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Jakarta Post

When Aceh’s flag creates fear

  • Nani Afrida

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 3 2013   /  11:07 am

As a local journalist who covered the Aceh conflict during the 2000s, I and many colleagues had the opportunity to interview Free Aceh Movement (GAM) fighters.

After the interviews, we often exchanged souvenirs. We would give the GAM fighters T-shirts, key holders or caps, while they handed us GAM-symbolized pins or GAM flags in return. The GAM flag is red with a white crescent and star in the middle, flanked by black and white bars, while GAM’s symbol features a lion and a buraq (a mythical horse with wings and a human face).

For the Acehnese, keeping GAM’s flags or other regalia placed them in danger. We had to hide it carefully, otherwise the Indonesian security forces would accuse us of being close to GAM and perhaps arrest us.

I remember once when my mother accidentally found a GAM flag among the books on my shelves. She looked more afraid than angry. “Nev...