Untitled Document

Introduction

The story of Aceh is that of a human tragedy which unfolded over successive phases. The Acehnese first fought against the Dutch colonialists (1873–1903) and then against the central government after Indonesian independence. The battle against the Indonesian state involved the Darul Islam rebellion (1953–1962) as well as the Free Aceh Movement (1976–2005), which is commonly referred to as the GAM.[1] The conflict resulted in a large number of casualties, the deterioration of infrastructure and psychological harm. However, after a series of failed peace efforts, the Government of Indonesia and the GAM made a historic and dignified step by signing a peace agreement on 15 August 2005 in Helsinki, ending the violent conflict after more than three decades.

The biggest challenge for the GAM in the post-Helsinki period involved transforming itself from a rebel movement into a political party.[2] Given that the Helsinki Peace Agreement required the GAM to disband itself, former GAM rebels turned their separatist organization into a democratic and peaceful one[3] called the Aceh Party (Partai Aceh), which was later re-named the GAM Party (Partai Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) and, finally, the Independent Aceh Movement Party (Partai Gerakan Aceh Mandiri).[4] The party, which was founded in June 2007 in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, is largely administered by the former leaders of the independence movement. For instance, Muzakkir Manaf, the former supreme commander of the Aceh National Armed Forces (Tentara Nasioanl Aceh/TNA), the GAM’s military wing, was elected as the chairman of the party after serving as the province’s deputy governor.

Allowing GAM members to compete for political power in the province – fully independent of existing Indonesian political parties – was one of the vital parts of the peace deal. Hence, combatants re-invented themselves as politicians, administrators, businessmen and contractors.[5] This transformation was facilitated by the victories of key candidates affiliated with Aceh Party, Irwandi Yusuf and Muhammad Nazar, in the successive 2006 and 2009 provincial election; other candidates nominated by the Party were selected as the mayors of Acehnese regencies, including Aceh Jaya, Sabang, Pidie, Pidie Jaya, Bireun, North Aceh, Lhokseumawe, East Aceh, West Aceh, and South Aceh.[6] In addition, the Party collected 33 seats (48%) out of the 69 available seats in the Aceh Parliament (DPR Aceh).[7]

Although peace has been attained and the Acehnese people have now returned to a more normal life since the 2005 Helsinki Peace Agreement, levels of violence remain high.[8] Reaching the peace agreement did not automatically cement the peace and eliminate potential for further conflict. The transitional period in Aceh has produced a new social arena for competition and created particular patterns of conflict.

While a number of studies have been conducted concerning the post-Helsinki peace-building process (e.g. Aguswandi 2008; Askandar 2007; Aspinall 2008, 2009; Barron 2008; Feith 2007; Iyer & Mitchel 2007), less attention has been paid to the emerging conflicts in the province. This article dissects those conflicts, which could seriously threaten the process of establishing a sustainable peace in the region. In this regards, this study addresses the following questions: What are the general patterns of conflict appearing in the post-Helsinki period? What is the root cause of each pattern of the conflict? And who are the actors involved in each conflict pattern?

In responding to these questions, I first illustrate the historical dynamic of the GAM, providing the background to the protracted Aceh conflict. Then, I examine how the Government of Indonesia and GAM successfully reached a historic deal by signing the Helsinki Peace Agreement. Finally, I explore the emerging patterns of conflict which emerged as former GAM rebels transformed themselves into bureaucrats. The data presented here is primarily drawn from several open-ended interviews with former GAM members, Acehnese scholars and ethnic and religious leaders.

Free Aceh Movement: The Emergence, Leadership, and Revival

The GAM came into being in December 1976, following the issuance of its “Declaration of Independence of Aceh-Sumatra”. The movement also became internationally known as the ASNLF (Aceh Sumatra National Liberation Front) or NLFAS (National Liberation Front of Acheh-Sumatra). The GAM began when the movement’s “founding father”, Teungku Hasan di Tiro, declared Aceh’s independence. Like other Acehnese people, Tiro was also a supporter of the Indonesian nation and dreamed of an Indonesian federation.[9] Tiro moved to New York, where he worked part time at the Indonesian mission to the United Nations. However, he left his post to support the Darul Islam rebellion in Aceh in 1953.[10] He later served as an overseas representative of the Islam-based rebellion.[11] Tiro’s active engagement in the Darul Islam rebellion had made him “become openly critical of Indonesia” and Indonesian forces, which he later accused of genocide.[12]

