Aceh has led to extensive civilian casualties and human rights violations.
Reports in the Australian socialist paper Green Left Weekly (GLW) say that more than 23,000 people have fled their homes. The main hospital in the provincial capital Banda Aceh reports receiving dead bodies that show signs of beatings and torture. Amnesty International announced that grave human rights abuses, including the extra-judicial killing of children and other civilians, are widespread.
GLW says there are food shortages, health services have collapsed, inter-city transport is paralysed, telecommunication and electricity services have been disrupted, public buildings destroyed and some 300 schools burned to the ground.
Even the UN is warning that the military incursion into Aceh is a massive humanitarian disaster in the making. The UN Children's Fund estimates that 300,000 people could be displaced in the next three months.
The Independent reported that journalists are being prevented from entering villages where military atrocities have taken place. Journalists have been threatened for trying to report on the assault. Human rights workers and NGOs have been told by the military that their safety 'cannot be guaranteed', and 'reminded' of atrocities committed by the military in East Timor in 1999.
The Guardian has also reported a military raid on a university in Banda Aceh. The army spent two hours smashing up the student union, arresting 15 students, who were accused of being members of Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Other students who witnessed the raid said that none of those arrested were connected to Aceh separatists.