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Acheh-Sumatra National Liberation Front



The announcement by Indonesia's Chief Security Minister Widodo A.S. that Jakarta will not allow Acheh to have it own local political parties and hold new local elections confirms an old saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That painful wisdom continues to fit a half-century of Jakarta's deceitful mistreatment of Acheh.

Indonesian president General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced to the world some months ago that Acheh could have anything short of independence. It is becoming clear, however, that what he really means is that Acheh can have nothing more than the status quo.

Our government-in-exile has offered enormous compromises in order to find a way forward to end this long conflict. We brought neither independence nor a referendum on independence to the negotiating table – the two demands that Achehnese have long made to solve 132 years of brutal Dutch and Indonesian rule.

Achehnese, foreign governments and good citizens throughout the world hoped that Jakarta would make parallel compromises. One hundred and thirty thousand tsunami deaths and one hundred and twenty thousand still missing might finally alter Jakarta' longstanding colonial attitude toward Acheh and the Achehnese. Most Indonesians - including peace-seeking Indonesian leaders like Jusuf Kalla - have demanded the Acheh conflict be solved peacefully with regard to political rights of the Achehnese

But with Widodo's announcement on Wednesday, it becomes terribly clear that Jakarta has no intention of taking the slightest step forward. By rejecting reasonable political measures to help solve the conflict, the Indonesian government has shown - despite the tsunami and General Yudhoyono's political posturing- that it has changed not one bit.

But why should the Indonesian military and its bitter hard-line allies in Parliament decide the fate of Indonesia and the Achehnese?

Among Achehnese, it is a well-known rule that whatever Jakarta offers us with one hand – provincial status, autonomy, apologies, human rights trials, a referendum, special autonomy, cease-fires, self-government and a just peace – it will surely take away, undermine, or make meaningless with the other.

Yudhoyono is not the first Indonesian president in recent times to forget or take back a promise to us. Any Achehnese boy or girl over the age of ten can recall that BJ. Habibie pledged to remove the Indonesian army of occupation, Abdurrahman Wahid offered us a referendum on independence and Megawati Sukarnopoutri swore no more Achehnese blood would be spilt. But some senior Indonesian politicians can't seem to remember what government negotiators vowed just last week.

On banners, in news programs and television advertisements after the tsunami, Indonesians announced to the world, "We cry for Acheh." Yet, in a few short months, those tears have proven to be not an impetus toward a just settlement, but a momentary distraction while the familiar tidal wave of Indonesian military terror continues.

As ever, Jakarta intends to conquer Acheh, not seek compromise with it.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Central Military Command
Muzakkir Manaf

© Scoop Media

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