chapter  13
Two sides of the same coin? Separatism and democratization in post-Suharto Indonesia
Pages 20

The aim of this book, as stated in the first chapter, is to give an overview of ‘the difficult, multilayered and often contradictory results of the democratization process’. Within this context this chapter will discuss the impacts of the democratization process on regions of separatist conflict in Indonesia. Separatist conflict, as well as inter-communal conflict, has been haunting the country for decades. In particular, the provinces of Aceh and Papua have been prone to armed violence for more than 30 years. Despite the fall of the authoritarian Suharto-regime, the weakening of the central government and its security apparatus, decentralization processes and the draft of Special Autonomy laws for Aceh and Papua, little progress was seen between 1998 and 2005 to finally solve the aforementioned conflicts. Only the devastating effects of the Boxing Day tsunami at the end of 2004 led to the beginning of a peace process in Aceh, which for the time being cannot be described as fully consolidated, whilst the conflict in Papua is yet to be resolved through political means. Looking at the courses of these two conflicts, the fall of Suharto and Indonesia’s transition could be interpreted as the causes of the new escalation of violence in Aceh and Papua from 1999 onwards. The fall of Suharto was followed not only by significant democratic reforms as well as a large-scale decentralization process of the country, but also by the secession of East Timor, the aforementioned outbreak of inter-communal conflicts and the escalation of the separatist conflicts in Papua and especially in Aceh.