Parliament calls on government to end negotiations with GAM

Media Indonesia – May 24, 2005
Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Widodo AS (Jitu News)
Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Widodo AS (Jitu News)

Astrini D Anindita, Jakarta – The People’s Representative Assembly (DPR) is calling on the government to end negotiations with Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leaders in Helsinki because they believe that it does not benefit the Indonesian government.

This was revealed by members of the DPR’s Commission I in a meeting to hear the views of government officials from the political, legal and security ministries at the DPR’s Nusantara I Building in Jakarta on the night of Monday May 24.

The meeting was attended by the Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Widodo AS, the Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono, the Minister for Legal and Human Rights Affairs Hamid Awaluddin, the Minister for Communication and Information Sofyan Djalil, the Minister for Home Affairs M Maruf, the Minister for Social Affairs Bachtiar Chamsyah, the Chief of the Armed Forces Endriartono Sutarto and the Chief of Police Da’i Bachtiar.

The meeting whose agenda is a discussion on the evaluation of the civil emergency in Aceh and the Helsinki negotiations took take place between 7.15pm and 12.20am.

In his report, Widodo stated that the evaluation of the civil emergency in Aceh concluded that it had gone well. He also said that the Helsinki negotiations are being conducted in the framework of five points, that is that the Aceh question is a domestic issue, there will be no internationalisation of the issue, the substance of the negotiations are of an exploratory nature, the results of the discussions will be the subject of a report and that the discussions are restricted to the negotiators only.

Responding to this a Commission I member from the Democratic Party fraction, Boy Saul, asked the government to immediately end the negotiations with GAM in Helsinki because it will never be of any benefit to the government. “I ask the heads of this meeting and the government not to continue the negotiations because there are no benefits, the [negotiating] team doesn’t have the capacity to resolve the problem, just end them”, he said.

Arief Mudatsir Mandan from the United Development Party fraction and Permadi from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle asked that the government set a deadline on the negotiations. “If by the fourth round no agreement is reached it would be better just stop them”, said Permadi.

A member of the National Awakening Party fraction, Effendi Choirie, said he regretted that the government had sent ministers to negotiate with ordinary people overseas. “Is it then that the ministers have put themselves on par with members of a separatist [group] who are citizens of other countries, as if they are being placed in a higher position”, he complained. He also believes that providing special autonomy to Aceh already exceeds normal limits because it brings Islamic law into force in a state based on the ideology of Pancasila.

His college, AS Hikam, said that the assumptions used by the government in the Helsinki negotiations are unfounded and even conflict with reality. “Firstly, there is no link between GAM’s leaders [in exile] and the people of Aceh because they are foreign citizens who have never returned home and do not therefore represent [the Acehnese people’s wishes]. Secondly, it is leading towards the issue being internationalised because of interference by foreign mediators and negotiators”, he said.

Slamet Effendy Yusuf from the Golkar Party fraction questioned whether the government sees any clear sign that the negotiations will reach and agreement. Another Golkar Party fraction member said he was concerned that if self-government is given to Aceh it will turn into self-determination that further negates the authority of the Indonesian government.

Responding to these questions, Widodo assured them that the negotiations are being conducted in the framework of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) and Pancasila. He also said that during the negotiations GAM had never spoken about the possibility of independence. “The talks are therefore being conducted in an informal manner so they are neither binding or at the same level as [negotiations] between states. Aside from this, the self-government which we are offering also doesn’t deviate from the framework of special autonomy”, he said. He also said that the Helsinki negotiations are not the only thing being worked on, but are more a reflection of a real concern to carry out a diplomatic endeavour in the framework of NKRI.

The meeting came to the conclusion the government must set a clear time limit on the Helsinki negotiations and that the government must be careful about the possibility of there being a hidden agenda on the part of foreign governments or citizens who are involved in the negotiations. (OL-1)

[Translated by James Balowski.]