Hæren nekter Norges Røde Kors å sette opp et feltsykehus i Banda Aceh, melder Håkon Børde.

Dette som virkelig var en interessant nyhet, kom langt ned på nyhetslisten. Det handler om makt, og hvorfor USA har større muligheter til å hjelpe Aceh enn den humanitære supermakten Norge (Egelands betegnelse).

Det synes å være en uvilje i norske medier mot å gå inn på forholdene i Indonesia, som er betydningsfull med sine 240 millioner innbyggere. Virkeligheten er grim:

In Aceh, where at least 100,000 people have died so far from the tsunami, rebels have fought since 1976 to free the province, which was an independent nation for centuries, from Indonesian rule. The Free Aceh guerrillas kill civilians, but 90 percent of the civilian murders in the region are committed by Indonesia’s armed forces and paramilitary police. The war continues in no small part because Indonesian military officers are unwilling to give up a lucrative source of corrupt plunder. In May 2003, Indonesia imposed a harsh state of emergency, which blocked almost all outsiders from entering Aceh, including humanitarian groups, diplomats and journalists. Since then, at least 2,000 people have been killed.

Now Aceh is full of foreigners. There are reports of cooperation between the sides in small ways, at the individual level. Prison wardens freed guerrilla inmates from a flooded prison, for example, and when a call was made for these fighters to return to help relief efforts, almost all did. Donations for Acehnese relief from the rest of Indonesia – where Aceh is not popular – have run high.

But so far the leaders are missing the opportunity. The rebels announced a unilateral cease-fire, but this was not matched by the military – long indifferent to how its actions turn Acehnese citizens against the government. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has not lifted the state of emergency. So the army is doling out aid while pursuing guerrillas. (On Friday, not far from where the tsunami hit, the Indonesian military killed seven men that it said were connected with the rebels, but whose relatives say were innocent victims.) And there are already indications that the military is looking at relief efforts as a continuation of the war. Soldiers are trying to ensure that aid does not fall into rebel hands while also skimming off the top. Some citizens have said that the military does not let them travel to search for family members, and that soldiers have withheld aid from people who lack a special ID card given by the police in Aceh, a card many are too afraid to apply for.

Indonesia’s politicians and military need international encouragement to pursue different policies. The president must lift the state of emergency, open all of Aceh and keep it open. As much as possible, civilian Acehnese should carry out relief efforts, as part of a necessary long-term demilitarization of the society. Officials of the United States, forbidden by American law to finance Indonesia’s military because of its rampant human-rights violations, should not be making noises about resuming financial ties. Instead, outside nations should be encouraging the guerrillas to give up their armed struggle and the government to return to the terms of a peace agreement reached two years ago.

Fra NYTimes-leder mandag 10.1