Indonesia (Aceh)


Conflict Summary

The war between Acehnese separatists and the government was brought to an abrupt end in the immediate aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December 2004. Combatants agreed to a ceasefire in return for political representation, as negotiated in the 15 August Helsinki memorandum of understanding. A European Union monitoring mission has presided over the peace since then, while the UN coordinated humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. Partai Aceh, the party of former GAM rebels, won the regional legislature elections in April, prompting fears of fresh calls for independence, despite the granting of greater autonomy from Jakarta. It is feared that poverty and a lack of basic services in the devastated province could revive the conflict that flared up periodically since Indonesia gained independence in 1949 – beginning with Islamic rebellions against central government in the 1950s and 60s; resurfacing in the 1970s after the Acehnese claimed profits from oil and gas resources were not being shared equally; and stirring once again after Asia’s economic crash in the 1990s. The government’s responses further enflamed the situation, with many alleging human rights abuses by Indonesia’s security forces.