Press Release



For opposition, Acheh still a dangerous place to live in



Current Situation


The feast of democracy is over and Achehnese has just exercised its democratic rights to choose its governor, district heads and mayor posts in the April 9 election. Almost 7 years after the signing of Helsinki deal, ending the war between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), Achehnese once again endured one of the most difficult periods in times of peace.


Despite its abysmal performances ahead of the election and during the campaigns, the former combatant party, the Acheh Party candidate Zaini Abdullah-Muzakkir Manaf won overwhelmingly over other candidates, inclusive Irwandi Yusuf the incumbent who ran as an independent candidate, supported by a great deal of former GAM field commanders.


The election was obviously marred by violence including a wave of politically motivated killings, widespread threats and intimidation, torching vehicles of rival candidates and all kinds of dirty tricks. By winning the election, the Acheh Party, described by the International Crisis Group as an “autocratic, almost feudal party that brooks no dissent”, is nowinfull control of both the legislature and the executive. (Aceh’s bloodstained elections, GlobalPost, April 6, 2012)


Acheh Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) chairman Nyak Arief Fadhillah further confirmed that the Aceh Party intimidated voters in almost all regions, coercing them to vote for the party’s candidates. “We have reports of intimidation from almost all areas. In Pidie, for instance, a polling station official cast his vote three times. We are still gathering more evidence to support our claims that the scale of intimidation was massive,” he said. (Paswaslu: Intimidasi Terjadi di Hampir seluruh Daerah,, April 10, 2012)


Asian Network For Free Elections (ANFREL), in its 11 April preliminary report, has been very critical of how the election was conducted. Observers from this organisation suggested the text message threats had been reported to poll monitors in many districts, but there had been no follow-up. Damaso Magbual, the ANFREL chairman reported about several irregularities during polling day, such as one incident in which a local legislator arrived at a polling station and asked voters to choose a certain candidate. This kind of threat has become even worse when, as in one case observed by ANFREL, the perpetraitor is “a powerful and well known” figure. (Aceh Election Office Attacked Amid Claims of Vote Buying, The Jakarta Globe, April 11, 2012)


Acheh-Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF) has every right to be concerned about this development and the future situation in the country, more particularly the security of its members who still strongly adhere to the dreams of an independent Acheh. History shows that the future stakeholders of Acheh have not yet adjusted themselves to the post-conflict atmosphere and are still behaving abominably.



Human rights issue


In Acheh, human rights have become the thing of the past. Despite of being stipulated in the articles 2.2 and 2.3 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Helsinki that a “Human Rights Court” and a “Commission for Truth and Reconciliation” will be established in Acheh, so far nothing has eventuated after almost 7 years of the peace deal. What happens is that the perpetrators have managed to escape justice by reconciling between themselves and to forgive and forget the past abuses, including gross human rights violations and countless crimes against humanity during the conflict.


Reconciliation has actually been taking place between former combatants and the Indonesian military. But no such attempts have been done between former combatants and the Achehnese themselves and between the Indonesian military and human rights victims. The high hopes for establishing the above-mentioned commissions to bring the perpetrators to justice has become even more distant after two former indonesian military regional commanders for Acheh, General Sunarko and Major General Jalil Yusuf actively joint the Acheh Party in the campaign to win its candidate. According to a local newsmedia, these two high ranking military officials, implicated in human rights abuses during the conflict, are to stay in Acheh as advisers to the new government of Acheh.


The idea of bringing the perpetrators of human rights violations to justice has been long and incessantly voiced by the people of Acheh due to the unspeakable brutalities committed by the Indonesian armed forces against Achehnese in the past three decades. But with the recent development, Acheh will be once again in the iron grip of Jakarta through the bloodstained hands of these former generals.



Political issue


Acheh Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF) founded by Dr. Tengku Hasan di Tiro in 1976, is the sole legitimate liberation struggle, deeply grounded in history, international law and convention, seeking for an independent Acheh from Indonesian neo-colonialism. We believe that the root of problem of Acheh is political and should be solved politically. Therefore, without going back to the root of the matter, the violations of human rights in Acheh will never improve. The problem of Acheh should be resolved through the principles of the right to self-determination of the Achehnese people to determine their own future.


About sixty years ago, country-members of the United Nations adopted a resolution with regard to solving human rights issue: “The right of peoples and nations for self-determination is a preliminary condition of full realization of human rights” (UN Resolution 637-A, 16 Dec. 1952). As conventional wisdom has it, that there will be no peace without justice and there will be no justice without the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. And the human rights can not be fully, accountably realized if the right of a people to self-determination is denied.


ASNLF is deeply concerned that the political development in the post election will create strong dissatisfaction among the candidates who have lost unfairly, which in turn could lead to instability and might cause the conflict to flare up again.


The political situation in our fatherland is such that in the absence of war there are mountains of the problem to be solved. And we have no reason to believe that the situation in Acheh has a positive guarantee for the protection from persecution and intimidation of Achehnese political rights and national identity. For opposition, Acheh still a dangerous place to live in.



Chairman of the Presidium

Acheh-Sumatra National Liberation Front


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