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The crackdown on Aceh « Previous | |Next »
May 21, 2003

There is an article by Andrew Burrell in the Australian Financial Review on the Indonesian military(TNI), Megawati and Aceh (no link.) Burrell says that the military offensive in Aceh breaks a promise made by President Megawati to prevent bloodshed in Aceh has been ditched. He adds that the internal reforms of the Indonesian military (TNI) are dead in the water and there is also a question mark over Indonesia's transition from autocracy to democracy.

The article quotes Army Chief, Ryamizard Ryacudu, as saying that the army has a right to uphold Indonesia's territorial and national integrity rather than religion, human rights or democracy.

This implies national unity for the Republic of Indonesia is paramount. Democracy should be sacrificed to ensure unity and federalism, which offers, some form of autonomy for the different regions, is not on the agenda. What has gone is the attempts under the previous President Abdurrahman Wahid to deal with separatist concerns by offering offering the provinces greater local autonomy, and more control over tax revenues from natural resources. This gives the background on the agreement to cess hostilities and bring peace to the troubled Indonesian province. It would seem that the Indonesians broke the agreement

The Jakarta Post makes it clear that the imperative of national unity actually means that is the unity of the centralized state that is being defended. It says that:

"Indonesia's founding fathers thus envisioned the importance of nation building at a very early stage. They saw the need for consciously developing a common attitude, a common will, viewpoint, value orientation, character and behavior that would contribute to the goal of living together as one nation, of being, in fact, Indonesia. For the nascent Indonesia, that goal was formulated in the will to promote and realize the ideal of Indonesian unity...

...Unfortunately, after national independence was achieved in 1945, the interpretation of that lofty concept and the execution of strategies towards the attainment of that goal has differed from one president to the next. And none has so far brought Indonesia any closer to the ideal

Each time the efforts have failed because every successive government has emphasized the superiority of the state above the sovereignty of the people. Each time the government has fumbled because it is disregarding the importance of culture as a means of coordinating, regulating, and directing human endeavor towards achieving the common goal that the Indonesian nation, and indeed mankind, has set itself to achieve -- which is to secure a better existence....

It is indeed ironic that while the nation today celebrates its National Awakening Day, war is returning to Aceh, the people of Papua province are being torn apart, and the nation is being pushed towards disintegration by a legislative body that is supposed to represent the people in promoting and realizing the ideal of Indonesian unity. The education bill is one good example, but there are many more.

As the nation commemorates this auspicious day, it is indeed sad to have to note that many of our leaders have, and still are, betraying that vision of a nation as envisioned by our founding fathers. It could be that this nation needs a second awakening."

Scott over at the Eye of the Beholder reads the crackdown on the Aceh rebels differently. He sees it as part of the big war on terror. Scott seems to be alone in this. Not even The Australian goes that far. I do not see much of sign of terrorism in this account. What we have is resentment about the Indonesian government's profiting from Aceh's rich resources of gas and the 10 years of the Suharto-era of military rule aimed at quelling the insurgency. And it would seem that, as usual, the ordinary people of Aceh will suffer.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:02 PM | | Comments (0)