Feb 27, 2012 07:42 PST
also: Jakarta’s Homework and Maintaining Trust in Aceh
The Jakarta Post
Monday, February 27, 2012
Unfinished Reconciliation Haunts Acehnese
Renewed violence in Aceh killed at least 15 people in at least three
regencies since last October, with police saying they cannot identify
most of the perpetrators. The following is a report by The Jakarta
Post’s Nani Afrida on post-conflict reconciliation, to be followed
later this week by reports on the economy and the direct local
Many in Aceh have forgotten the sound of gunfire. They had enjoyed
relative peace for seven years since the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and
the Indonesian government signed the historic peace deal on Aug. 15
2005, ending some 30 years of war.
But sporadic shootings since October have led police to call on the
public to report or turn in any weapons in the hands of civilians by
February this year. This confirmed what some suspected already — that
beyond the few thousand rifles handed in to authorities, many more
remain hidden, buried near homes or in private plots.
“When we heard people killed in incidents involving armed civilians,
it was like our nightmares returned” said Ilyas Umar, a noodle vendor
in Sigli, Pidie.
“We pray and pray that the conflict does not return, so our children
can live in peace,” he added.
It may have been this wishful thinking that has led to apparent
normalcy in Aceh. But in stark contrast to the carefree nights of
Banda Aceh, in areas like North Aceh and Pidie, residents try to rush
home before dark.
Activists and experts believe that the current tension stems from
unfinished reconciliation among Acehnese, the central government, and
the GAM — among many other frictions in the province.
Lecturer Teuku Kemal Fasya said that issues of “reconciliation” have
been practically forgotten with all the efforts to restore as much
normalcy as possible after the devastating tsunami and armed conflict.
Ideally, reconciliation should involve the painful process of truth
seeking and apologies — as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) signed in Helsinki.
“Now, people are afraid reconciliation will hurt the peace process, so
they pretend to forget it,” Kemal told The Jakarta Post recently.
Formally, reconciliation allows the traditional process of pesijeuk —
the peace-making ceremony in which accused parties of numerous kinds
of conflicts reveal their deeds.
“Maybe relatives would forgive the killing [of their family member],
but the child [of the victim] might not accept such a lenient
resolution to the crime,” a resident said, highlighting the situation
facing thousands of children orphaned by the conflict.
agreement was signed in 2005, some estimate the war claimed the lives
| ||From the time the GAM was established in 1976, until the Helsinki
of some 17,000 civilians.
Evidence is another problem for reconciliation — the soldiers
witnessed to have killed civilians can no longer be found and places
like the notorious Rumah Geudong in Pidie, where the army tortured
suspected GAM affiliates, was burned to the ground.
For perpetrators affiliated with GAM, residents are fearful of raising
cases of kidnapping and murder, as these former GAM figures are now in
Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf even says reconciliation is “no longer
important” — as the Aceh Party, comprising many former combatants, has
accepted retired military officers into their campaign teams for the
upcoming local election. Many of the retired officers are Javanese,
former nemesis of the Acehnese.
This example shows reconciliation has occurred “naturally”, said
Irwandi, previously in charge of GAM’s intelligence unit.
However, activist Thamrin Ananda says that beyond GAM and the
government, other parties of previous conflicts should be involved in
reconciliation attempts. These include the grandchildren of the
conflicting nobles and ulema of the 1946 Cumbok War, whose parents
still endure the trauma of their elders being killed or kidnapped. To
avoid trouble, many of the nobles’ descendants refrain from using
History reveals that Aceh has experienced 138 years of conflict and
only 15 years of peace.
Dutch colonialism, starting in 1873, was followed by the Japanese
invasion near the end of World War II. After the Cumbok war, Aceh
rebelled against Jakarta, with the leading ulema, Daud Beureu’eh,
declaring the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII). The NII surrendered
with promises that sharia would be allowed in Aceh. Following the
alleged coup of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965, Aceh was
among the areas where the PKI was crushed.
The fresh conflict occurred in 1976 when the GAM declared Aceh’s
independence. Jakarta responded with subsequent military operations,
both overt and covert operations.
Today, seven years after the Helsinki agreement, people feel a new
conflict approaching as former GAM fighters have split into two
groups; those with the Aceh Party, which many former combatants
previously supported, and those supporting Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf
in his reelection bid.
