Aceh Under Martial Law
Thousands of Indonesians have fled to Malaysia since the start of military operations and martial law in Indonesia's Aceh province in May 2003. They are fleeing a brutal conflict marked by grave human rights violations, including extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances, kidnappings, beatings, arbitrary detentions, and strict limitations on freedom of movement. Young men, in particular, are singled out by Indonesian security forces on suspicion that they are separatist rebels or supporters. Ongoing fighting, massive internal displacement, drastic restrictions on movement, and restrictions on humanitarian assistance have made the province an unbearable place to live for many Acehnese. Braving a difficult, dangerous, and costly journey, many have fled to Malaysia to seek refuge.
Upon arrival in Malaysia, Acehnese refugees face a new set of challenges. Malaysia does not have a system to provide protection for refugees and asylum seekers. It does not recognize Acehnese fleeing the armed conflict at home as refugees. As a result, the Malaysian government has arrested, detained, and deported Acehnese refugees back to the very conflict they are fleeing. Those who manage to avoid deportation frequently live in situations of extreme poverty and are regularly subject to extortion from local police.
- 2004 Human Rights Watch
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