Re. Statement by General Endriartono Sutarto
ACHEH-SUMATRA NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT
MILITARY CENTRAL COMMAND
The recent statement in Singapore by the TNI chief General Endriartono Sutarto does a grave and dangerous disservice to Achehnese and Indonesians alike.
General Endriartono falsely asserts that parts of GAM's military force are against the current peace talks and that, in any case, GAM doesn't represent the overwhelming majority of the Achehnese people. What he is really saying is the following: 'If GAM can't make the agreement work among its own forces and among Achehnese, why are we bothering with these stupid talks. Let's keep fighting.'
The irony of Endriartono's remarks and the danger they represent is profound. Endriartono is in fact holding a mirror up to his side of the equation. His accusation applies not to GAM but to his colleagues in the Indonesian military. His military's creation of armed militia and the massacre of thousands in East Timor in 1999 should warn us all of what could happen.
If any armed group is going to stop the agreement from working in the field or at the table, it will be the Indonesian military.
As negotiators in Helsinki draw closer to a just settlement between Achehnese and Indonesian sides of this long conflict, powerful elements of the Indonesian military grow increasingly desperate. These men become a danger to the cause of a just peace in Acheh. They become threat to the extraordinary work of the Finnish mediators and to the recent involvement of the European Union.
Let's be clear: The general's comments are simply a new sly tactic to undermine the enormous progress made in finding a new and sustainable accommodation between Indonesia and Acheh after his attempts to factionalize GAM's armed forces (TNA) in Acheh by bribing has failed. TNA is a united armed forces and stand firmly behind its civil government in exile. Thus far the Indonesian military has been unable to derail our unity and to stem the tide of peace.
Endriartono's remarks raise the fundamental difference between Indonesia's army of occupation and Acheh's army of national liberation, the armed forces of GAM (TNA).
When Indonesian soldiers come to a village, fear fills the eyes of an Achehnese family. The Indonesians soldiers come to kill, torture and rape, as they did in East Timor and still do in West Papua and other provinces. Balinese, Bugis, Javanese or any of the other peoples of the archipelago – share this fear of Indonesia's 'defense forces.' Ordinary Indonesians are potential allies of the Achehnese struggle for justice and freedom.
GAM comes from the Achehnese people and fights for the Achehnese people. Anyone who has seen the faces of an Achehnese family as a company of GAM fighters arrives knows the difference. For the Achehnese liberation army, there are real smiles, not pretend ones. Whether figuratively or literally, they are greeting sons, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunties; it is a reunion, a time to celebrate survival against the odds.
And so are the thousands of emergency workers who have now been to Acheh. That is of course the answer to the question: Why does the Indonesian military fear the presence of foreign NGOs? Why do they want the aid but not the actual presence of thinking human beings? Answer: Because they know these well-intentioned people will leave Acheh with an understanding of how the Achehnese feel about the Indonesian military.
It's become a truism: the Indonesian military has its own economic, political, military and psychological interests in mind - and not those of the Achehnese or even their fellow Indonesians. From the natural gas tanks to skinny chickens running around a poor farmer's shack, Acheh is a source of income, a place to loot. The tsunami, the military hopes, is a godsend for them. The foreign aid, a new source of loot. A peace agreement might deny them that loot, leaving it to those Achehnese who have lost so much.
Politically, a just settlement in Acheh would challenge the military's claim to be the glue that holds Indonesia together. A just settlement would mean reform in Indonesia has made headway. Militarily, such a settlement shows the failure of the military's monthly claim: "Oh, just wait and see, in six months, we'll have fixed those GAM bandits once and for all.' How dumb and forgetful do they think the world is!
A just settlement will bring a fair and objective accounting of what the military has done to our people. A just settlement will let the tortured and tattered and even the dead speak the truth for the world to know!
Give us justice and give us peace!
Military Central Command