Free Aceh Movement

Free Aceh Movement

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Free Aceh Movement

caption=The Flag of the Free Aceh Movement
dates= January 4, 1976 - death date and age|2005|12|27|1976|12|04
country= Indonesia
allegiance= Nationalism, Separatist
role= Guerrilla warfare
garrison=Mountains and jungles of Aceh
equipment=Small arms and dynamite
current_commander=Hasan di Tiro
identification_symbol= Crescent moon and star
identification_symbol_2= Initials "GAM"
battles= Insurgency in Aceh
The Free Aceh Movement (Indonesian: Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or simply GAM), also known as the Aceh Sumatra National Liberation Front (ASNLF), was a separatist group seeking independence for the Aceh region of Sumatra from Indonesia. GAM fought against Indonesia government forces in the Insurgency of Aceh from between 1976 to 2005 and costing over 15,000 lives.cite web |date=Sunday, 17 July 2005, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK|url =|title = Indonesia agrees Aceh peace deal|format = HTML |publisher = BBC News| accessdate = 2008-10-11 | last= |quote=] The organisation surrendered its separatist intentions and dissolved its armed wing following 2005 peace agreement with the Indonesian Government. The Indonesian government called the group the Aceh Security Disturbance Movement.


The conflict in Aceh stems from several major areas, historical mistreatment, control over Islamic law, the fair distribution of Aceh's natural resource wealth and the increase of the Javanese population within Aceh.cite web |date=Monday, 24 January, 2005, 14:46 GMT|url =|title = Aceh's Gam separatists|format = HTML |publisher = BBC News| accessdate = 2008-10-11 | last= |quote=]

During the era of Dutch colonisation in the 1800’s, Aceh was the centre of resistance against Dutch colonial rule. The Acehnese resisted Dutch forces and they were one of the last Indonesian people to succumb to colonial rule.cite web |date=2007 |url =|title = Resources and Rebellion in Aceh , Indonesia|format = PDF|publisher = The World Bank| accessdate = 2008-10-11 | last=Michael L.Ross |quote=] When the Netherlands transferred sovereignty of their colonial territory, administration of Aceh was handed over to Indonesia and GAM claims that the this was done without consultation with Acehnese authorities. Aceh used their strong nationalistic ideals under the leadership of Daud Beurueh to mount an armed rebellion that ended with Aceh being granted special status by President Sukarno. This special status gave Aceh control on religion, custom law and education. When President Suharto came to power he renounced Aceh’s special status.fact As a result of the loss of Aceh's special status GAM was created under the leadership of Hasan di Toro. On the 4th of December Hasan claimed Aceh independence. GAM's devout Muslim ideas aggravated military leaders who had considerable distrust for political Islamists.cite book | last = Angel Rabasa (Author), John B. Haseman (Author)| authorlink = | title = The Military and Democracy in Indonesia: Challenges, Politics, and Power, Rand Corporation United States.|edition= September 2002|pages= 157| publisher = RAND Corporation| isbn= 0833032194]

Guerrilla war

At first the guerilla war of GAM was highly unsuccessful, and the government appeared to have entirely neutralized the group by 1977.cite book | last = Kirsten E. Schulze| authorlink = | title = The Free Aceh Movement (GAM): Anatomy of a Separatist Organization|edition= September 2004|pages= 76 | publisher = East-West Center Washington| isbn= 1932728023] The reason for this failure was a lack of popular support from both within Aceh and from international sources. President Suharto was favored by countries such as America due to his anti communist policies during the Cold War period.

The group renewed its activities in the 1980s, apparently with financial support from Libya and Iran, fielding around 3,500 soldiers. This training from overseas meant that GAM soldiers were much more organised and better trained that the previous insurgency. To counter this new threat Aceh was declared an "area of special military operations" (Daerah Operasi Militer) or DOM in 1989.fact Special counter insurgency troops were sent in and Aceh was locked down. Villages that were suspected of harboring GAM operatives were burnt down and family members of suspected militants were kidnapped and tortured.fact Amnesty International called the military response "shock therapy"cite web |date=AUGUST 25, 1998|url =|title = Indonesia: Human rights atrocities in Aceh|format = HTML |publisher = Amnesty International| accessdate = 2008-10-11 | last= |quote=] and it is believed 7000 human rights abuses took place during DOM.fact GAM forces have also been suspected of Human Rights abuses. Extra judicial executions of suspected military informants and targeting of civilian infrastructure such as schools have both been attributed to GAM operations.fact

In 1996 the Indonesian government announced the end of GAM.cite web |date=2008 |url =|title = Free Aceh Movement [Gerakin Aceh Merdeka (GAM)] |format = HTML |publisher =| accessdate = 2008-10-11 | last= |quote=] The TNI ("Tentara Nasional Indonesia") presence in the region was not greatly reduced and reports of arrests, torture, and extra-judicial killings continued. In 1999 a troop withdrawal was announced, but the military presence remained high and troop numbers are believed to have risen during the rule of Megawati Sukarnoputri to around 35,000 by mid-2002.fact Security crackdowns in 2001 and 2002 resulted in several thousand civilian deathsBarakat, S Connolly,D & Large,J Winning and Losing in Aceh: Five Key Dilemmas in Third-Party Intervention Frank Crass London] . The government launched a large 2003-2004 Indonesian offensive in Aceh against the GAM in 2003 with some success.

