Indonesia: June 2, 2003


As Indonesia's biggest military offensive in a quarter-century entered its third week, the armed forces chief reported that his units were making faster progress than expected. They also claimed that over 100 GAM rebels have been killed but declined to give further figures, while dismissing civilian casualties that were "only about 20 or so and they are mostly people deemed to be collaborators of the military."

The government has accused the rebels of a series of bombings in Jakarta and the Sumatran city of Medan over the last few years, but GAM has always denied involvement in operations outside Aceh province. Meanwhile, a court martial was set for the 3rd to start hearing the case of six soldiers accused of mistreating three villagers at Lawang in Bireuen district on May 27. 

But more and more, the Indonesian government has been acting like the villain out of a cheesy Hollywood movie. Indonesia summoned the Swedish ambassador to express disappointment at his country's response to a demand for action against the exiled rebel leaders. The summons came as the Swedish embassy in Jakarta said it had received a "specific threat" that forced the closure of the mission.

Indonesia also plans to send a team of officials to Sweden this week to persuade it to clamp down on exiled rebel leaders and promised to present "concrete evidence of the involvement of Hasan Tiro and colleagues, who are Swedish citizens, in crimes against the security of Indonesia and acts of terrorism". GAM's founder has lived in Sweden since 1979 and, like some other exiled top GAM leaders, has acquired Swedish citizenship. - Adam Geibel




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