Acehnese leader calls for solidarity



SYDNEY — Husaini Hasan, chairperson of the Government Council of the Free Acheh Movement (MPGAM), told a meeting on July 11 that his people's struggle for a referendum would not be realised without international solidarity. The meeting was organised by Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP). Hasan has lived in exile in Sweden for many years.

Hasan recounted Aceh's long struggle for independence, first against the Dutch from 1873 until the island was overrun by the Japanese in 1942. “Aceh was included in the Federal Republic of Indonesia in 1949, despite never having been a formal Dutch possession”, he explained. The Acehnese people consider Indonesian rule as foreign occupation, Hasan declared.

Since the 1950s, “the Indonesian military has shown its determination to keep Aceh part of Indonesia”, noted Hasan.

Hasan said that GAM is determined to continue with talks with the Indonesian government, despite the build-up of Indonesian troops (TNI) in Aceh. About 10 Acehnese are killed by the TNI every day.

However, Hasan added that the talks, which have continued for five years, are dominated by Indonesia. “They make the agenda, while we are weak and our people are being massacred”, he said.

From Green Left Weekly, July 17, 2002.
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