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Jakarta Post

Ex-GAM official demands improvement in Aceh 15 years after Helsinki MoU

  • Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, February 13, 2020   /   03:09 pm
Ex-GAM official demands improvement in Aceh 15 years after Helsinki MoU Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko (second left) walks with former leaders of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) Malik Mahmud Al Haythar (second right) after meeting President Joko Widodo at the Presidential Palace Complex, Jakarta, Thursday (02/13/2020). The meeting discussed the Helsinki agreement which was a peace agreement between RI and GAM which was signed in Finland on August 15, 2005 to resolve the conflict in Aceh. (Antara/Sigid Kurniawan)

Former self-styled prime minister of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), Malik Mahmud al-Haytar, demanded that the government follow up on various points of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that ended three decades of armed conflict in Aceh.

Malik, who now serves as wali nanggroe (traditional leader), talked about the demand with President Joko “Jokowi” during a meeting on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Malik said some points in the MoU had yet to be fully implemented. He hoped the government would realize them soon.

“For example, the issue of land that was promised to be given to [former] combatants. There are also problems with regional administrations and economic problems that have yet to be solved,” Malik said.

A point in the 2005 MoU stipulates that the government will provide farmland and adequate funds to the Aceh administration as part of reintegration efforts for former GAM combatants. Such efforts were carried out to make sure former combatants integrated back into society and were treated as regular citizens after the conflict.

Malik also demanded that Jokowi’s administration sort out regulatory inconsistencies between the central and regional governments.

Read also: Aceh peace process: Revisiting 'white Helsinki'

Signed in the Finnish capital in August 2005, the MoU ended the bloody 30-year conflict in Aceh between the Indonesian government and GAM. The conflict was thought to have resulted in the death of between 20,000 and 30,000 Acehnese civilians, thousands of combatants on both sides and caused an unquantifiable amount of damage to public infrastructure and private property.

Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said the government had accepted the insight from Malik and would work to solve the issues.

“They feel that there hasn’t been significant change in terms of development [in Aceh] over the past 15 years. This is related to the established perception that the situation in Aceh [is not favorable] but in fact it is safe,” Moeldoko said.

He added that the President had appointed his office to handle the issue. “We’re hoping that in the next three months, there will be solutions regarding this. We will work intensively with teams from Aceh.”