Saturday, January 29, 2005

Tsunami: UN contractor, activist Farid Faqih who got arrested for allegedly stealing Aid supplies in Aceh, claims he was beaten by a gang of soldiers while in custody.

However, Mr. Faqih, who heads the group Government Watch, said he had been assaulted by several soldiers, not just one. The army captain, Suaib, who like many Indonesians uses a single name, is suspected of beating Mr. Faqih on Thursday at a jail in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, said Maj. Gen. Bambang Dharmono, who is head of the military's tsunami relief work. General Dharmono called the beating "unacceptable." The police detained Mr. Faqih on Wednesday on suspicion of stealing food, medicine and computers. Mr. Faqih, who had a black eye and a bruised, swollen face, denied the accusations. "It was a gang of soldiers who beat me up," he told reporters at a police station in Banda Aceh. "I did not steal aid. It's a lie."
Jakarta Post editorial takes the army to task for the assault.
It means one question: With so much lost, can Indonesians turn over a new leaf, at least for the sake of those who survived? Can we not steal their money? Can we not revert to old tricks and engage in "marking up" needs, as Farid reportedly accused officials of? And can we investigate and prosecute alleged thieves and not beat them up before any trial? The early signs are that many among us cannot give up our very old habits -- as is evident from the pictures of Farid Faqih's bloated face.

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