In addition to Tiro, the GAM’s leadership comprised relatively privileged elites, including Mukhtar J. Hasbi, Husaini M. Hasan, and Zaini Abdullah. The initial leadership of the movement mainly consisted of young professionals and intellectuals, such as doctors, engineers, politicians, and businessmen. Many of its followers had fought in the Darul Islam Rebellion (1953–1962).[13] At the outset, the movement was weak and small, probably involving no more than 200 active members moving around in the mountains of Aceh.[14] The declaration of Acehnese independence in 1976 probably involved only 24 leaders.[15] During this period, the GAM’s activities were primarily concerned with producing and distributing pamphlets which outlined their aims and ideals.[16] Since its establishment, a large number of Acehnese people had been members of the Diaspora, or were refugees, abroad and contributed to the GAM. For instance, in 2001, the Acehnese Diaspora was estimated to consist of between 2,000 and 3,000 people in Malaysia and another 8,000 permanently residing in Thailand, Australia, Europe, and North America.[17]

The Government of Indonesia quickly responded to Aceh’s declaration of independence with the mass arrest and killing of GAM members.[18] At this stage, since the GAM possessed few weapons and members, it was very easy for the strong and well-equipped Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) to suppress the movement quickly.[19] As a result, by 1981, ten of the original 24 signatories to the declaration of independence had been killed by the TNI in an attempt to crush and wipe out the movement before its ideals and ideology could take hold. The 1976 crackdown by the Indonesian military made GAM members go underground or move abroad (Kingsbury & Fernandes 2008, p. 96). The movement seemed to have been crushed by 1982, with most of its leaders either killed, in exile, or in prison.[20]

While living in exile, Tiro and other GAM leaders consolidated and solidified the movement by sending their members to Libya for military training, lobbying the international community, and developing their ideological rhetoric, methods, and strategy.[21] GAM then experienced the first major revival by resurfacing in 1989.

The movement re-emerged with a greater number of better and more organized soldiers due to their military and ideological training in Libya, which started in 1986.[22] Upon their return to Aceh, the trained fighters vigorously renewed their activities, trained local volunteers, and purchased better military equipment, reportedly with Libyan assistance.[23] With weapons purchased from Indonesian soldiers or, later on, taken off of captured troops, the “Libyan graduates” started a military campaign by attacking isolated police and military posts, camps, and installations. The attacks were often conducted to capture weapons from the Indonesian troops and to signal the movement’s resurgence.[24]

To counter this new threat, the Government of Indonesia quickly responded by declaring Aceh as Daerah Operasi Militer (a Military Operations Area, or DOM) in 1989. The declaration of Aceh as a DOM by the government was a response to the sudden increase in GAM’s strength, and the classification was intended to counter its renewed capacity and propensity for violence. It was claimed that by the end of 1991, or somewhat later, the Indonesian troops had successfully crushed the rebellion and killed or captured most of its top leaders and commanders.[25] As of late 1996, the Government of Indonesia officially announced that the counter-insurgency operations had effectively destroyed GAM (Global Security 2006). The declaration of the DOM in Aceh reportedly generated casualties. The DOM status was accompanied by interrogations, intimidation, arrests, and indiscriminate or mysterious civilians killings.[26]

Despite such setbacks, the movement enjoyed its second revival in 1999 with a drastic increase in membership and an expansion of its territorial base.[27] The ending of Aceh’s DOM status in 1998 – largely due to the Asian monetary crisis of 1997 – was accompanied by the substantial withdrawal of Kopassus (the Indonesian Special Armed Forces). The authoritarian New Order regime in Indonesia collapsed in 1998, thus bringing about a period of transition. Indonesia’s transitional period, which was marked by a relatively open political atmosphere, brought huge opportunities and enabled GAM members to express their discontents and unhappiness with Jakarta, strengthen their demands for independence, and consolidate their activities and strategies.[28] However, it is important to underline that the GAM’s 1999 second revival was also possible given the failure of the central government to address the underlying economic and social grievances in Aceh by 1998.[29]

The Dynamics of the Helsinki Peace Agreement

The signing of the Helsinki Peace Agreement on 15 August 2005, ending the approximately 32 years of armed conflict in Aceh, was a crucial part of the history of the GAM and offered a ray of hope for Acehnese people. Diverse expressions, such as the “courageous and constructive step”, the “peaceful solution with dignity for all”, and “the best and most effective vehicle to embody the dream of Acehnese”,[30] have all been used to describe the peace agreement.