Both camps are ambitious, and hope to grab power in the gubernatorial
election scheduled for April 9, the fifth revised date since December.
The delays were largely caused by the Aceh Party’s objections to
Irwandi running as an independent candidate — a dispute finally
settled by the Constitutional Court in favor of Irwandi.
“Previously we knew only one GAM group, but today we have many. This
is scary,” said Ilyas Musa, a pedicab driver from Pidie.
“My family and I will support anyone as long as we can look for our
daily bread,” said Ilyas.
Aulia Abdullah, a farmer from Sawang district in North Aceh Regency,
also said, “Let them [GAM members] take money or power, and leave us
Aulia said if former combatants had a better life, they would no
longer be carrying rifles, and problems for civilians could be
Compared to former GAM members, he said civilians have not progressed
much economically. “But that’s OK as long as there is no war anymore,”
Despite former combatants’ complaints, civilians see their new cars
and new houses, reportedly results of big business projects — and new
Thamrin said that GAM’s internal conflict is caused by old disputes
and unresolved issues.
One former GAM faction is the GAM Consultative Council, or MP GAM, led
by the group’s home affairs minister, Husaini Hasan, who resides in
Malaysia. A source close to the MP GAM has said the group is still
seeking independence for Aceh, though their level of popular support
The conflict among former GAM members has largely been evident in the
perceived unfairness in the distribution of compensation and jobs. It
is an open secret that only a small number of former GAM members
benefitted economically after the peace agreement, while the rest are
without money and jobs.
Irwandi, who was Aceh’s first directly elected governor, asserted that
this “small” conflict among former combatants was “temporary”.
As outlined in the MoU, the establishment of the truth and
reconciliation commission should have been one way of addressing past
However, the prospects for the establishment of such a provincial
commission remain unclear after a Constitutional Court ruling in
December 2006, which annulled the 2004 Law on the National Commission
of Truth and Reconciliation (KKR) on technical grounds.
Sociologist Otto Syamsuddin Ishak said reconciliation attempts will
forever be constrained, pending official channels for reconciliation.
He said as both GAM forces and the Indonesian Military were involved
in human rights abuses, authorities “show no resolve” in finding ways
to set up a reconciliation commission.
Instead of seeking the parties to blame for constraints against
healing past wounds, kontraS Aceh, the provincial chapter of the
independent Committee for Victims of Violence and Forced
Dissappearance, has attempted to hold a number of mediations or
“communal KKRs” among conflict victims.
Destika Gilang Lestari, the coordinator of kontraS Aceh, said that
communal KKRs will be a channel for conflict victims to raise their
cases. Thousands remain in the dark as to why their relatives are
missing or were killed, or where their relatives are buried.
The communal KKR “will prepare conflict victims [for the time] when
the government is ready for the formal KKR,” Gilang said. She said
lasting peace for Acehnese, particularly conflict victims, was only
possible through attempts to seek the truth and justice.
Meanwhile, residents continue to be wary. Ilyas Umar, a noodle seller
from Kembang Tanjong village, a former GAM stronghold, was surprised
upon learning the rampant circulation of firearms.
“We thought [GAM members] had decommissioned all their weapons,” he said.
But recent killings confirmed suspicions that many weapons are still
in private possession — rifles bought to avenge loved ones, even if
one had to sell paddy fields and livestock to buy the weapons on the
black market. “I thought this peace would last forever,” said Lutfan
Ali, 50, a resident from Lhokseumawe.
Highlights of Aceh, 1998-2012
1998 President Soeharto resigns. His successor, then vice president BJ
Habibie, ends Aceh’s 10-year status as a Military Operation Zone
launched to crush the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
2000 The Geneva-based Henri Dunant Center for Humanitarian Dialogue
(HDC) encourages direct contact between GAM and Jakarta.
May 2000 The Geneva deal for a “Humanitarian Pause” beginning June 2
marginally lowers the extent of ongoing violence.
2001 President Abdurrahman Wahid declares a “comprehensive program”
for Aceh, in which only the TNI “Security Recovery Operation” is
Aug. 2001 President Megawati Soekarnoputri signs special autonomy law
Jan. 2002 TNI raids GAM headquarters and kills GAM commander Abdullah
May 2002 Agreement reached in Switzerland for a future “all-inclusive
dialogue process” and mechanisms to establish “cessation of hostility”
Dec. 2002 HDC-brokered Cessation of Hostility agreement signed in
Geneva, with the support of monitoring teams from the Philippines and
April 2003 International monitoring missions withdrawn after militia
attacks on some of them.
