7 November 2012
The Edinburgh agreement, signed by British Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond on 15 October, has paved the way for a Scottish independence referendum in 2014, allowing the people of Scotland to freely determine their future whether to remain within the UK or to break away from the kingdom.
Congratulations! Long live freedom, democracy and justice!
The news has been received by a shrug in the capitals of the European Union, considering the possibility of the domino-effect which may arise upon the ”yes” vote for an independent Scotland. The fear, of course, is that the cracks in Scotland will widespread the aura of separatism to the rest of Europe.
Earlier on September 11, more than a million Catalan pro-independence swarmed the streets of Barcelona, with the huge banners strung across saying among others: "Catalonia: The Next Independent State in Europe."
EU’s deep concerns in regard to these matters are not an exaggeration, especially with separatism the union is currently facing in mind. For example, there are a possible dissolution of Belgium through separation of the Dutch-speaking people of the Flanders and French-speaking people of Walloon region, and increasing demands for partition of the Spanish Basque and Catalan provinces amidst the country’s undergoing deep financial crises, just to name a few.In addition to these situations, recent development in Scotland and Catalonia surely could be a real blow to the European Union model of living and working together in multi-cultural, language, and ethnic Europe.
With that in mind, it would be interesting to see how the EU is going to handle the threats of separatism in its own backyards.
Based on the previous EU member-states involvement in dealing with separatism abroad, with the exception of Timor Leste, Kosovo and South Sudan, they have been averse to and to some extent double standard in their response to the breakaway aspirations in the other part of the world. Take a good example of liberation movements across the Indonesian archipelago such as in Acheh Sumatra, West Papua, South Moluccas, etc. In this region, EU member-states along with the USA have been persisting not to contravene with Indonesia. In addition, they even equip the totalitarian regime to the teeth in order to crush anything deemed to be a threat to territorial integrity of that failed state. For that reason, the USA and EU are accountable for depriving millions of citizens from all former Dutch East Indian colonies alias Indonesia of their rights to self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
In December 2004, while ruthless martial law was still in progress, Acheh was devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami that had caused around 250,000 human lives. Realising the helpless situations both GAM and Achehnese were facing, the EU and some other international players seized the opportunity to bring back Indonesia and GAM into negotiating table and put tremendous pressures on the latter to accept anything that Jakarta could offer.
Mediated by a Finnish NGO under the chairmanship of President Martti Ahtisaari, the two parties initiated a peace talk in Helsinki in late January 2005. In one particular occasion, as stated by Hamid Awaluddin Conciliation Resources publication, President Ahtisaari threatened in a hubristic way to expel GAM delegation if they still talked about independence:
”...if you keep talking about the idea of independence, please leave my room and never come back. But remember, you will never get what you dream. Not in my lifetime. I will use all of my muscles to influence Europe and the world not to support you. You will never get independence.” - Accord issue 20, page 27, Reconfiguring Politics: the Indonesia - Aceh Peace Process, Conciliation Resources, 2008.
Ahtisaari's amok at the meeting was a reminiscent of similar threats that the Megawati government put on GAM in 2003 prior to the Tokyo talks upon its rejection of autonomy solution. The only difference was at this time it came from a renowned diplomat, a European mediator - not from the military junta in Jakarta.
Very interesting to ask, could Ahtisaari apply such a similar reprimand when cleaning his own backyards in Catalonia, Basque, Scotland etc.? Indeed, when the right to self-determination or the right to cessation from one entity can no longer be discussed at a negotiating table in a capital of Europe, something must be terribly wrong with it. It will be in flagrant violations of the values that the EU has been preaching to other peoples in the third world ever since. In turn, pragmatism might have replaced all UN resolutions and international conventions so that either the right to self-determination belongs only to the privileged ones, or this right only applicable to a certain group of peoples?
As the case of Scotland, there are many other similar histories of state separation such as the peaceful partition of Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 which both now live in two separate states but maintain friendly relations between each other. And so do the separations of the Baltic States from the Russian Federation in 1991 that were handled in a very delicate and relatively peaceful manner.
The only possible Solution
Acheh Sumatra Liberation Front (ASNLF) was reborn in April this year. The Achehnese are ready to take up and resume the unfinished tasks of redeeming the past and justifying its future. The resolution to exercise their own rights to their homeland territory is adamant and unrelenting.
Furthermore, since the signing of the Helsinki accord, Achehnese have been thus far fed with a steady dose of lukewarm propaganda dishes on amorphous concepts such as ”democracy”, ”peace”, ”prosperity”, ”justice” and what have you. They have been left astray in a political limbo and have found themselves in a war of attrition against powerful opponents with limitless resources and countless tricks. All promises given in the MoU are conditional and dozens of articles stipulated in the Law on the Governing of Acheh (LoGA) such as Human Rights Court (HRC) remain unfulfilled.
The only thing that Jakarta has been doing so far is pouring petrodollars down into the area to enrich a few and let the rest to be impoverished. By so doing, the regime is creating injustices through economic disparities and hopes to play the Achehnese against each other while favoring the one in power. Moreover, in cahoots with their former enemy, some former combatants who have become the new aristocrats in Acheh are unashamedly displaying their affluence in front of penniless masses who had sacrificed everything during the thirty years of conflict.
For these reasons, the ASNLF is duty-bound to pre-empt these looming conflicts, to avert the possible havoc caused by the Jakarta's ”divide-and-rule” agenda, and to unite all Achehnese under one umbrella in order to fight for their inalienable right to self-determination.
Throughout history, empires have risen and fallen. So were the fates of the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire etc. But the Dutch Empire of the East Indies remains, preserved, and kept intact – merely the name has changed from Dutch East Indies to Indonesia. Supporting Indonesia economically and militarily in order to preserve the huge territorial integrity of the former Dutch East Indies, by shedding the blood of our ancestors and also our next generations, is an opprobrium itself.
The Indonesia's conundrum is not a question of simply territorial integrity but full of other countless fallacies. Endemic corruption, collusion and nepotism, increasing religious intolerance, the absence of enforcement of laws, impunity with regards to past and present human rights violations, are some of the very least examples of the catastrophe which qualify that country as a failed state.
Indonesia is the only colonial territories of the Dutch East Indies which has been perpetuated and never been decolonized properly in accordance with the procedures of international laws and the laws of decolonization.
For that reason, the people of Acheh as well as the West Papuans and the Moluccas are solely demanding justice and their rights to self-determination which they rightly deserve. The peoples of the East Indies wish to be treated equally, justly and expect recognition from international community. While these rights are not fulfilled, the question of Acheh and the rest will remain and never rest. Therefore, Acheh’s problems should be resolved through the principles of the right to self-determination of its people in a way the British response to the question of Scotland - not through selective justice as what is currently applied to the former Dutch East Indies colonies.
For more information, please contact:
Madinatul Fajar, ASNLF Head of Secretariat