Dec 09, 2002

Acheh signs peace accord with Indonesia

The agreement of Cessation of Hostilities signed today between the Free Acheh Movement (GAM) and the Government of Indonesia (GoI) represents a correction of the failure of the previous accord on ending the hostilities and violence.

We hope that with the signing of this new accord involving the monitoring by at some 12 foreign nations, the people of Acheh would be able to live in peace free from all kinds of fear and terror and to rebuild themselves without hindrance and in dignity as is the right of every civilized people.

Until this very moment of the accord, acts of violence and brutalities continue to occur in Acheh. As an example, the case of the kidnapping and murder of humanitarian activist Musliadi (26), President of KAGEMPAR a few days ago by the Indonesian security forces.
The Indonesian military strength was reinforced yesterday with another 30 000 soldiers who landed in Lhok Seumawe, Geurugok and Banda Acheh.
New and massive military operations continued to be launched, like the one at Sawang, North Acheh yesterday whereby 36 villagers were arrested, brutalized and whose whereabouts and fate are still unknown. The ridiculous siege on Cot Trieng swamp by 3500 heavily armed troops who have been bombarding the 8 km long and 700 m wide swamp is still in place, presumably to force the non- existing GAM members there to surrender.

Arrogant statements are still being made by Indonesian generals until yesterday, such as blurted out by the Chief of the Indonesian Chief of staff of the Army, General Riyacudu, who told TNI soldiers in Lhok Seumawe, North Acheh, that “negotiations are for the Government; for us, TNI there is no negotiation with those so-called separatist rebels. TNI will continue to wipe-out GAM”.
In fact, GAM has been issued several threats of annihilation by Indonesian military as well as civilian leaders. President Megawati herself issued an ultimatum that if GAM did not accept the NAD autonomy package before Ramadhan, “we will take firm action”. The deadline was moved to after the end of Ramadhan and then to today. Needless to say this accord is not about bowing to these threats.

What we are signing today is an accord to end hostilities and all acts of violence, as the result of a series of dialogues, mediated by the Henry Dunant Centre (HDC). It is certainly not about GAM accepting NAD or abandoning its sacred struggle for national independence that the people of Acheh have started since 1873.

In his speech at the signing ceremony, the ASNLF’s chief negotiator, Dr. Zaini Abdullah said among other things that it is the aspiration of the Achehnese people to live in peace and to take their rightful place among the civilized community of the world. “It is our duty to assure that their legitimate and basic rights are protected in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. He said that the achievement made today is the direct result of the struggle and sacrifices of our people. “It is our pledge and commitment to accept whatever democratic decision they take. We hope that this peace process will lead to the opportunity for them to express their wish in a peaceful and safe manner”.

Dr. Zaini Abdullah concluded his speech with expressing in the name of “the gallant and loyal people of Acheh, our profound gratitude to all friends in the NGOs, mass media, humanitarian workers and human rights activists who have been risking their lives in the effort to unveil the human tragedy that has taken place for so long and is still on-going today in Acheh. Their noble sacrifice will never be forgotten”.
The signing ceremony that took place at the Henry Dunant Centre in Geneva was attended by 9 foreign ambassadors, including those from France, the US, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Norway, and the official representative of Switzerland.

The Achehnese delegation to the peace negotiations this time included 8 leaders of the Civil Society in Acheh who have voiced their unanimous support for the position taken by the ASNLF in the agreement.

The realization of peace in Acheh will give the Achehnese the opportunity to rebuild their future without fear and to contribute to the regional economic, political and security stability especially in South East Asia, and indeed in the world. It is a well-known fact that Acheh is very well endowed with rich natural resources and possesses an industrious people.
It is thus our challenge to rise to the occasion in order to take our rightful place among the civilized community of the world.