Friday, March 28, 2014

Activists Declare ‘State of Emergency’ in Election Violence-Wracked Aceh

Aceh Party supporters rally in Banda Aceh on March 24, 2014. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

Banda Aceh. Escalating political tension and rampant violence in Aceh in the run-up to next month’s the legislative election have prompted activists to declare an emergency in the province.

Several nongovernmental organizations, united under the Democratic Forum, have expressed concern over the unabating violence in Aceh, which seems to be related to the upcoming election.

The Aceh Democratic Forum recorded at least 36 cases of violence during the official campaign period so far, including shootings, terror acts using grenades, assault and the destruction of political parties’ offices.

The Aceh Party was founded by former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) members after a peace treaty between the rebels and the Indonesian government was signed in Helsinki, Finland, in 2005 to end the decades-long bloody conflict that killed more than 25,000 civilians in the province.

As part of the peace treaty, the province of Aceh was permitted to implement a form of Shariah, or Islamic law.

Last week Aceh Police charged 21 members and supporters of the Aceh Party over a string of attacks on rival political parties.

The police initially arrested 50 people in connection with a spate of attacks targeting members of the Aceh National Party (PNA) in Banda Masen Village, in Lhokseumawe district.


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