Aceh Legislative Council Requests a Role in the Reestablishment of the Iskandar Muda Military District

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  • TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:The proposal to reestablish the office of the Iskandar Muda Military District Regional Military Command (Kodam)in Aceh has led to heated debate. The Provincial Legislative Council of Aceh Nanggroe Darussalam has so far not received any reports about such plans from the central government. “Even though the central government has authority in this matter, they should at least explain these plans to us,” Mukhlis Mukhtar, chairman of Commission A, told Tempo News Room by phone on Thursday night (10/1). Mukhlis said the central government should uphold political ethics by inviting the local government and legislative council to involve themselves in this plan. “I only heard about this from a news report,” he said. Last week, Governor Abdullah Puteh, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Minister of Defense Matori Abdul Djalil announced plans to reestablish the Iskandar Muda Military District. Yudhoyono said such a move was intended to increase the efficiency of the Indonesian Military (TNI) in handling the restive region of Aceh. Some NGOs, including the Indonesian Legal Aid & Human Rights Association (PBHI) and the Commission for Missing Persons & Victims of Violence (Kontras), have rejected this plan. They said that such plans to involve the TNI in achieving greater security is a reminder of the brutal methods applied during the New Order period of goverment. The Iskandar Muda Military District was disbanded in 1983 when Aceh came under the Bukit Barisan Military District of North Sumatra. Jakarta decided to make Aceh a Military Operation Area (DOM)in 1989, sending in the Special Forces. The DOM period was marked by widespread violence in Aceh. For this reason, it is difficult for the Acehnese to forget such traumatic experiences. (Bagja Hidayat)