Heal and help Atjeh combatant frustration
Posted February 16, 2010on:
It’s been three years since the peace agreement signed between the Indonesian government and the Atjeh Freedom Movement (GAM) in Helsinki, Finlandia. The result is quite significant, though still left few questions for some people.
It was when I visited Lhok Seumawe, North Atjeh which known rich with natural gas and geographically lucky since they didn’t have to worry about being hit by tsunami in 2004.
Was it safer? I was encouraged to say yes. Yet at the same time I’d want to say the opposite. The word safe would mean nothing if at every crossroad you would encounter with two or three fully armed guards. I wouldn’t call that safe.
Wearing uniform with steel helmet, bullet proof vest and Pindad’s arms, the soldiers who accompanied us seemed prepare to face every possibility, including if there were an ambush on our group, the Exxon Mobil Oil Indonesia (EMOI) and few reporters heading to Langkahan area.
Our only view along the journey were soldiers, few residence, fields and deserted countryside, crude palm trees and hills, no more green trees left with dust up in the air covering the sunlight.
“This was GAM’s territory. Most of them were trained in Libya. One of their leaders was Ahmad Kandang. Soldiers who were sent here would end up crying if they didn’t have enough courage,” said one of my friends who have stayed for quite some time in Lhok Seumawe.
We were lucky, no armed incident occurred along the journey and our group would arrive safely at elementary school camp in Langkahan.
The new building resulted from the donation of ExxonMobil because the old one was damage by the flood of Krung Ni River. According to the villagers, ever since the Langkahan dam was built, flood always come every year.
“Every flood season, the river could reach ten meters high and only dry in the next two months,” said Aliman. Aliman was one of the villagers who felt excited about the new school.
He was very happy to meet the boss of Atjeh-based EMOI, Barton P Cahir that day. He worked very hard in planting seed and sows the hill around the school which cost around 2 billion rupiah for 400 students.
His children – Marhalim, Marlina and Mulyadi – studied in that school. But, Siti Sumanti’s husband looked very nervous as I asked him about securities in the area. Suddenly he became pale and his voice turned low.
September 2008, seven people were kidnapped, blackmailed and robbed. Among them was Andrian Morrer, a World Bank staff on a survey with his driver, Hendri Saputra, in Punteuet, Sawang, in North Atjeh.
“We still couldn’t tell if it was done by the ex GAM or not. If they were, then they were ex combatant. Yes, this was the real condition after the peace agreement,” said Salma YS from the Atjeh Youth Association (Ikapeda).
The Helsinki peace accord was just like a two side coin. On one side, the peace created long term frustration for the combatants who suddenly lost their role after the agreement. They used to be proud holding an AK-47 then suddenly they had to replace it with a hoe.
It was similar to the situation when Vice President Muhammad Hatta passed General Urip Sumohardjo’s idea to perform the reorganization and rasionalization (Re-Ra) policy on soldiers post Renville agreement which led to the Madiun Affair tragedy at September 1948.
“They were used to war. Suddenly they had to stop becoming soldiers. Then frustration aroused. The government often ignored this kind of situation,” said the woman who graduated from Technical High School (STM) Cot Gapu majoring in electricity.
Ikapeda was founded on April 6, 2006, after the MoU between RI-GAM officially made. The organization helps the youth around 15-35 years old to overcome their war trauma in North Atjeh.
They were given training in farming, making craft, fishing, and other skills which would be useful for them in the future. According to Salma, their biggest problem was although the foreign associates trusted their activities, the national banking not giving anything to appreciate the activities.
According to the woman who was chosen as the Indonesian coast woman, the government should be the one giving help in funding since it was urgently needed. It was just hopes; Ikapeda kept on doing what they felt as their responsibilities. On organization funding, Salma used the rotating fund system created by economy Nobel winner Muhammad Yunus.
The goal was to create Atjeh independent women and to inspire their husband to do their responsibility, to provide food on the table with their own hand. Since the real freedom is not depending on others.
Was Published in Bahasa Indonesia in late 2008, Bisnis Indonesia daily.