Aug 12, 2022

Acheh Representative ASNLF Set To Protest in Finnish Capital Ahead of Anniversary of Memorandum

The Acheh-Sumatra National Liberation Front has called for a protest in Helsinki on the 15th of August in light of a state banquet between the governments of Finland and Indonesia. The banquet falls on the anniversary of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Free Acheh Movement, brokered by the Finnish Head of State at the time. The ASNLF believe that the Memorandum has structural flaws that need addressing and want to make their voices heard to the Finnish government and international community through this protest.

Acheh was an recognised an independent sovereign state for hundreds of years before the arrival of European powers to South-East Asia. Throughout its history, first against Portugal, then the British and Dutch in the 18th century and today against the Indonesian government in Jakarta, Acheh has continued its struggle against colonial rule with varying degrees of success.

On the back of this, the Free Acheh Movement (GAM) was founded in 1976. Conflict arose over the Indonesian government’s extraction of natural resources in the area and their human rights violations against Achenese. On August 15 2005 though, the Indonesian government and the GAM agreed to a peace treaty and Memorandum of Understanding. This agreement was notably brokered by Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari.

Despite increased autonomy, UNPO member ASNLF though still aim at exercise their right to self-determination and believe the Memorandum has not been fully respected by the Indonesian government. The presence of Indonesian soldiers despite promises of demilitarization is a key example of how respect for the MoU remains elusive. It is in this context that the ASNLF are calling for a protest against the Indonesian-Finland state banquet on the anniversary of the signing of the MoU. The protest will be held in various parts of the Finnish Capital of Helsinki, including outside the Indonesian embassy where the banquet is set to take place.