A number of prominent scholars have recognized the effect of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004 on the successful peace deal in Aceh.[31] The natural disaster flattened the province, resulting in huge casualties and widespread destruction. Aceh was broadly known as the worst hit area by the earthquake-triggered tsunami. It is reported that between 150,000 and 200,000 Acehnese people died or went missing, while the survivors were left in desperate need of food, shelter, and basic medical facilities.[32] The natural disaster also helped give rise to the 2005 Helsinki Peace Agreement. The magnitude of suffering felt by the Acehnese people helped GAM and the Indonesian government to agree to return the negotiating table.[33]

Mediation proved to be effective in peacefully resolving the protracted Aceh conflict. The historic peace talks, which took place in Helsinki between 28 January and 12 July 2005, were mediated by the Crisis Management Institute. In particular, Marti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish prime minister and the director of the institute, was appointed as the principle mediator of the peace negotiation.[34] Ahtisaari was convinced that the Aceh conflict should be treated as an asymmetric conflict.[35] Ahtisaari believed that the Government of Indonesia would never accept the GAM’s demand for independence and urged the GAM negotiators to accept “realism”. As a result, rather than discussing the GAM’s demand for independence, Ahtisaari was immensely engaged in realizing a package of special autonomy.[36] He openly pushed the GAM delegation to accept the package and threatened them with the withdrawal of international support for the movement if they did not.[37] Ahtisaari’s strong leadership during the negotiation process played an important part in the overall success of the peace negotiations.

The issue of independence was not set aside until the negotiation came to the third round. During the five rounds of the peace talks, the establishment of local political parties for Aceh had grabbed most of the participants’ focus. The GAM delegation particularly believed that the establishment of local political parties in Aceh was crucial since the Indonesian national parties are mostly controlled from Jakarta and thus cannot represent their interests.[38] It was strongly held by the GAM delegation that the establishment of local political parties would not only symbolize their identity but would also safeguard their dignity.[39]

Relative to the previous failed peace efforts, the Helsinki Peace Agreement is often seen as more comprehensive and reflective. It offered a more comprehensive political solution to the conflict rather than just focusing on the cessation of violence on the ground. For instance, the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of the ex-combatants emerged as an important element which was eventually captured in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). In addition, it established complete special autonomy for Aceh within the Republic of Indonesia and allowed GAM’s transformation into a political party.[40]

Aceh Party and the Emerging New Pattern of Conflict

The Helsinki Peace Agreement had a tremendous effect on the lives of the former GAM rebels. Through the new political Aceh Party, a number of the former rebels have occupied various prestigious and strategic political and social positions and won many lucrative contracts during the post-conflict reconstruction process in the province. The new emerging circle of power and the social structure in the province have given rise to internal antagonism and social conflict. In particular, the establishment of Aceh Party by the former rebels is specifically viewed as also having produced conflict among former GAM members. In short, conflict in post-Helsinki Aceh follows three common patterns. The first pattern is related to the economic competition and political contestation among the former GAM elites. The second one involves antagonism and anger between former GAM combatants and elites. The third pattern involves ethnic hostility between the dominant Acehnese ethnic group, who were prominent supporter of the GAM, and the diverse non-Acehnese ethnic groups, who were generally opponents of GAM. The following sections delve further into the three conflict patterns along with the causes of each.

Among the former GAM elites

The first conflict – struggle and rivalry among the former GAM elites – originates in the personal interests of the former top GAM officials. The competition among the elites over political positions, privileges, facilities, business activities, and contracts with major state-owned enterprises[41] have been a major source of factionalism and antagonism. The GAM elites’ self-interests became more and more manifest in the post-conflict environment. They greatly benefited from their positions in the movement’s hierarchical structure.[42] Through the Aceh Party, the elites captured the top positions in Aceh province and became active in various business sectors backed by their freshly acquired political positions and connections.

This conflict emerged as the GAM sought to divide the spoils of war. For instance, Nur Djuli, the senior GAM negotiator at the Helsinki peace talks, is currently chair of Badan Reintegrasi Aceh (the Aceh Re-integration Agency) and therefore receives a high income and other special privileges provided by the Agency. Nurdin Abdur Rahman, another GAM negotiator and the former GAM leader in Malaysia and Australia, is currently acting as the director of Aceh World Trade Center (AWTC). Muzakkir Manaf, the former supreme commander of TNA (the armed wing of GAM), became CEO of Pulo Gadeng, a major contracting company. Sofyan Dawood, the former TNA commander in North Aceh and GAM’s spokesperson, has won several high-value contracts.[43] This overt and self-interested competition has generated conflict among the former elites. Mundhir, a former GAM elite, who became an important administrator in Aceh, observed how the embedded self-interests generate conflict among the GAM elites:

“I could not deny that many also fought for their self-interests, which might take diverse forms, positions, properties, favorable economic activities, etc. Many might also wish that they could become Pegawai Negeri Sipil/PNS (the governmental civil servants), Camat (sub-district head), Bupati (district mayor), or Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Aceh/DPRA (Aceh Provincial Parliament) and many others. Whatever goals and intentions they had in their minds did not have to be a problem for GAM as long as they struggled and made significant sacrifices for GAM and finally brought about the victory for the movement. The split and conflict among a few GAM elites after the peace agreement was probably just the ripple effect of the self-interest competitions among them. However, a large number of us were ignorant about our self-interests; and thereby were not really involved in the split.”[44]

Figure 1 summarizes some of the former GAM elites’ currently collected rewards/benefits that are often considered to be equivalent to their positions in the movement’s past hierarchical structure.


Position in GAM

Post-Helsinki Position

GAM spokesperson

The governor of Aceh (2007–2012)

The GAM Minister of State and the GAM peace talks delegation leader

The governor of Aceh (2012–2017)

Civil/Ideological Trainer

Deputy Governor of Aceh (2007–2012)

Supreme Commander of TNA (Aceh National Armed Forces)

CEO of Pulo Gadeng Holding Company; recently elected to be Deputy Governor of Aceh (2012–2017)

GAM spokesperson

Recipients of valuable contracts for post-conflict reconstruction projects

GAM negotiator

Chair of Badan Reintegrasi Aceh (The Aceh Re-integration Agency)

GAM negotiator

Director of Aceh World Trade Centre

GAM negotiator

Prominent private sector figure

Fig. 1: Translation of GAM Authority into Post-Helsinki Privilege

In addition, the appointment of the GAM-aligned candidate running for the provincial-level executive election has caused a further rift between the generations of GAM elites. Ahmad Humam Hamid, a prominent local academic affiliated with the national (Indonesia-wide) United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangnan), ran for the provincial executive position with Hasbi Abdullah, a fellow academic and former political prisoner. The men’s candidacy was widely supported by the old GAM generation. However, the GAM’s military commanders and younger members refused to support them given that they had entered into a coalition with a national political party, the United Development Party. Two other former GAM elites took advantage of the division to announce their intent to contest the top position. Ultimately Hamid and Abdullah were selected as the governor and the deputy governor of Aceh (2007–2012). While they have been supported, even among younger and grassroots members, the incident showed the extent of competition among the former GAM elites.[45]

The elite conflict does not only take place in the political sphere but also involves economic competition over high-value tenders and contracts linked to the post-conflict reconstruction process. The competition for the projects generates antagonism and even hostility among the former GAM elites. As Sulaiman, one of the former GAM members who used to get involved in competitions for lucrative post-conflict reconstruction projects, stated:

“For example, there were five people backed by the GAM elites competing for a project tender. The winner of the project tender was often opposed by the 4 losers. As a result, their GAM-based friendship was further turned to be an antagonism and resentment between the losing and the winning GAM members. It was always the way the project tender worked on the ground. Those who won the projects often possessed close political or personal networking and connections with specific GAM elites, such as Gajah Keng people or other commanders, although their project proposals were not qualified enough. A Darussalam person joining a project tender in Sigli was supposed to be backed by the GAM elites based in Sigli. Otherwise, he/she would lose in bidding for the project. Once somebody won a project, he/she was supposed to share the revenues of the project with the GAM elites who previously backed the project. It seemed to be a common rule for every project competition in Aceh. It was almost impossible to win a project in Aceh without having the GAM elite’s support and backing.”[46]

The entry of a large number of GAM members into bureaucracy, following the incredible winning of Aceh Party in the provincial election, has created a new circle of power and lucrative patronage networks in Aceh,[47] thereby deconstructing the existing constellation of political power in the province. The newly crafted circle of power then steers economic opportunities to former GAM elites. Moreover, the project bidding system in Aceh, which reflects the local culture of nepotism and corruption (that long predated the Helsinki Peace Agreement), has produced a new sort of horizontal conflict and antagonism among former GAM elites. That is, the transition from war to peace provided new economic and political resources for the Acehnese people and, in the process, generated a new structure of conflict.

