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Int'l community pressures Indonesia to solve rights activist murder

JAKARTA, Indonesia (Reuters) -- Indonesia, already facing international attack for this week's killing of U.N. workers in West Timor, was pressed on Thursday to solve another murder -- that of a human rights activist in the troubled province of Aceh.

The trussed and tortured body of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah was found earlier this week in Aceh in the north of the island of Sumatra where separatist rebels have long battled Indonesian rule.

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"It is crucial now that the government redouble its efforts to find and bring to justice those responsible for the murder of Mr Hamzah and the four others found with him," the United States Embassy said in a statement.

Hamzah, a New York resident, disappeared in early August during a trip to Medan city, the capital of the neighbouring province to Aceh.

A number of activists and pro-rebel supporters have disappeared from Medan in the past.

"We find it odd that so many high-profile people can vanish or be killed, particularly in Medan...and yet police have not been able to make a single arrest. It would seem to indicate incompetence or complicity of the security forces," the Asia director of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, Sidney Jones, said in a statement.

Thousands have been killed in Aceh in the past 10 years, mostly during the 1990s when then autocratic ruler Suharto put the rebellious province under military control.

The current president, Abdurrahman Wahid, has tried with some success to calm the staunchly-Islamic region and has proposed extending a ceasefire with rebels.

The killing adds to the international pressure Indonesia -- which relies heavily on foreign aid -- is coming under over human rights abuses within its borders.

Earlier this week, three United Nations international staff were killed by pro-Jakarta militias in the refugee town of Atambua in West Timor.

Those murders overshadowed the start of a United Nations summit being attended by Wahid and brought sharp rebukes from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

ASIANOW


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U.N. says thousands attack its offices in West Timor
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United Nations relief agency suspends West Timor aid after attacks
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United Nations, East Timor leaders negotiate rebels' fate
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February 25, 2000
Security concerns on the road to East Timor's reconstruction
February 24, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Political Resources on the Net - East Timor
East Timor Today
United Nations
  • U.N. High Commisioner for Refugees
  • U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor
East Timor Action Network U.S.
CIA World Factbook: Indonesia
Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights
PEMDA DKI Homepage

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