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Aceh Deal Leaves Left Exiles in Cold

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  • johnmacdougall@comcast.net
    From Aboeprijadi Santoso ... Aceh deal left the Left out in the cold By Aboeprijadi Santoso, Amsterdam. The amnesty offered to GAM (Free
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2005
      From Aboeprijadi Santoso <tossi20@...>


      Aceh deal left the Left out in the cold

      By Aboeprijadi Santoso, Amsterdam.

      The amnesty offered to GAM (Free Aceh Movement) rebels following the
      Helsinki peace accord - indeed, that accord itself - is a case of
      reconciliation between post-authoritarian Indonesia and one former
      adversary. For the first time, a deal has been stroked with one of
      New Order's fiercest enemies and victims. However, Suharto political
      machinery's biggest victim is still the forgotten political left of
      the sixties - at home and exiled. In Europe, the exiles are at pain
      to learn that GAM rebels, who had fought against the state they
      helped found, defend and still love, have received amnesty and
      regained civil rights, which they could only long for.

      "No one should touch the existing state of Indonesia from Sabang to
      Merauke because the Acehnese were not spectators, but took part in
      the revolutionary struggle of 1945," said `Bahrum Salman'. Bahrum's
      real identity, he disclosed to Radio Netherlands, is Cut Husein Fatly
      of Tapaktuan, one of the three Acehnese who set up the first Aceh
      branch of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1956. His comrades were
      killed in the mid-sixties as were his wife and 11 other women in what
      was known as Aceh Gerwani (PKI women movement) massacre.

      Cut left for China in 1964 and moved to Amsterdam in 1980. At 85, he
      retains his nationalistic fervor, helps promoting Indonesian dances
      in Europe and proudly celebrated the 60th independence-day at the
      Ambassador's residence in Wassenaar.

      For Cut, Hasan M. di Tiro's GAM is no different from Daud Beureu'eh's
      Darul Islam. "They wanted to change this state, so I resisted." Like
      the late poet Agam Wispi, he belong to the old guard of Acehnese
      defenders of Indonesian nationalism.

      Given the agony they went through since 1965, virtually all exiles
      predictably find Jakarta's deal with GAM "unjust" to them. Said Cut
      Husein, "we were the first victim (of the Army). A million of us had
      been killed!" He welcomes the peace, but warns "don't let the
      Acehnese be intimidated by the GAM and killed by the Army. Let them
      think freely."

      Tom Iljas, 66, another exile from West Sumatra living in Stockholm,
      is also upset. A young man from Painan, he joined campaign against
      the PRRI regional rebellion in the mid-fifties. The local authorities
      were impressed and recommended him for a scholar-ship to study in
      China. His only "sin" was apparently that he joined the pro-Sukarno
      student organization (PPI) in Beijing � thus, he lost his Indonesian

      As GAM rebels returning to the society with some rewards, Tom said,
      he welcomes the peace "with pain". "I'm jealous because they took
      arm, yet become normal, respectable citizens. We didn't take arm,
      (but) our rights were robbed without being tried. No rebels were
      treated like us. Look at (PRRI leader Col.) Ahmad Husein, the state
      facilitated his business."

      An Indonesian diplomat in Stockholm said "may be you should first
      take arm and rebel." That's "a cynical joke," said Tom, who often met
      with GAM leaders in the city but keeps a distance because "we are on
      different sides."

      Francisca Fangidaey, 80, another exile with undoubted patriotic
      credentials, is "astonished" about Jakarta's deal with GAM. It
      means, "we, the exiles, are regarded as traitors, that hurts me
      deeply." A Dutch educated Floresian woman, who "felt Dutch and
      thought completely in Dutch (when the Dutch ban Malay)," Francisca
      said, "the first Indonesian words I learned were Bung Karno, Bung
      Hatta and merdeka (freedom)." She became a heroin of independence war
      as she joined young militants in Java and sought supports abroad.

      Now living in Zeist, the Netherlands, Ibu Sisca hopes President
      Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration will bring changes. "Opening
      a dialog and returning our passports are the least he should do to
      us," she said, adding that other issues like indemnification and
      political party are "of secondary importance".

      The agony of being left out in the cold is related to the Cold War
      that is apparently far from over at home. At the same time, unlike
      the GAM, they have nothing to bargain with � no arms, no guerilla's,
      no territory, no homeland, no tsunami.

      It's a hard reality for the exiles, whom President Abdurrachman `Gus
      Dur' Wahid once called "the wandering freedom fighters". As the three
      cases above show, they are remaining loyal and emoti- onally attached
      to their country, but have practically lost a homeland and their
      civil rights at that.

      It reflects the traumatic legacy of the mid-sixty killings and
      persecutions that remains unresolved. A few hundreds of exiles across
      Europe lost their citizenships upon refusing to sign loyalty to Gen.
      Soeharto, April 1966, after the military attaches took over R.I.
      embassies in China and former Soviet bloc. Most R.I. presidents had
      since asked them to return home, with Gus Dur being the only one, who
      tried to help them regain their rights, but failed.

      "That's because of Yusril," said Wijanto, an exiled lawyer in
      Utrecht, the Netherlands, pointing out that then Minister of Justice
      Yusril Ihza Mahendra had actually obstructed President Gus Dur's ins-
      truction despite Yusril's own acknowledgment that the revocation of
      their passports was unlawful.

      Meanwhile, critics said, leftwing exiles tend to be more interested
      in their own issues. While enthusiastic about Asia-African
      solidarities during the sixties, they oddly took for granted New
      Order's brutal occupation of East Timor � except a few like Umar Said
      and J.J. Kusni in Paris, who helped found Europe's first pro-Timor

      Thus, a narrowed nationalistic spirit among many has
      misled "patriotic" views on East Timor, Aceh and Papua. Ironically,
      this has strengthened the very discourse of the New Order apparatuses
      that continue to frame and perceive the problems in terms of
      separatism, territorial integrity and war. In reality, the issues
      reflect a complex nexus of injustice, human dignity and collective
      identity - in addition to vital resources.

      Just as it is a principled matter to respect the legitimate rights of
      all New Order victims, it's important to review the discourse of
      state-nationalism as a legacy of Suharto's New Order.

      One needs, that is, to conceptually deconstruct the N.K.R.I.
      discourse � the unitary state with the "K" from Kesatuan (unit) being
      the militaristic-turned-sacred concept � in order to revive the
      original, pluralist discourse of "R.I" (Republic of Indonesia) that
      gave birth to this nation-state sixty years ago.

      The writer is a journalist with Radio Netherlands.


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