young blood - in aceh

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    If GAM was responsible for burning all the schools in Aceh, why didn't they do it while they had control?

    Even children have become targets of Indonesian-army bullets as a brutal war against Aceh's separatist rebels gets under way

    Khairurrazi Ismail was always going to die young. He said so himself. When his father passed away, the 18-year-old had wrapped the old man's body in a white cotton shroud, then taken the remaining material to his mother. "Keep this safe for me," he told her. "I'll need it soon." Sure enough, 17 days later, Khairurrazi's corpse was lowered into a muddy trench in a village cemetery in Peusangan, an area near Bireun in northern Aceh that has been ravaged by conflict since the Indonesian military last week launched its massive campaign to crush the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM). As the gravediggers maneuvered Khairurrazi's body onto its side to face Mecca, blood seeped through his shroud. Khairurrazi, always a thin, sickly youth, had expected an illness to kill him. Instead, he was beaten and bayoneted, then shot in the head. "Half his skull was blown off," weeped his mother, Ramla, clutching a Muslim prayer book. "I had to pick up my poor boy's brains and put them back in his head."

    Khairurrazi died in an act of signature brutality committed by soldiers of the Indonesian military (t.n.i.). He died young, but not nearly as young as some of the others massacred alongside him. TIME has confirmed that eight male villagers were executed that day, each shot in the head at close range. Besides Khairurrazi, one was 20 years old, two were 18, one was 17, one 14, one 13 and one just 11. The t.n.i. claimed the dead were GAM suspects killed during a shoot-out. The terrified villagers told me a very different story. I arrived in the area just as a company of high-spirited soldiers was leaving. "You should have come earlier," grinned a burly soldier wearing the insignia of Indonesia's notoriously vicious Kopassus special forces. "You missed all the action."
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