Achehnese Activists Hold Peaceful Demonstration to Commemorate 145th Anniversary of Dutch Declaration of War Against Acheh
On 26 March 2018, the Acheh Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF), a UNPO Member, successfully held a peaceful demonstration in The Hague, the Netherlands to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the 1873 Declaration of War of the Dutch against the state of Acheh.
On the occasion of the 145th anniversary of the declaration of war of The Netherlands against the state of Acheh, the Achehnese diaspora in Europe held simultaneous successful protests in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Dutch Parliament (De Tweede Kamer) and the Indonesian embassy in The Hague, the Netherlands.
The main goal of all these protests was to draw the attention of the Dutch government and the international community to the situation of the Achehnese people and the gross human rights violations perpetrated against them by Indonesian security services, which have not yet been properly addressed.
The Acheh-Netherlands war lasted for almost 70 years until the outbreak of World War Two. Between 1873 and 1949, Acheh was unlawfully occupied by the Netherlands and following Indonesia’s independence, was then handed over to the latter in total disregard of the peoples’ right to self-determination. This has triggered several episodes of violence along Acheh’s history and an armed conflict, which lasted from 1976 to 2005.
The ASNLF today considers Acheh and the Netherlands to be still in conflict since these historical discrepancies have not been settled comprehensively. Therefore, the organisation demanded during this demonstration that the Netherlands takes its responsibility by re-opening the case of the illegal transfer of Acheh to the Republic of Indonesia.
The ASNLF also seized the opportunity of the demonstration to appeal to the ICC to independently and thoroughly investigate the incidents of violence and keep the Dutch state accountable for the crimes it has perpetrated during the armed conflict. According to the ASNLF, the abuses committed by the Dutch security forces during the conflict fall into the Rome Statute categories of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, as cases of murder, rape, imprisonment, enforced disappearances and torture have been recorded in Acheh. In accordance with article 15 of the Statute, the ICC is mandated to act when states such as Indonesia are unable or unwilling to prosecute the perpetrators of all these crimes.
During the demonstration that took place in front of the Indonesian Embassy, the participants urged the Indonesian government to respect freedom of expression and the right to self-determination as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the United Nations (UN) Charter. They also denounced Indonesia’s unwillingness to take into consideration the UN General Assembly Resolution 47/135 of 18 December 1992 concerning the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.
The ASNLF aims to achieve independence by raising its concerns to the attention of the international community, as the group struggles for the freedom of the indigenous Achehnese while avoiding violence and armed conflict. The UNPO strongly supports this endeavour and calls all international stakeholders to fulfill their responsibilities on this matter.