Between the former GAM rank-and-file combatants and the former GAM elites

The next conflict pattern involves the emergence of resentment among former GAM combatants of the movement’s elites. The conflict is generally produced by the inequitable distribution of the rewards between the elites and the rank-and-file combatants in the post-Helsinki period. Former elites appear ignorant of or unconcerned with the living condition of former rank-and-file combatants, most of whom are unemployed and living in poverty. The political economy of the post-conflict period in Aceh has yielded rewards for GAM elites but not for the former rank-and-file combatants. This gap in benefits has led to a newly emerging conflict rooted in inequality. As Masnan, a former combatant based in East Aceh Regency, stated:

“My former commander had some construction projects. Sadly, he never shared with me and other members. He had already forgotten his members once he had the project. We all together fought the TNI (the Indonesian National Armed Forces) and lived in the same camp during our guerilla war. During the conflict, we all often shared only one peace of cigarette and also shared the foods since we had no more in the jungle. He enjoyed himself all the money, owned many exclusive homes and rode a luxurious car. He did not care about his members any longer. I think most of the commanders did the same thing. They did not care about the former GAM rank-and-file members. I was very sad and frustrated. If only the conflict happens again, the rank-and-file members would not be willing to go to war again since they had been very disappointed.”[48]

Some former GAM rank-and-file members, especially those who still illegally kept their weapons, engage in criminal acts such as kidnapping, intimidation of foreign workers, and thievery. The criminal acts are primarily intended either to attract the elites’ attentions or to taint the elites’ public images and reputations.[49] During the conflict with the Indonesian government, solidarity among GAM members was maintained through mutual support. However, once the conflict ended, the solidarity among the elites and ordinary combatants broke down.

Between the ethnic Acehnese majority and the various ethnic minority groups

The last emerging conflict pattern in the post-Helsinki period involves ethnic antagonism and hostility between the ethnic Acehnese, who were the major supporters of the GAM, and the various ethnic minority groups, including Gayo, Alas, Tamiang, Aneuk Jamee, Kluet, Singkil and Simeulue ethnic groups, who generally opposed the GAM in the past. This conflict predates the signing of the peace agreement. Ethnic Acehnese make up about 80 % of the total population of Aceh and are concentrated in the regencies located in the north coastal areas of the province.

Ethnic stratification in Aceh, which also occasionally appears on other Indonesia’s islands, has produced a specific situation that places one ethnic group as more privileged and prioritized than the others. Ethnic division in Aceh has created some prejudices and, in most of the cases, resulted in antagonism and hostility between the ethnic Acehnese majority and the various ethnic minority groups. The minority ethnic groups in Aceh, particularly Gayo, Singkil, and Alas people, have long been socio-politically marginalized and isolated by the ethnic Acehnese majority,[50] a fact which led them to oppose the GAM. Najmuddin, one of the prominent leaders of Alas ethnic group, shared his experience:

“The Acehnese people often treated us like we were not part of Aceh province. They often looked down and disvalued the ethnic minority groups by using various methods. When we were in Banda Aceh and tried to normally mingle with the Acehnese people, we felt that we were not Acehnese because of their discriminations. Other Alas people also felt the same thing when they were in Banda Aceh, the capital. When I was a child, I was often told by my parents that we were not Acehnese. If there were Acehnese people here, they would be isolated. The similar situation applied in Pidie. Some of the Alas people were isolated there. We were always frustrated if we had some administrative duties to do in Banda Aceh. We were just ignored and inappropriately welcome if we could not speak Acehnese. The officers there would not serve us if we used Indonesian Bahasa. My Alas friends often asked my help if they had some affairs to manage in Banda Aceh as I could speak a little bit Acehnese.”[51]

The ethnic tensions have been transmitted across generations in the province. They have also manifested themselves in politics. As Nurdin, one of the Gayonese ethnic leaders and academics, pointed out:

“When the Acehnese were betrayed by Jakarta for the first time in the 1950s, they started behaving discourteously and meanly towards the non-Acehnese ethnic groups. They treated us in the Aceh province like the way Jakarta treated them. They obviously adopted the way Jakarta discriminated them for marginalizing us. Their discriminatory measures and policies especially included the restriction and/or the reduction of the budgets of the local governments of the various ethnic minority groups’ regencies. They also often assigned the ethnic Acehnese people as the district heads or mayors of the [minorities’] regencies. The method was very much similar to the way Jakarta appointed the Javanese people as mayors in most of the Aceh’s regencies.”[52]

Unfortunately, the issue of ethnic discrimination in Aceh is poorly covered either by the mass media or scholarly research.[53] The media’s coverage of the Aceh conflict concealed the issue and used the word Acehnese to refer to residents of Aceh without differentiating among the various ethnic groups.[54] Studies of Aceh tend to view Acehnese as a singular group of people living in the Aceh province,[55] thereby failing to portray the ethno-political structure of conflict in the post-Helsinki period.

