On 24 September 2004 TNI troops of RAIDER 300 Unit arrested a civilian, Kasem Berdan, 75, resident of Paloh Seulimeng village, Jeunieb district. According to eyewitnesses, the TNI troops approached Mr. Berdan and asked him if he knew the whereabouts of GAM base in the area. He said he did not know. The TNI troops severely tortured him and until now his whereabouts are unknown.
On 25 September 2004, at 8:00 pm, TNI troops posted in Matang Geulumpang Dua town and in other places in Bireuen regency, conducted an operation in Alue Iet village shot dead a civilian, Soyan Hamid, 22, resident of Blang Dalam village. He refused to join the TNI embedded militias and the TNI accused him of being a member of GAM.
On 25 September 2004, at 00.10 local time, TNI troops arrested, at his home,a civilian, resident of Paya Karieng village, Suka Jaya, Sabang, Mr Muhammad Ibrahim 54. father of Astra Muhammad, operation commander of Acheh National Armed Forces in Sabang Province.
TNI troops took him to Police Resort Headquarters (Mapolres) in Sabang where they brutally tortured him during the detention. On Saturday, 25 September 2004 at 11:00 he was released and returned home. On Tuesday, 28 September 2004, when he was conducting the night watch in the village, he was arrested again and detained at Mapolres Sabang. The TNI/Polri personnel again inflicted severe torture on him.
On Thursday, 30 September 2004, police of Mapolres Sabang visited Mr. Ibrahims home to inform his wife that Mr. Ibrahim was seriously ill and was hospitalised at Sabang Hospital. His wife rushed to the hospital but found her husband had already died. His condition was very heartbreaking. His entire body bore wounds and injuries from various methods of torture. On his head and face there were wounds of beating by a hard object, his body was full of knife-cuts. It is believed he died several hours before his wife arrived. Now his family has taken his body. According to information collected from the people, there are, at present, 6 other prisoners accused of being GAM members or supporters being detained in Mapolres Sabang and continuously tortured severely.
Since May 2003, the government has arrested an estimated 2,000 alleged members or supporters of GAM. While membership in GAM is not a crime under Indonesian law, hundreds have been tried and convicted in Aceh, primarily on criminal charges of makar, which translates into English as treason or rebellion.
Torture and serious abuse of detainees in both military and police custody has long been routine practice in Aceh and much of the rest of Indonesia, particularly in conflict zones.
In November 2001, following Indonesias first report on its efforts to implement the United Nations Convention against Torture, the U.N. Committee against Torture expressed its concern about the large number of allegations of acts of torture and ill-treatment committed by the members of the police forces, especially the mobile police units (Brimob), the army (TNI), and paramilitary groups reportedly linked to authorities, and in areas of armed conflict (Aceh, Papua, Maluku, etc.).
The Committee also made recommendations on measures that should be taken by the Indonesian authorities to resolve this problem and to meet its obligations as a state party to the Convention against Torture. They included amending the penal legislation so that torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment are strictly prohibited under criminal law; establishing an effective, reliable, and independent complaint system to undertake prompt, impartial, and effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment and torture; reducing the length of pre-trial detention; ensuring adequate protection for witnesses and victims of torture; excluding any statement made under torture from consideration in any proceedings, except against the torturer; and inviting the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit Indonesia.34
To date none of these recommendations have been implemented. Human Rights Watch, September 2004