National

Hasan Tiro visits Aceh's
hero graves

Aceh's former resistance leader, Hassan Di Tiro, prayed briefly by the grave of Aceh hero Sultan Iskandar Muda on Sunday morning and is scheduled to visit the grave of another hero, respected ulema Syech Abdul Rauf, at Syiah Kuala cemetery.

Organizers say, after paying his respects, Tiro will visit Ule Lhee, the coastal area of Banda Aceh that was devastated in the 2004 tsunami.

"It's the tsunami which preceded the Helsinki memorandum of understanding (MoU)," said Muzakir A Hamid, an assistant of Tiro, referring to a peace agreement between the Free Aceh Movement (which Tiro had chaired) and the Indonesian government.

Later, in the tentative Sunday schedule was a visit to the grave of Tiro's ancestor Tengku Cik Di Tiro, a national hero in Indrapuri district, some 25 kilometers east of Banda Aceh.

Tiro arrived in his homeland Aceh on Saturday, after 29 years of living in exile, mainly in Sweden. Now, he is a Swedish citizen.

"The freedom and peace across Aceh today is a precious gift from Allah. Never before in Aceh's history of colonialism and occupation by foreign nations, have the people gained freedom and peace in general, as they have today," Tiro said in a statement read by his assistant, Malik Mahmud, in front of thousands of people at Baiturrahman Mosque in Banda Aceh on Saturday.

A former female combatant, Fatimah, was among the speakers who addressed the crowd on Saturday.

Fatimah said she and her group of female combatants (inong bale) were still trying to meet Tiro, who is considered by many Acehnese as wali nangroe (inheritor of Aceh).

"I am satisfied. I saw him up-close yesterday, but my friends said maybe our eyes were not yet blessed."

Fatimah conveyed her gratitude to Tiro who had "opened the eyes of the Acehenese," enabling them to understand "our history".

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