Peace negotiations

The leaders of GAM, Hasan di Tiro, and his chief deputy, Zaini Abdullah, and Malik Mahmud have lived in exile in Stockholm, Sweden. The group's main Indonesian spokesman is Abdullah Syafei'i Dimatang. In the late 1990s GAM began peace talks with Jakarta, brokered by the Swedish government.

In 1999 it was reported that the group had split into two factions, ASNLF (representing the original group) and the Free Aceh Movement Government Council (MP-GAM).fact This has been denied by GAM spokespersons but widely reported by the Indonesian media.

In 2002-2004, the GAM was severely hit by a series of government offensives, in which the organisation lost approximately 50% of its members, including its commander Abdullah Syafei'i Dimatang who was killed in a military ambush on January 2002.

On Tuesday, 28 December 2004, in the aftermath of the devastation caused by a massive tsunami, GAM declared a ceasefire of hostilities to allow for aid to reach within the disputed area. In turn, the Indonesian government temporarily removed restrictions of northern Sumatra to allow for rescue efforts in that area.

Other Aceh separatist groups exist, and there was some tension between them and GAM over tactics and GAM's monopoly of negotiations with the government.

On 27 February 2005, the Free Aceh Movement and the delegation of the Indonesian government started another round of peace talks in Vantaa, Finland, moderated by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari. On 16 July 2005, the Indonesian Minister of Communication and GAM announced a peace deal to end the thirty-year insurgency. The peace agreement was officially signed on 15 August by chief Indonesian negotiator Hamid Awaluddin and GAM leader Malik Mahmud.cite web |date=Sunday, 17 July 2005, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK|url =|title = Indonesia agrees Aceh peace deal|format = HTML |publisher = BBC News| accessdate = 2008-10-11 | last= |quote=]

Under the terms of the agreement, both sides agreed to cease all hostilities immediately. GAM also agreed to disarm, while the Government pledged to withdraw all non-local military and police by the end of 2005. An Aceh Monitoring Mission was set up by the EU and ASEAN to oversee the process of disarmament and the reintegration into society of GAM members. pp. 411-427 - cite web |date=Volume 32, Number 3, July 2007|url =|title = Peace in the wake of disaster? Secessionist conflicts and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami|format = HTML |publisher = Blackwell Publishing| accessdate = 2008-10-11 | last=Billon, P, Waizenegger |quote=] A presidential decree granted amnesty to about five hundred former GAM members who were in exile in other countries, and unconditionally released about 1,400 members who had been jailed by the Government.fact

The Government agreed to facilitate the establishment of Aceh-based political parties; this had been one of the most contentious issues in previous negotiations. A "truth and reconciliation commission" will be organized. On the question of the uneven distribution of income, it was settled that seventy percent of the income from local natural resources will stay within Aceh.

On 27 December 2005, the leaders of the Free Aceh Movement announced that they had disbanded their military wing.cite web |date=Tuesday, 27 December 2005, 11:10 GMT|url =|title = Aceh rebels disband armed units|format = HTML |publisher = BBC News| accessdate = 2008-10-11 | last= |quote=] The action, which took effect immediately, follows from earlier peace talks and the destruction of 840 weapons by international observers, Free Aceh movement commander Sofyan Daud told reporters, "The Aceh national army is now part of civil society, and will work to make the peace deal a success." As a sign of how the peace process was progressing the founder of Aceh's separatist rebel movement, Hassan di Tiro, returned to Indonesia on October 11, 2008 after nearly 30 years in exile. cite web |date=Saturday, October 11, 2008|url =|title = title|format = HTML |publisher = aljazeera| accessdate = 2008-10-11 | last= |quote=]

2006 elections

During the election of December 11, 2006, Free Aceh Movement temporarily split into two factions, each supporting its own candidate for governorship. One side, supported Zaini Abdullah's brother, and the other supported Irwandi Yusuf, former GAM negotiator. Irwandi Yusuf got more support from grass root level however, and won the election.

ee also

*Free Papua Movement
*Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor


External links

* [ Free Aceh (ASNLF)]
* [ Full text of 2005 peace agreement] , BBC, 15 August 2005

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