May 2003 Military Emergency in Aceh.
May 2004 Civil Emergency in Aceh.
Dec. 2004 Tsunami and earthquake hits Aceh, killing more than 220,000
people. Aceh eventually opens up to foreign aid workers.
Jan. 2005 Peace talks start in Helsinki.
May 2005 Civil Emergency status is lifted.
Aug. 2005 Signing of MoU between Indonesia and GAM.
Sep. 2006 Law no 11/2006 on Aceh Governance endorsed.
Dec. 2006 Aceh’s first direct gubernatorial election is won by Irwandi
July 2007 Former GAM members establish Aceh Party
April 2009 Aceh holds first local election for provincial legislative
council; Aceh Party wins.
Oct. 2009 GAM patron and pro-independence leader Hasan Tiro returns to
Aceh after more than 30 years living in Sweden.
June 2010 Hasan Tiro dies at 85.
Jan. 2011 Constitutional Court allows independent candidates to join
gubernatorial election in Aceh despite 2006 law stating this is
allowed only for Aceh’s first election.
Dec. 2011-Jan. 2012 At least six separate attacks by unidentified
gunmen in North and East Aceh, Banda Aceh, Bireuen, killing seven.
Exodus of migrant workers follow as victims are mostly identified as
Jan. 10 House of regent candidate Misbahul Munir is shot in Keudeu
Krueng Buloh Blang Ara, North Aceh.
Feb. 6 House member Irwandi Yusuf’s campaign team member Asnawi A
Rahman is attacked in Peureula, East Aceh.
Feb. 7 Campaign team member of regent candidate Ridwansyah, Zulkifli
bin Yahya, is tortured in Peureulak district, East Aceh.
Source: The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
Monday, February 27, 2012
Jakarta’s Homework and Maintaining Trust in Aceh
Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post
“Jakarta never keeps its promises,” the Acehnese used to say. They
would point to 1965, when founding father Sukarno promised them an
autonomous province in return for their contribution to the fledgling
republic; and 2001, when then president Megawati Soekarnoputri vowed
that blood would no longer be spilled in Aceh.
Almost seven years after the 2005 peace deal, ending the war between
the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), Acehnese are still
waiting for Jakarta’s most prized promise: A 70 percent share of the
revenues from their oil and gas reserves. The Acehnese have long
blamed the central government’s greed for their poverty, as most of
the revenues from their rich resources went to state coffers.
Acehnese lawmaker Nasir Djamil said fulfilling all Jakarta’s promises,
as mandated in the Helsinki peace agreement, was urgent to maintaining
the trust that the central government had finally gained from the
“Maintaining trust is part of the reconciliation between the central
government and Aceh,” said Nasir, the deputy chief of Commission III
overseeing legal affairs and laws, human rights and security at the
House of Representatives.
While the law on Aceh’s governance was endorsed in 2006, “many
regulations for the law’s implementation have not been completed.”
One of them was the joint management of revenue for Aceh’s oil and
gas. Nasir said the regulations must be completed soon to support
Aceh’s development, so that the Acehnese believed that the central
government could be trusted.
The Aceh desk coordinator at the Coordinating Ministry of Political,
Legal and Security Affairs, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amiruddin Usman, denied
suggestions that the central government was not serious regarding
Aceh. “We are in the process of deliberating those regulations. This
is not easy because some of the necessary regulations collide with
others.” This adds to the country’s legal mess.
He said a new regulation on Aceh’s Sabang coastal regency alone
involved 83 meetings with Acehnese authorities, experts and lawmakers.
He said pending regulations were only the ones on oil and gas revenue
management, and a few others.
Then there was the issue of reconciliation. In late 2006 the
Constitutional Court annulled the 2004 law on the nationwide Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (KKR), intended to address unresolved human
rights violations, including those in relation to the 1960s
witch-hunts of suspected communists.
The Court’s ruling virtually blocked prospects for a provincial-level
Commission in Aceh, while sensitivities over 1960s history, besides
other chapters in Indonesia’s past, has hampered discussions of a new
law on reconciliation.
“Aceh still needs the involvement of the government on the KKR
mechanism,” said Djuanda Jamal, the secretary-general of New Aceh, a
civil society group.
