Acehnese demonstrate at UN and US Embassy in Jakarta

Aceh Kita – July 4, 2005
Acehnese students rally in support of self-government (Tarmizy Harva)
Acehnese students rally in support of self-government (Tarmizy Harva)

AK-38, Jakarta – On Monday July 4, hundreds of Acehnese from Greater Jakarta held a demonstration at the United Nations offices, the US Embassy, the offices of the Minister for Politics, Security and Legal Affairs and the State Palace.

The demonstrators, wearing head bands with the writing “self-government” and who had been gathering at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout since 12noon, then held a long-march to the UN offices on Jalan M.H. Thamrin. The rally caused a traffic jam as one lane was filled with demonstrators marching on foot, riding motorcycles and other pubic transport. Scores of police officers were visible directing traffic.

The action to support the Indonesian government’s continued negotiations with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Helsinki was organised by the Aceh People’s Association (Ikara), People for Peace (Mukad) and Trader’s Solidarity for Peace (Sepakad). During the long-march to the UN, the demonstrators brought a number of banners and posters with messages calling on the government to continue the negotiations with GAM.

Ikara chairperson Faisal Saifuddin said they are calling on the government not to be too stubborn over the issue of special autonomy as the only option to resolve the Aceh question. “We want the government to continue the Helsinki [negotiations]. The government mustn’t be too rigid on the offer of special autonomy, because GAM has already withdrawn its demand [for independence] in favor of self-government”, Saifuddin told Aceh Kita during a break in the action.

The hundreds of Acehnese chose to demonstrate at the UN and the US Embassy because they believe the UN and US can pressure the government to continue the Helsinki negotiations. Essentially they are disappointed with the opposition to the negotiations which has be shown by the politicians in Senayan (the national parliament). They believe that such opposition is no longer relevant since GAM has withdrawn its demand for independence. [dzie]