Socio-political marginalization has frustrated ethnic minority groups and, as a consequence, led them to demand for the establishment of administrative sub-units.[56] The idea of Aceh Leuser Antara Province (abbreviated as ALA) is primarily designed to include Central Aceh, Bener Meriah, Gayo Lues, Southeast Aceh, Subulussalam and Aceh Singkil Regencies, where the ethnic minorities of Gayo, Alas, and Singkil are concentrated. Moreover, the proposed Aceh Barat Selatan Province (abbreviated as ABAS) includes Aceh Jaya, West Aceh, Nagan Raya, Southwest Aceh, Simeulue, and South Aceh Regencies, which are home to other ethnic minorities. The increasingly emerging demand for the regional partitions in Aceh is not a trivial issue; it is indeed a serious challenge for the process of seeking a sustainable peace in the region.[57] Demands for such provisions reveal horizontal ethnic hostility – and the potential for conflict – between the majority and the minority ethnic groups.

Conclusion

Resolving the Aceh conflict resulted in the emergence of new social and political opportunities and competition over them. The transformation of the GAM elites into an administrative, political, and private-sector elite has created a new circle of power in Aceh, which situates the former GAM leaders at its center. This new circle of power enables not only the distribution of the economic and political rewards among the GAM members but also gives rise to new patterns of conflict in the post-Helsinki period. Clearly, reaching a peace deal does not automatically eliminate all forms of conflict; rather, it brings “the old conflict” to an end and marks the starting point of new conflict patterns. Such conflicts are potentially detrimental and costly and, in the long run, may undermine the process of seeking a sustainable peace in the region if not managed well by the province’s leaders through existing democratic institutions.

NOTES

1 A body of works have largely discussed the nature, trajectory and the root cause of the conflicts, including Edward Aspinall, Islam and nation: separatist rebellion in Aceh, Indonesia, (Stanford: Stanford University Press); and the historical and political background to the Aceh conflict. In Askandar, K. & Chee, A.M. (eds.), Building peace in Aceh: problems, strategies, and lessons from Sri Lanka, and Northern Ireland, Proceedings of the International Symposium, (Bangkok: Mahidol University, 2004), p. 31–42.; Kamarulzaman Askandar, The Aceh conflict: phases of conflict and hopes for peace. In Tan, A.T.H. (ed.), A handbook of terrorism and insurgency in Southeast Asia, (Massachusetts: Edward Eigal Publishing Limited, 2007), p. 249–265; Kirsten E. Schulze, The Free Aceh Movement (GAM): Anatomy of a Separatist Organization, in Policy Studies 2, (Washington: East West Center, 2004); Michael L. Ross, Resources and rebellion in Aceh, Indonesia, In Collier, P. & Sambanis, N. (eds.). Understanding civil war: evidence and analysis, (Washington: The World Bank, 2005), p. 35–58; Michelle Ann Miller, Rebellion and reform in Indonesia: Jakarta’s security and autonomy policies in Aceh, (New York: Routledge, 2009); C. van Dijk, Rebellion under the banner of Islam: The Darul Islam Indonesia, (Leiden: Koninklijk Instituut Voor Taal-, Land-en Volkenhunde, 1981) and many others.

2 Kamarulzaman Askandar, The Aceh conflict: phases of conflict and hopes for peace. In Tan, A.T.H. (ed.). A handbook of terrorism and insurgency in Southeast Asia (Massachusetts: Edward Eigal Publising Limited, 2007), p. 257.

3 See Edward Aspinall, Pemilihan umum: konsolidasi perdamaian. In Aguswandi & Large, J. (eds.). Accord: rekonfigurasi politik proses damai Aceh (London: Conciliation Resources Publication, issue 20, 2008), pp. 50–54.

4 Berita Sore, May 22, 2008.

5 See Edward Aspinall, Combatants to contractors: the political economy of peace in Aceh. In Journal of Indonesia. (Cornell Southeast Asia Program, Vol. 87, April 2009), pp. 1–34.

6 Aspinall, ibid., p. 9.

7 Media Indonesia, May 4, 2009.

8 See, for instance, International Crisis Group, Aceh: Post-Conflict Complications, (Asia Report, Number 139, October 4, 2007); Patrick Barron, Getting reintegration back on track: problems in Aceh and priorities for moving forward, a paper prepared for the conference “The Peace Process in Aceh: the Reminders of Violence and the Future of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam”, (Harvard University, October 24–24, 2007); International Crisis Group, Aceh: So Far So Good, Asia Briefing, Number 44, December 13, 2005); World Bank/DSF (Decentralization Support Facility), Aceh Conflict Monitoring Update, (September 1–30, 2007).

