The Indonesian regime and the military have drastically stepped up the repression in Aceh.
The chair of the Acehnese Popular Democratic Resistance Front (FPDRA) has been abducted, probably by the military. The military have also scooped up 200 people in a raid.
With the exception of a short interval of relative peace in 1999 and 2000, most parts of Aceh can be described as war zones. The death toll since the beginning of 2002 has risen to around fifteen people a day, most of them civilians. Clashes between the Indonesian armed forces and police and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) are virtually daily occurrences.
Behind the tension is the desire of the military leaders to grab more power.
After the resurgence of GAM in the late eighties, the dictator Suharto turned Aceh into a military operations zone (DOM), which gave the military free rein to do whatever they thought fit. The death toll during DOM, from 1989 till 1998, was at least one thousand; a similar number disappeared and thousands were left physically disabled, widowed or orphaned. After the fall of Suharto, DOM was lifted but in 2000 the military started to apply the same violent methods again.
During the Wahid presidency a special autonomy law which renamed Aceh as NAD (Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam) was enacted by parliament.
But it has made little difference on the ground. After becoming president in July last year, Megawati talked of a "comprehensive" solution but all that has happened is that violence has increased significantly since the beginning of the year.
While the military top in Jakarta repeatedly promise to wipe out GAM, it is clear that many sections of the security forces are benefiting from the war economy and it is in their interest to keep the conflict going. The Aceh issue is also being used to blackmail the political elite in Jakarta, up to and including President Megawati, by insisting that they need all the manpower, equipment and money they can lay their hands on while enjoying impunity, allowing them to step up their brutality without fear of facing charges of human rights violations.