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Indonesia after the tsunami

Help and repression in Aceh

The frightful military deployment of the United States in the Indian Ocean is not only aimed at assisting the tsunami victims but at reactivating the combats in Aceh by taking advantage of the confusion. The northern region of Sumatra, which is the most affected one by the earthquake and the seaquake, has been in an almost permanent state of insurrection for about 30 years. The Indonesian army, supported by two American air and sea combat groups, has officially announced its intention of eliminating the rebels before helping the population. The international press hasn’t said a word about it.

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The USAID and the American army organize the assistance in Aceh

The international assistance to the victims of the tsunami which devastated the Indian Ocean on Sunday, December 26, 2004, has brought about one of the bigger humanitarian military deployments of the History. But to believe it would only be humanitarian would be naïve.

Some American land forces were transferred to Thailand to occupy old bases which date from the Viet Nam war. In the short term, their brothels should be receiving American officers coming from Iraq.

The American naval forces are mainly assembled in Sumatra’s northern part, throughout the region of Aceh, the most affected by the tsunami. Two aircraft carriers and their combat units -the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS Bonhomme Richard [1]- have been stationed there. For the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz [2], former ambassador of the United States to Indonesia, the present situation represents a good opportunity to put an end to the rebellion of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and to give the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) the possibility of controlling it.

National press agency Antara points out that the combats were resumed on January 7, 2005. The spokesperson of the Armed Forces stated three separatists were killed and a weapons reserve (Kalashnikov Ak-47 and rifles) was found in Gantang. “GAM rebels have committed crimes and they have been cruel with the inhabitants of the province who have suffered the devastating consequences of the earthquake and the tsunami”, he said [3]

Tow days later, the Army accused the separatists of ambushing the assistance forces to steal the provisions and infiltrating into the refugee camps. “The Armed Forces are now in a defensive position. Due to the intensification of GAM’s activities, the special units which help in the evacuation of the victims must pursue and eliminate the rebels”, commented Colonel Basuki [4].

However, the major foreign media ignore the resumption of the combats even when they count on legions of special reporters in Banda Aceh’s beaches. It must be said that the emotions of the international public opinion mobilizing itself in a charitable gesture is positive though fragile; it wouldn’t accept the local realities, the rebellion of the Tamil Tigers against the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) of Myanmar’s dictatorship. And the advertising slots’ sales depend on the emotional quality of the infotainment.

“American military presence linked with the humanitarian assistance” and “areas affected by the Tsunami” (source: pacom.mil).

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The civil humanitarian organizations have been taken away from the risky zones except certain associations such as Non Violence International which is a branch of the Albert Einstein Institution (also a related to NED/CIA) [5].

The Aceh region lives from the memories of its great past when it used to be an independent sultanate in the XVII century although it still suffers the Dutch colonization and the Japanese invasion. This region was arbitrarily added to Indonesia by the end of WWII.

In 1896, Hassan di Tiro, a businessman who came from a noble family, founded GAM. It was a nationalist party whose members had a Muslim culture. It was in favor of the social justice and it had an exiled government in Sweden. During this time, other separatist movements were created in the Indonesian Empire, the Moluccas and East Timor. From 1989 to 1998, President Suharto identified Aceh as a “combat zone” and launched a terrible repression (operation “Red Net” with several thousands of dead).

When Suharto fell after his resignation due to the revelations of the enormous misappropriation of funds he had at the expense of humanitarian organizations, one of his successors, President Wahid, began negotiations and signed a truce in Geneva in May 2000. A status of autonomy was adopted and the local government got 70% of the incomes coming from the hydrocarbons of the region.

But the rebels, who helped East Timor achieve its independence, wanted more. Exxon-Mobil, in charge of exploitations, was forced to withdraw itself because of the rebels’ destabilizing actions [6]. The accession of George Bush to the White House and of Megawati Sokarnoputri to the presidency of Indonesia allowed the company to recover the control of its concession and the revenge of the military. However, 25 000 soldiers and 20 000 policemen couldn’t stop the rebellion in Aceh.

The international community, outraged at the violence of the clashes and the atrocities committed by all parts, managed to impose a ceasefire on December 9, 2002 and deployed 15 teams of observers to verify its implementation. But soon, some high-ranking officers who had the political power in their hands in a permanent war scenario decided to secretly support the rebellion to maintain the situation.

GAM, always led by its founder, Hassan di Tiro, would now have some 3 000 men ready to fight 45 000 members of the Indonesian army and police. Its annual budget would be about 500 000 dollars, coming from the revolutionary tax imposed on the companies of the region and the traffic of marihuana. During the 80s, the rebel chiefs took a guerrilla formation course in Libya where sometimes they had Palestine instructors. Today, GAM has relations with the Pattani insurgents in Thailand, Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO). The spread-by-the-Indonesian-media accusations of having relations with “Islamic radical groups” have no solid base.

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American and Indonesian soldiers in Aceh during the present operations

By taking into account the current difficulties regarding movement in the region, we can’t assess the magnitude of the combats or their consequences for the victims-of-the-earthquake-and-the-tsunami populations, but for Paul Wolfowitz, the whole thing is about ending his Asian work, and for the troops of the new president, General Bambang Yudhoyono, its is about putting an end to a thirty-years conflict.

A thousand people suspected of being members of GAM should be arrested and preventively taken to a camp built last year for this purpose in the island of Pulau Nasi, five miles away from the coasts of Banda Aceh, a Guantánamo-like destination but in an Indonesian version.

[1] The gathering of such remarkable combat groups is unusual. 12 groups like these are necessary to control all Oceans. Considering the maintenance problems and the rotation of the personal, the United States can’t use this amount of groups at the same time.

[2] «Paul Wolfowitz, l’âme du Pentagone», by Paul Labarique, Voltaire, October 4, 2004.

[3] “Three GAM Rebels Killed in Fresh Clash with Government Soldiers”, Antara, January 7, 2005.

[4] “GAM Rebels Infiltrate into Refugee Camps in Aceh”, Antara, January 9, 2005.

[5] See: «L’Albert Einstein Institution: la non-violence version CIA», by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire, January 4, 2004.

[6] Ver «Exxon-Mobil, fournisseur officiel de l’Empire», by Arthur Lepic, Voltaire, August 26, 2004.

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