chapter  6
17 Pages

Reconciliation and human rights in post-conflict Aceh

ByLEENA AVONIUS

Introduction The post-conflict situation in Aceh presents us with a valuable opportunity for examining processes of reconciliation in Indonesia. The Aceh case has at least two features that invite one to examine Acehnese experiences of reconciliation more closely for lessons learned that may benefit future efforts for reconciliation elsewhere in Indonesia. The conflict in Aceh, in the aftermath of which the processes of reconciliation are now taking place, has been one of the longest separatist conflicts in Indonesia’s history. It started in 1976 when the founder of the Free Aceh Movement, Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM), Hasan di Tiro, proclaimed Aceh’s independence. In its early years the conflict was mostly limited to the north-eastern parts of Aceh, but after 1999 it spread across the province. While the armed conflict mainly involved the Indonesian armed forces and the local guerrilla movement GAM, the majority of its victims were civilians. Reconciliation, then, has to take place within the complex network of relations between the central government, the national security forces, local militia groups that supported the central government, GAM combatants and their supporters, as well as the civilian population that tried – often unsuccessfully – to stay outside the conflict. As many reports on the Aceh conflict have shown, the majority of atrocities against the civilian population were committed by the Indonesian military, though GAM is also responsible for similar crimes (Amnesty International 1993, 2004; Human Rights Watch 2002, 2003, 2004; ICG 2001; Imparsial 2004; Kontras 2006; Rahmany 2004). Due to this, reconciliation in Aceh is essential for renegotiating civil-military relations in Indonesia.