chapter  12
15 Pages

The reintegration of ex- combatants in post- war Aceh: remaining challenges to a gender- blind planning and implementation process

BySHADIA MARHABAN

The signing of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Indonesia (GoI) and the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Atjeh Merdeka, GAM) on 15 August 2005 ended three decades of armed conflict in Aceh. As reviewed in the preceding chapter, the international community focused its attention on the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of the former combatants under the supervision and oversight of the EU-led Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM). While the decommissioning process was successfully completed, the ongoing socio-facilitation process faces several challenges, including the institutional weakness of its implementing body, a narrow focus on financial compensation, the exclusion of the local population as beneficiaries and the failure to address the needs of Acehnese women in general and female ex-combatants in particular. The purpose of this chapter is to review these challenges and to highlight the ‘marginalisation of female combatants’ within the reintegration process, which is the politically correct term for what in reality is the oppression of women. The findings are drawn from my own knowledge and direct personal experiences as well as from those who I have been in contact with, first as a human rights activist and as part of the Acehnese independence struggle, and later as a member of the civil society leadership. When referencing other sources, I will attempt to identify them to the best of my ability, given that all my books, documents and all my worldly possessions were confiscated when my house in Jakarta was ransacked, forcing me to flee abroad as a refugee in 2003, allowing me to return only after the signing of the peace agreement.