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Date Reported: Wednesday, February 09, 2000
Incident Type: SECURITY

Incident: The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and the Indonesian media have reported the murders of at least two activists in Aceh, and the disappearance of a witness to alleged military atrocities in the beleaguered province.

The current issue of Jakarta Tempo discloses that Sukardi (one name only) was murdered around February 1 in Aceh. The victim, a graduate engineer, was an activist in the Lembaga Swadaya Masyarakat (LSM - Societal Self-Help Institute) and the Yayasan Rumpun Bambu Indonesia (YRBI Indonesian Bamboo Stool Foundation) in Aceh. On January 31, the evening before his death, Sukardi gave a lift to an office colleague from YRBI to the village of Lhok Pawoh. He was to return an hour later, pick up his colleague once again and take him to another village. Instead, Sukardi did not return for his rendezvous. According to several witnesses, he was last seen in a semi-rural area on the way back to the YRBI when he was abducted by unknown men. His friends at YRBI, upon his failure to return, began inquiries and initiated a search, which was quickly called off because of darkness and rain.

At 6 AM on February 1, the YRBI office was notified by two different individuals that a corpse had been found in the village of Kuta Blang, about 8 kms. away. The murder victim was clad only in his underwear, and was about 10 meters from the highway. YRBI colleagues later identified the corpse as Sukardi. He had been badly beaten, his right wrist was broken, the nerves on two fingers were exposed, and his thorax bore three gunshot wounds fired from the rear. Sukardi's friends from the LSM and YRBI buried him later that day, in accordance with Islamic custom.

In another incident reported by the media and the US Embassy, Acehnese human rights activist and parliamentarian Tengku Nashiruddin Daud was murdered on the evening of January 24. Daud was staying at the Aceh provincial guest house in Medan, northern Sumatra, when he received a phone call, and left the premises in a taxi. He did not return to the guest house. His body, with a nylon cord twisted tightly about the neck, was found the next morning in the vicinity of Deliserdang, 40 kms. south of Medan.

In a third mysterious incident, a Lt. Col. Sudjono was reported to have disappeared. Sudjono was to be a key witness in the court cases being prepared against several high-ranking Indonesian military officers for human rights violations in Aceh. According to Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, Sudjono was to be not only a witness, but was a suspect himself.

(RISC Comment: Sudjono may have tried to plea bargain, or turn state's evidence, and was detected doing so, by his military colleagues, and disposed of. It is unlikely he will be found alive.)

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