May 10, 2016
The Acheh-Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF) took to the streets of Stockholm, Sweden for their annual May Day protest. Activists involved in the walk shouted for a “Free Acheh”, and banners called for justice and independence for Acheh, currently under Indonesian control. Significantly, protesters carried moon-and-star flags representing the Independent Acheh Republic, as the parade advanced past many of the foreign embassies in Stockholm, bringing the issue to the attention of the public and state officials alike.
(STOCKHOLM) The traditional Acheh song Hikayat Prang Sabi can be heard from one of the parade lineups on the streets of Stockholm. The audience, however, was not Achehnese; rather, they were Swedes standing on the left and right side of the street. It was a fine day, and as has been the annual tradition on May 1, around 70 Achehnese living in various cities across Sweden gathered in Stockholm, taking advantage of Labour Day to channel their aspirations.
"Hikayat Prang Sabi lights the spirits of the Achehnese participating in the parade," explained Syahbuddin Abdurrauf, the Acheh-Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF), the May Day protest coordinator for this year.
Tens of Achehnese from different generations, from teenagers to the first generation of Achehnese in Sweden, took part in the event. As a form of solidarity in the struggle, they also waved the flags of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and Republic of South Maluku (RMS). ASNLF has always taken advantage of days that attract the public's attention, such as Labour Day, to express their aspirations.
Reading through the memoirs of Tgk Hasan Tiro, it is apparent that he has long been a firm advocator of the celebration of Labour Day, even since his guerrilla days in the forest, as well as in Stockholm. The Wali Negara(Head of State) of Acheh was never absent, except if he was sick or away.
Besides Hikayat Prang Sabi, cries of "Free Acheh" in Swedish also came from the parade. In front of the line was a banner, saying “Together For Justice and Independence of Acheh, Goodbye MoU Helsinki”, followed by “Acheh Has Every Right To Be Independent” and "Indonesian Colonialism Must Unconditionally Leave Acheh", but perhaps the most dramatic sight was the sheer number of moon-and-star flags--currently a controversial topic in Acheh--being waved about. The action emphasized the message that the flag is the flag of the Independent Acheh Republic; not merely a flag of one of the provinces in Indonesia.
The ASNLF parade, escorted by the local police, started in Humlegården park, made their way to the foreign embassies area in Stockholm, and ended in Norra Bantorget Square. The route was 2 Km long. The organization, as well as others like them, obtained permission for the protest as they were following behind the main parade of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, the biggest party in Sweden.
Based on observations at the location, several police officers in plainclothes and uniform were seen patrolling on rooftops and along the parade route.
Click the link below to see the video of the May Day protest from ASNLF: