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Cablegate: Gam Founder Di Tiro: Aceh Party Political Instrument

VZCZCXRO2162
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #1957/01 2970905
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230905Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0396
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI 0935
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 3192
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 3452
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 2093
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001957

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
AIDAC

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MTS, INR/EAP
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS AID
USAID FOR ANE/EAA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL SOCI ID
SUBJECT: GAM FOUNDER DI TIRO: ACEH PARTY POLITICAL INSTRUMENT

Ref: Jakarta 1902

1. (SBU) Summary. Free Aceh Movement (GAM) founder Hasan di Tiro,
who returned to Aceh on October 11 in an historic visit some 30
years after he went into exile (reftel), continued his tour of Aceh
by visiting the graves of GAM fighters and attending numerous public
events including a large rally in Lhokseumawe on October 18.
83-year old di Tiro remains frail and has refrained from making any
lengthy comments to the public or media during his visit, relying
instead on surrogates from within the GAM movement. Increasingly,
his activities are being viewed as a political tool of the
GAM-founded Aceh Party to bolster support leading up to local
elections in April, 2009. While di Tiro himself maintains his
commitment to the 2005 Helsinki MoU that brought an end to the
conflict in Aceh and his visit has gone forward without incident,
Aceh Party supporters are also testing the limits of police and
military tolerance of their party's flag as a political symbol. The
ninth meeting of the Committee on Sustaining Peace in Aceh (CoSPA)
October 18 featured a litany of alleged violations on the part of
Aceh Party supporters presented by the military and police. End
Summary.

2. (U) On October 17 Hasan di Tiro concluded 4 days of events in
his home district of Pidie with a visit to his childhood school. In
the days prior he went to the location of his 1976 announcement of
the GAM movement, and visited the grave of Tengku Abdullah Syaffiie,
a luminary of the GAM movement who coordinated GAM military activity
until he was killed in 2002. Di Tiro added visits to the burial
sites of other senior GAM soldiers to his itinerary. On October 18
di Tiro departed for neighboring Bireun district to see sites where
he had stayed prior to fleeing Indonesia. Many locals reportedly
reacted emotionally to his presence and the roads were, according to
media reports, lined with his supporters. Indonesian police
supported the security for his activities without incident.

Crowds Flock to see di Tiro
---------------------------

3. (U) At midday on October 18 di Tiro attended an event in Desa
Kubu with former GAM "Prime Minister" Malikh Makhmud, former GAM
commander Muzakkir Manaf, and Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf. Di Tiro
reiterated his call for all Achenese to maintain the peace in Aceh
through a statement again read surrogate Malikh Makhmud. From Desa
Kubu the group proceeded to Lhokseumawe and North Aceh past
roadsides again packed with people who had come to see the 30-car
convoy pass. In the town of Lhokseumawe crowds estimated at some
2,000 people gathered at a field to hear di Tiro speak. Once again
the speech was read by Malikh Makhmud, and local religious leaders
also arrived and publicly gave their support to di Tiro. During the
following public prayer several KPA (Aceh Transition Committee
organization for ex-GAM) members formed a line and held up a banner
asking for "political prisoners" held by the central government to
be freed. The banner was up for only a few seconds and was rolled up
prior to the end of the prayer.

Praise for SBY, Kalla
---------------------

4. (U) di Tiro continued his tour of areas in Aceh by meeting
crowds at a rally in Peruelak on Sunday, October 19. In remarks read
for him by former GAM "Foreign Minister" Zaini Abdullah he mentioned
special thanks to Aceh Monitoring Mission Chairman Peter Faith,
former Finnish President Marthi Ahtisaari, the U.S. government,
Japanese government, and all others in the international community
who supported the 2005 Helsinki MoU. Di Tiro also thanked the
Indonesian government and especially recognized President Yudhoyono
and Vice President Kalla. The speech also urged groups who are
against the MoU to think with "rational and cool heads" and follow
di Tiro's advice to stay together and maintain peace with the
others. Di Tiro was also quoted by the media on October 18 saying
that "the sacrifices made during the war were tremendous, but the
sacrifices needed to keep the peace are greater still. Thus, I urge
all Acehnese to think about Aceh together to reach a better more
prosperous future."

Health Concerns Remain
----------------------

JAKARTA 00001957 002 OF 002

5. (SBU) Questions continue to be raised about the state of di
Tiro's health. According to GAM member Fauzi, di Tiro's nephew, he
is unable to speak in long sentences, usually simply replying yes or
no and nodding or shaking his head. Fauzi told Consulate Medan
during the 9th CoSPA meeting on October 18 that the inner circle of
GAM monitors di Tiro's contacts and screens him from outsiders. An
Aceh Reconstruction Agency (BRR) government contact from Lhokseumwe
said that access badges are provided for those who wanted to see di
Tiro but that it is very hard to set any schedule to speak with him.
The Chief of North Aceh Police, Zulkifli, confirmed Fauzi's
statement regarding di Tiro's isolation. Media reports from the
October 19 event in Pereulak (para 4) characterized di Tiro as
"visibly exhausted".

Government Concerned over Aceh Party
------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Local police and military commanders from northern Aceh
openly questioned the motives of the Aceh Party in the lead-up and
execution of di Tiro's visit to Aceh at the 9th CoSPA meeting
attended by an observer from Consulate Medan in Lhokseumawe on
October 18. They provided photographic evidence of the Aceh Party
repainting a small bridge in the party's colors, flying the party
flag above the Indonesian flag, and local politicians putting Aceh
Party logos on state vehicles. Military and police attending the
meeting, along with the Jakarta-based Forum for Communication and
Coordination (FKK) added that di Tiro's visits and entourage
consisting of GAM "commanders" calls into question the sincerity of
the organization to renounce armed conflict and transform itself
into a purely political movement through the Aceh Party.

7. (SBU) During the CoSPA on October 18 participants also discussed
the reason for the cancellation of the proposed meeting between
Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Hasan di Tiro. A letter
from GAM inviting Kalla to meet di Tiro in Aceh was circulated at
the meeting, depicting the GAM letterhead from Stockholm, Sweden but
signed in Banda Aceh. The assertion of the FKK participants was that
this was found to be offensive enough to Kalla for him to cancel the
proposed meeting. FKK members also expressed how the list of
violations indicated was eroding confidence in the Aceh peace
process and undermining the argument that GAM was committed to
transitioning to purely political processes and giving up
separatism.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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