4 December 1976 – 4 December 201
The 36th anniversary of the Acheh-Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF) or the Free Acheh, which fell on December 4 two weeks ago, had been successfully celebrated. In contrast to previous years, this year's anniversary was widely observed – in Acheh and abroad. It was on this day, thirty six years ago, Dr. Tengku Hasan Muhammad di Tiro returned to Acheh in 1976 and proclaimed the country free from Indonesian colonialist rule.
In Acheh The Crescent Star Flag was raised in several provinces, including the capital Banda Aceh, especially since December 1, 2012 in the area of Lhokseumawe. On the following days, the Crescent Star was majestically flown in other places such as Pidie Region, Pidie Jaya, Lhokseumawe, Langsa, Meulaboh, and other areas across Acheh. In Pidie Region alone the flag was hoisted in at least ten locations (Serambinews.com, 4 Desember 2012). And in Pase Province, more than a dozen independence flags were pulled down and confiscated by military and police (Atjehpost, 4 Desember 2012).
This was the first time since the Helsinki peace deal was reached in August 2005, that the independence flag Crescent Star started to be successfully flown again in Acheh. And these events had been widely covered by online and mainstream local media, including the leading local daily, Serambi Indonesia, which used to be in the fore-front to condemn whenever this ”forbidden” flag was raised.
The December 4 celebrations by pro-independence groups in Acheh appeared largely peaceful despite prior warnings by Indonesia’s local police and its proxies, the Acheh Party. The Head of Indonesian Police in Acheh (Kapolda) Irjen Polisi Herman Effendi, through local media, had in fact strongly warned that any flag raising of the Crescent Star would be sternly dealt with (The Globe Journal, 03 Desember 2012). The security forces along with its militias had started operations since the first day of December. As an act of anticipation, they were patrolling in remote villages and warning the villagers of the dire consequences of the raising the independence flag.
Despite all these threats from the police and its militias, pro-independence activists managed to raise the Crescent Star and then absconded to avoid arrest or persecution - thus, defying all warnings and threats from the authority. These activists of ASNLF insisted on taking the risks as to show the world that Indonesian presence in their homeland is illegal. This also proves that they are aware of their rights and and they are ready to fight for it. For them, the ”Helsinki promises” are only tools to deprive Achehnese of their rights to self-determination and other fundamental freedoms.
An ASNLF spokesman for Pase province condemned the pull down of the flags by the security apparatus and its proxies. He also stressed that the flag raising was an symbol that the Achehnese struggle for an independent Acheh still continues.
ASNLF extends therefore its warm greetings to all Achehnese at home, who have taken enormous risks in order to honour those who have fallen martyred in defence of this flag. The much appreciation is also dedicated to ASNLF representatives abroad who have also been successful in raising our historic flag on that Day.
For more information, please contact:
Madinatul Fajar, ASNLF Head of Secretariat