9 Jhon Martinkus, Indonesia’s secret war in Aceh, (Sydney: Random House Australia, 2004), p. 55.

10 Kirsten E. Schulze, ibid. 2007, p. 154; Jhon Martinkus, ibid. p. 156.

11 Kamarulzaman Askandar, ibid., p. 250.

12 Jhon Martinkus, ibid., p. 56.

13 Kirsten E. Schulze, ibid. 2004, pp. 10–11; ibid., 2007, p. 194; Edward Aspinall, ibid. 2009, p. 61.

14 Kamarulzaman Askandar, ibid. p. 250.

15 Tim Kell, The roots of Acehnese rebellion 1989–1992. (New York: Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, 1995), p. 65.

16 Jhon Martinkus, ibid., p. 44; Tim Kell, ibid., p. 66.

17 Michael L. Ross, Resources and rebellion in Aceh, Indonesia, In Collier, P. & Sambanis, N. (eds.). Understanding civil war: evidence and analysis, (Washington: the World Bank, 2005), p. 39.

18 Damien Kingsbury & Clinton Fernandez, Indonesia: Aceh. In Fernandes, C. (ed.). Hot Spot: Asia and Oceania. (Connecticut: Green Wood Press, 2008), p. 91; Geoffrey Robinson, Rawan is as Rawan does: the origins of disorder in New Order Aceh, In Anderson, B.R. (ed.). Violence and state in Suharto’s Indonesia, (New York: Cornell University Press, 2001), p. 216.

19 Edward Aspinall, The historical and political background to the Aceh conflict. In Askandar, K. & Chee, A.M. (eds.). Building peace in Aceh: problems, strategies, and lessons from Sri Lanka, and Northern Ireland. Proceedings of the International Symposium. (Bangkok: Mahidol University, Chulalangkorn University, Tammasat University, etc), p. 35; Pushpa Iyer & Christopher Mitchell, The collapse of peace zones in Aceh. In Hancock, L.E. & Mitchell, C. (eds.). Zones of peace. (West Hartford: Kumarian Press, 2007), p. 139; Kamarulzaman Askandar, ibid. p. 251.

20 Robinson, ibid., p. 216.

21 Jhon Martinkus, ibid., p. 59; Damien Kingsbury & Clinton Fernandes, ibid., p. 96; Kirsten E. Schulze, ibid., 2007, p. 197.

22 See Kirsten E. Schulze, ibid., 2004, p. 4; Damien Kingsbury & Clinton Fernandes, ibid., p. 96; Kamarulzaman Askandar, ibid., p. 251; Michael L. Ross, ibid., p. 43; Jhon Martinkus, ibid., p. 62; Geoffrey Robinson, ibid., p. 217.

23 Kirsten E. Schulze, ibid., 2007, p. 201.

24 See Jhon Martinkus, ibid., p. 62; Kamarulzaman Askandar, ibid., p. 251; Michael L. Ross, ibid., pp. 42–43; Kirsten E. Schulze, ibid., 2007, p. 201.

25 Geoffrey Robinson, ibid., p. 217; Damien Kingsbury & Clinton Fernandes, ibid., p. 97.

26 Michelle Ann Miller, Konfilik di Aceh: konteks, pemicu, katalis. In Aguswandi & Large, J. Accord: rekonfigurasi politik proses damai Aceh. (Issue 20. London: Conciliation Resources Publication), pp. 12–16; Majelis Pertimbangan GAM, Why Aceh Wants Independence from Colonialism of the Republic of Indonesia. (A document prepared by the Executive Council of the Free Aceh Movement, 1999); Damien Kingsbury & Clinton Fernandes, ibid., p. 96.

27 Kirsten E. Schulze, ibid., 2004, p. 16.

28 Kamarulzaman Askandar, ibid., p. 252; Konrad Huber, Jalan berliku menuju perdamaian Aceh. In Aguswandi & Large, J. (ed.). Accord: rekonfigurasi politik proses damai Aceh. (Issue 20. London: Conciliation Resources Publication), p. 17; Damien Kingsbury & Clinton Fernandes, ibid., p. 97.

29 Geoffrey Robinson, ibid., p. 239.

30 See Hamid Awaluddin, Peace in Aceh: notes on the peace process between the Republic of Indonesia and the Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM) in Helsinki. (Jakarta: CSIS, 2009); Crisis Management Initiative, 2006.