The 2005 deal and Law No. 11/2006 on Aceh’s governance state that the
central government and the Aceh administration must address past
rights abuses and establish a truth and reconciliation commission
within a national-level commission.
Most conflict victims and former combatants have yet to receive
compensation, while military officials implicated in human rights
abuses during the war, military operations in 1989 and 1998 and the
military emergency in 1999-2000, have not been brought to trial.
Amiruddin Usman acknowledged the set-up of the truth and
reconciliation commission remained Jakarta’s homework.
However, he said the central government had fulfilled several points
in the Helsinki agreement related to reconciliation.
“Reintegration, for instance, is part of reconciliation. We have
released all GAM prisoners. We gave them
amnesty and compensation,” Amiruddin said, adding that Jakarta had
spent Rp 2.4 trillion (US$266 million) for these purposes.
The government also established the Aceh Reintegration Agency (BRA) to
help affected civilians rebuild new houses and schools that were burnt
Reconciliation between the central government and GAM leaders is still
ongoing, Amiruddin said.
“We meet once every three months” in Jakarta, Amiruddin said, without
Zaini Abdullah, a prominent former GAM official, confirmed the regular
meetings with the central government.
“Mr Ahtisaari said that what happened in Aceh [with the peace
agreement] was the beginning of peace and we had to maintain that,”
Zaini said. He was referring to Nobel laureate Martti Ahtisaari, who
led the Helsinki peace talks.
Imam Suja, an Acehnese figure, said reconciliation was key to avoiding
“Aceh has only finished part one of its reconciliation between GAM and
the Indonesian military. But reconciliation is still needed between
GAM and the Acehnese, between the military and human rights victims
and so on,” Imam said.
With the incomplete peace process, some have apparently invested in
insurance: the suspected thousands of rifles remaining in private
possession, just in case peace doesn’t quite work out.
Pending points in MoU
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and the
Free Aceh Movement (GAM), signed on Aug. 15, 2005, has yet to be
realized in full, owing to the slow deliberation of the necessary
government regulations and legal contradictions following the
endorsement of the Aceh governance law in September 2006. The
following are selected pending issues of the MoU.
Article 1.3.4: “Aceh is entitled to retain 70 percent of the revenues
from all current and future hydrocarbon deposits and other natural
resources in the territory of Aceh as well as in the territorial sea
Article 2.2: “A Human Rights Court will be established for Aceh”
Article 2.3: “A Commission for Truth and Reconciliation will be
established for Aceh by the Indonesian Commission of Truth and
Reconciliation with the task of formulating and determining
Article 3.2.5: It states that all former combatants and all pardoned
political prisoners “will receive an allocation of suitable farming
land, employment, or, in the case of incapacity to work, adequate
social security from the authorities of Aceh.”
Note: At the peace talks GAM had stated there were 3,000 former
combatants and later acknowledged there were thousands more,
contributing to problems in distribution of funds and other resources.
Selected articles in Law No 11/2006 on the Government of Aceh which
contradict or lack consistency with the MoU
• Article 1.4.5 of the 2005 MoU: “All civilian crimes committed by
military personnel in Aceh will be tried in civil courts in Aceh”.
Article 203 of Law No. 11/2006 : Military personnel who committed
civilian crimes will not be tried in civil courts.
• Article 1.3.3 of MoU : “Aceh will have jurisdiction over living
natural resources in the territorial sea surrounding Aceh.”
Article 160 of Law No 11/2006 : Aceh will manage oil and gas in Aceh
together with the central government.
• Article 1.1.2c of MoU: “Decisions with regard to Aceh by
[Indonesia’s legislature] will be taken in consultation with and with
the consent of the legislature of Aceh.”
Article 8 of Law No. 11/ 2006 Decisions with regard to Aceh by
Indonesian legislators will be taken in consultation with and with the
consideration of Aceh legislators.
• Article 2.2 of MoU: “A human rights court will be established for Aceh “
Article 227 of Law No. 11/2006: Cases before 2006 cannot be processed
in Aceh’s human rights court.
Unfinished regulations to implement Law No 11/2006
• Govt regulation on joint management of Aceh’s oil and gas reserves.
• Govt regulation on protocol regarding tasks and authorities of
governor as representative of the central government.
• Presidential regulation on handover of provincial office of National
Land Agency and regency/mayoralty land office to local administration.
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