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Aceh separatist rebel refuses dialogue.

JAKARTA, March 17 Kyodo A prominent separatist movement leader in exile has refused to come to the troubled Indonesian province Aceh next week for a dialogue with President B.J. Habibie, saying he is unsure of his safety, a leading newspaper said Wednesday. Kompas quoted an e-mail message sent from the headquarters of the Aceh Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF) based in Norsborg, Sweden, as saying Hasan Tiro, leader of the Free Aceh Movement, will not participate in the dialogue between people in Aceh and Habibie. The dialogue is to take place at the Baiturrahman Mosque in Banda Aceh on March 26. Husaini Hasan, minister of education and information for the movement, said in the message that Aceh is not a neutral enough place to hold a meeting. ''Such a dialogue must be held under the supervision of the United Nations,'' Hasan said, adding Tiro is worried he will be arrested if he comes, despite a safety guarantee from Armed Forces Commander Gen. Wiranto. Tiro, 82, who lives in Sweden, is ''state leader'' of the Free Aceh State, proclaimed in the village of Tiro in Aceh on Dec. 4, 1976. Habibie will visit Indonesia's northernmost province in a bid to accelerate efforts to restore social and political security there and to heal the psychological wounds caused by military operations between 1989 and 1998. Government troops were deployed in Aceh in 1989 to wage an offensive against the Muslim-affiliated separatist movement, which accuses Jakarta of taking the province's rich supplies of oil, copper, pepper and natural gas. According to official figures, 1,021 people were killed, 864 people remain missing and 680 houses were burned down since the armed forces declared Aceh a site of military operations in 1989. Wiranto ended the military operations last year, but violence by the military still occurs and unrest has increased since December when seven off-duty soldiers and a marine officer on patrol were ambushed in separate attacks.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Mar 22, 1999
Words:323
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