31 Those scholars include Rizal Sukma, Reolving the Aceh Conflict: the Helsinki Peace Agreement. Retrieved from: http://www.hdcenter.org/datastore/Mediators%20Retreats/Background%20Paper%204a%20Aceh.doc, on January 12, 2009; Judith Large & Aguswandi, Penempaan identitas, keniscayaan suara politik dan hak asasi manusia. In Aguswandi & Large, J. (eds.). Accord: rekonfigurasi politik proses damai Aceh. (London: Conciliation Resources Publication, Issue 20), pp. 6–7; Konrad Huber, Jalan berliku menuju perdamaian Aceh. In Aguswandi & Large, J. (ed.). Accord: rekonfigurasi politik proses damai Aceh. (London: Conciliation Resources Publication, Issue 20), pp. 16–17; Kamarulzaman Askandar, ibid., p. 248; Hamid Awaluddin, ibid., p. 31; Michelle Ann Miller, Rebellion and reform in Indonesia: Jakarta’s security and autonomy policies in Aceh. (New York: Routledge, 2009), p. 2; Kirsten E. Schulze, ibid., 2007, pp. 216–218; Edward Aspinall, ibid., 2009, p. 221, and many others.

32 Rizal Sukma, ibid., p. 5; Kamarulzaman Askandar, ibid., p. 255; Kirsten E. Schulze, ibid., 2007, p. 216.

33 Hamid Awaluddin, ibid., p. 236.

34 Ibid., pp. 1–10.

35 Muhammad Nur Djuli & Nurdin Abdur Rahman, Perundingan Helsinki: sebuah perspektif dari juru runding Gerakan Aceh Merdeka. In Aguswandi & Large, J. (ed.). Accord: rekonfigurasi politik proses damai Aceh. (London: Conciliation Resources Publication, 2008), p. 29.

36 Hamid Awaluddin, ibid., p. 83.

37 Ibid., pp. 239–253.

38 See Damien Kingsbury, The best choice for Aceh and Indonesia. In the Jakarta Post, July 13, 2005.

39 Hamid Awaluddin, ibid., p. 199.

40 Rizal Sukma, ibid., p. 3.

41 Patrick Barron, Mengelola sumber daya untuk perdamaian: rekonstruksi dan penciptaan perdamaian di Aceh. In Aguswandi & Large, J. (ed.). Accord: rekonfigurasi politik proses damai Aceh. (London: Conciliation Resources Publication, 2008), pp. 65–66.

42 See Edward Aspinall, ibid., 2009, p. 11.

43 See Edward Aspinall, ibid.; Patrick Barron, ibid.

44 Confidential interview, Banda Aceh, October 20, 2010.

45 See Edward Aspinall, ibid., 2008, pp. 50–51; Sidney Jones, Menjaga perdamaian: keamanan di Aceh. In Aguswandi & Large, J. (ed.). Accord: rekonfigurasi politik proses damai Aceh. (London: Conciliation Resources Publication, 2008), pp. 79–83.

46 Confidential interview, East Aceh, November 11, 2009.

47 See International Crisis Group, Aceh: post-conflict complications, (Asia Report, No. 139, October 4, 2007), p. i.

48 Confidential interview, East Aceh, February 10, 2010.

49 Zulfikar, one of the former GAM rank-and-file members, confidential interview, Lhoksumawe, November 14, 2010.

50 See, for example, Stefan Ehrentraut, Dividing Aceh? Minorities, Partition Movements and State-Reform in Aceh Province, Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series, No. 37, Aceh Working Paper Series, No. 6, May 10.

51 Confidential interview, Southeast Aceh, November 21, 2009.

52 Confidential interview, Central Aceh, December 12, 2009.

53 Michelle Ann Miller, ibid., 2009, p. 142, also noticed this issue as stating that “one under-reported dimension of the contemporary conflict in Aceh has been the sometimes strained relationship between Aceh’s ethnic minority groups and the ethnic Acehnese majority”. See also Stefan Ehrentraut, Dividing Aceh? Minorities, Partition Movements and State-Reform in Aceh Province, Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series, No. 37, Aceh Working Paper Series, No. 6, May 10.

54 Edward Aspinall, Islam and nation: separatist rebellion in Aceh, Indonesia. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), p. 4.

55 Michelle Ann Miller, ibid.

56 See International Crisis Group Report, 2005; Michelle Ann Miller, ibid.; Matt Davies, Indonesia’s war over Aceh: last stand on Mecca’s porch. (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. 52. It is also worth noting that the group often call themselves as Galaksi movement, an acronym of Aceh’s Gayo, Alas, Kluet and Sinkil indigenous ethnic minorities.

57 See Aguswandi, Proses politik di Aceh: sebuah awal baru?. In Aguswandi & Large, J. (ed.). Accord: rekonfigurasi politik proses damai Aceh. (London: Conciliation Resources Publication, 2008), pp. 56–57.

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