Women activists declare new political party in Aceh

Aceh Kita – May 21, 2007
PARAPP chairperson Zulhafah Lutfi (antarafoto)
PARAPP chairperson Zulhafah Lutfi (antarafoto)

Dara, Banda Aceh – A number of women’s activists that are concerned about the fate of women have declared a new local political party that has been given the name the Acehnese People’s Alliance Party for Women’s Concern (Partai Aliansi Rakyat Aceh Peduli Perempuan, PARAPP). The declaration was held at the Anjong Mon Mata Building at the governor’s official housing complex in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh on Sunday May 20. This is the third local political party that has been declared since the ratification of Law Number 20/2007 on Local Political Parties in Aceh.

The party, which is led by Zulhafah Lutfi, says it will focus on programs to struggle for women’s rights in Aceh, which up until now have been sidelined in the world of politics in the land of Seulanga (Aceh). Lutfi said that the party was born to empower women in various aspects of their lives by increasing the political role played by women.

Lutfi said that the party was born out of a recommendation at a seminar titled the Acehnese Women’s Awakening Committee that was held on 23-24 November 2006. “This is not a women’s party. But whoever is in the party is obliged to struggle for and give more attention to women’s problems”, she said following the declaration.

Ameer Hamzah, the general chairperson of the Star Reform Party and Illiza Saaduddin Djamal, the general chairperson of the Banda Aceh chapter of the United Development party, have welcomed the emergence of local political parties in Aceh. Particularly so if these local political parties focus on struggling for women’s rights in Aceh which have received little attention up until now. “This is very positive. This signifies that the process of democracy in Aceh is maturing, particularly in terms of women”, they said.

Aside from PARAPP, two other local parties have also been declared by activates and Islamic scholars, that is the Acehnese People’s Party (PRA) and the Gabthat Party [gabthat, meaning brave, strong or bold in Acehnese – JB.], which was declared by a number of Islamic scholars and members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Greater Aceh. GAM itself is also planning to change is form of struggle into a local political party but up until now, there are still no indications that GAM will declare itself as a party. [dzie]