Protests continue in Aceh

Issue 

In mid-April, Resistance activist SAM KING spoke in Indonesia to ALI MOLINA, an Acehnese student in the law faculty of Shatwa University and a member of Student Solidarity with the People, about the political situation in Aceh.

Question: Tell us about the military presence in Aceh.

The military are repressing people in Aceh: they kill, rape and rob us to intimidate us. You can see there are a lot of children without fathers; they are the product of rapes by military personnel.

In Aceh the military have used tactics developed in the provinces, including kidnapping, raping and torture, particularly under the cover of dark. These terror methods have been effective in the past. Now the people in Aceh have risen to resist them.

Question: In East Timor, civilian militias have been created by the military to terrorise the population. Are they doing this in Aceh?

The military have used the same methods in Aceh as in East Timor. They recruited many youth in Aceh to a militia called Pramuda Kamana Desa to stand in the front line against Aceh Merdeka (the Free Aceh movement). However, these young people have now resigned and the PKD is defunct.

Question: Can tell us about Aceh Merdeka?

During the first years of military repression in Aceh, the most prominent resistance organisation, Aceh Merdeka, was formed. Between 1989 and 1998 it used propaganda to publicise the Acehnese demands, but this did not work effectively because the regime did not care or pay attention. So they changed tactics and launched an armed struggle.

In the past there was no party in Indonesia that cared about the Aceh struggle. Now students in Aceh have many organisations that resist the regime, for example, Students in Solidarity with Democracy in Indonesia.

Question: What about the moderate parties? Are they active in Aceh?

Even now no moderate parties give attention to the struggle in Aceh, but the most committed political parties in Aceh are the United Development Party, Indonesian Democratic Party — Struggle and Amien Rais' National Mandate Party. The parties want to get as many votes as they can in Aceh, but they don't care about the suffering of the people.

Question: Does any political party have a position on independence for Aceh?

Only the People's Democratic Party has a position of supporting the struggle in Aceh. With the upcoming general election, parties like Partai Abul Yatama and Partai Ummat Islam have issued statements on the need of a referendum in Aceh. But this is not a national policy of the party, just a regional policy. They are using it as a way to get as many votes as they can in Aceh.

Question: Can you explain what your organisation does to raise awareness around the issue and get support?

Our organisation, Student Solidarity for the People, is still small. Our strategy is to look at how to manage people's anger effectively so that the people's resistance can swell and can become a strong power.

We organise the people in the villages, give them political education. We support a referendum as the most democratic way to demonstrate the desires of the people: for independence, autonomy or integration into Indonesia.

Question: How can the solidarity movement best support the movement in Aceh?

International solidarity can be a factor, by taking the struggle outside of Indonesia and placing pressure on the Indonesian regime to hold a referendum. Unfortunately, not many organisations give support or attention to Aceh. We ask for support for the student struggle and financial aid. To everyone who gives international solidarity to Aceh, we say thank you.