Press Release
July 12, 2012

A Rise in Security Tension in Acheh

"Those who sacrifice liberty for security, deserve neither" -- Benjamin Franklin

We are deeply sorry to convey that recent occurrences in Acheh have signaled a rise in security tension in the area. Since the inauguration of the Indonesian Governor for Acheh on June 25, 2012, several security incidents have taken place in some parts of Acheh. Now and again the situation reflects the fragility of the Helsinki peace deal and shows that the peace process has not taken even a slight root into Acheh society. On the contrary, it has only touched the surface of the community, thus any small disturbances to peace has a potential damage to shatter the whole process.

In a relatively short period of time, there have been a great number of cases that clearly described a heating up situation in Acheh. Various local media have actively reported some of them, such as assault to former governor, Irwandi Yusuf, in Banda Acheh; gunshots that caused some serious injuries in Great Acheh; conflict on land acquisition successively caused an environmental disaster that led to unlawful detentions in Singkil; conflict on Zaratex gas exploration in Nisam, North Acheh; and gunshots in East Acheh. Unfortunately, the list just continues to grow in a daily basis due to the incapability of the Indonesian authority to enforce law in order to prevent either the occurrence of new cases or further complication of the existing ones.

However, Irwandi's case has gained a better attention from international community since it involved an important figure and happened in the inauguration ceremony of current Acheh Governor, which was attended by representatives from several foreign countries. Unfortunately, even an attack to such a high figure, in such an important moment, still can manage to avoid justice, let alone any violence against civilians in less important occasions. Soon after the above-mentioned incident, two members of Partai Aceh (PA) were critically injured by gunshots in Lambaro Village of Great Acheh.

Shamefully, such as often occur to many other similar cases in the past, the Indonesian authorities declared that recent incidents were not politically motivated although facts indicate a whole different story. Their ignorance has certainly aggravated the situation and caused the Achehnese, who only has little faith on the Indonesian justice system, to come closer to  abandoning their faith on justice at all.

On the other hand, the increasing presence of militias, including Satgas PA (security task force of PA) and the newly formed Gerakan Bela Negara (GBN), has inflicted a widespread fright into the society. There is absolutely no sense of freedom inside the Achehnese community while militias are surveilling every civil movement and often use intimidation and force to those against them. Cases of physical confrontation in Nagan Raya and Southwest Acheh on June 29 and 30, 2012, respectively, between civilian and Satgas PA are some good examples that signify tension between the two.

In addition to that, a serious incident which has violated civilian right for freedom of speech and of peaceful assembly has happened in Singkil following a peaceful demonstration in a case of land acquisition. Four organizers of the event were initially summoned to the District Police Station for a negotiation. And of all sudden, they were then unlawfully arrested and detained. The cunning process of their arrest surely has brought out a reminiscent of past situation during bloody conflict.

Accordingly, Indonesian authority's denial of Acheh's troubled condition is truly a mockery of Achehnese right of security and justice. Their tendency to side with current local power in Acheh evidently has sparked new conflicts between the Achehnese themselves, which have been intentionally created to control any movement against the Republic - the same old tactic "devide et impera" of the Dutch colonialism. For that reason,  the Helsinki peace process has failed to deliver peace to Acheh since its provisions wrongly entrust security and justice issues to Indonesian corrupted system, which was blamed by many international observers to be the source of conflict itself.

ASNLF, therefore, appeals to international communities, especially to the UN, to closely monitor the situation in Acheh and to make sure that Achehnese security and fundamental rights be guaranteed. The international presence in our homeland has become even more indispensable after the departure of EU and CMI on June 30, 2012.

In this occasion we would also like to draw the attention of Acheh's surrounding countries such as Malaysia and Australia in the matter of our refugee and asylum seekers. We would like to point out that the rise of tension in Acheh might proportionally raise the refugee influx into these neighbouring countries. Therefore, we are hoping for their full support in regard to the security of our countrymen and for their willingness to let ASNLF involved on the issues.

Finally, we call all parties to fully respect that all people, inclusive Achehnese, have the right freely to determine their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Acheh-Sumatra National Liberation Front
Postfach 10 15 26
99805 Eisenach
Tel. +49 1577 3431 335
Fax. +49 3691 8548 984