Friday, April 12, 2013

Reframing Peace Process in Aceh; perspective GAM and Non GAM

Two days ago, i watched a video presentation ( ) by Acehnese women speaking about Women and Peace process in Aceh. Her name is Shadia Marhaban, who is well known as the only women presented in the peace negotiation took place in Helsinki on August 15, 2005. What make me interested to analyze  this presentation is about the way she represented conflict of Aceh and peace process which she claimed that she has gone through the process. But, here i focus on discussion about re-framing Aceh conflict and peace process. To compare with the video presentation on Shadia Marhaban, i used testimony of Suraiya Kamaruzaman during workshop in Bogor on June 2009, who is one of women activist from Aceh. Based on the social background of two of women, i may put Shadia as representative of Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which she declared her self as member of GAM and used to work as translator of CNN during the war in Aceh. On the other hand, Suraiya will represent ordinary Acehnese women, who never been member of GAM. 

I am not going to discuss about the detail of presentation, which i think you can just open the link. But i would like to pick up some of important points from the presentation, which was really struck me as an outsider to listen about conflict of Aceh and peace process from the perspective of GAM.

Self-Determination, say who?
"Aceh conflict is about self-determination," said Shadia. I think we may hear this statement often from the media or testimony from Acehnese. Perhaps it is true, when we look at from the point of view of GAM. As ex GAM, Shadia put historical approach to explain that Aceh was an independent empire, before forced to join with Republic of Indonesia. Therefore, it was reasonable when GAM struggle for the freedom of Aceh and create an independent state.  This motivation has been used by GAM to rebel Indonesia government and took years of fighting. So, what about the rest of Acehnese people? Some of them remind as ordinary people who were just silent during the war, dealing with impact of war or even many of them become victim of sexual violence. 

In one side, it is truth that Aceh conflict considers as self-determination, but do people of Aceh agree on that? Do they perceive conflict as fight to get independent from Republic of Indonesia? If yes, why was referendum movement not supported by all Acehnese? The fact that in 2005, during Acehnese Women Conference recommended to promote peace instead of referendum, which to me it is obvious that idea of referendum mostly belong to GAM. By this fact, I believe that we could see the multi voices inside Aceh itself, and I my self can feel that it is not single voice.

Peace Agreement, who represented whom?, where were women?

 It does not mean when GAM and RI were the only two parties invited to sit in the peace agreement, that give meaning that GAM was representing the people of Aceh, because RI was representing as government of Indonesia, who wanted to end conflict. So, my question is who representing the non GAM population? 

Why was GAM not enough? The fact that not all Acehnese was member of GAM and many of them even did not support GAM, but they were definitely victim and survivor of Aceh conflict. Many of them were killed, tortured, raped, kidnapped, and economically paralyzed because of conflict, trauma etc. So, the ordinary people of Aceh (non GAM) should have representative in Helsinki? why? because GAM and RI were not representing the rest of people of Aceh who suffered from conflict and violence? 

In this situation, i criticize concept of peace agreement, which always come into single picture where conflicting parties are the only representative who sit on the table and talk about peace. While, the people who are not part of conflict parties, but they are definitely affected by conflict, are neglected from the process of formal peace agreement. Moreover, in the context of Aceh, there were a lot of initiatives before peace agreement took place in several parts of Aceh, which did not only speak about referendum but about peace. And from the documentation of the Flower Aceh, women group under leadership of Flower Aceh was one of the group said "we want peace" not referendum. 

Regarding of almost absent of women in peace agreement, Shadia claimed that it was because both GAM and RI just did not think about it or no idea about why do we need to bring women in peace agreement. I rather have different idea about the reason of lack of women representation on the peace agreement. In my feminist perspective, it is not because both GAM and RI did not think about it, but because they thought that women's role should not on the table of peace agreement. what women had been done during the conflict was just overlooked by GAM and RI. Every effort on taking care family and community members, to ensure that food available for member of community, to handle community leadership, and to keep economic activity were running though they might put their life in high risk. All of these roles were just considered by GAM and RI as gender role, which women should take up. These were not part of peace initiative which need to be appreciated and consider their representation in the peace agreement. 

Is self governance Syariah Law ? 
" One one thing that i dont like Gus Dur is allowing Aceh to have Syariah Law", Said Suraiya. She felt that Syariah law is not answering problem of Aceh. It adds more problems, especially because the formulation of Syariah law was very much political. When i was listening Shadia's presentation about Self-Governance, that she believes the best model to have in Aceh. It seems to me she did not mean that autonomous is the correct one. 

I may argue here that self-governance is an abstract concept. Simple this interprets as autonomy region where the local has authority to govern their own territory. From the presentation of Shadia, it seems that the new government of Aceh is effective in maintaining peace. But she did not give any comment on implementation of syariah law (Islamic Law) as the best alternative what so called self governance? On the contrary, Suraiya's point of view about syariah law as political compromise which finally suffer women more. Because the content of syariah is not essentially to raise justice, but to just be different from national law. So, the politisation of religion in Aceh is very much obvious. 

If we see the impact of Syariah Law to women and the poor, i am doubting that Peace in Aceh is sustaining. Rather it is eroding because the missinterpretation and misused of power. The distribution 70:30 of natural resources to local people, is a certainly good price to give for Aceh peace agreement. Yusuf Kalla, during conference on Asia Leaders held by PGI on end of February explained clearly that GAM could agree with RI because of sharing natural resources. But now, do we see that distribution of natural resources for the sake of Acehnese's welfare? Do Acehnese people improve their quality of life? If yes,but why report of BRR showed conversely that Acehnese was getting poor after in 2006 up to now? As women activist, I am dissapointed to presentation of Shadia, which did not explore about the existence of Syariah law as a new threat of peace in Aceh. 

Finally, there is no single potreat of realities, including the way i discussed about realities of Aceh as outsider. This is also subjective of me as womenpeacebuilder who try to put in the middle path that what Shadia has been promoting is JUST PERSPECTIVE OF GAM. Which is fine and has subjective truth also. However, as an outsider, I really want you the reader to always seek other voices in re-framing conflict in Aceh and peace process. So, you may get better understanding to the situation in Aceh. 

You can agree or disagree with me, and we can always have dialogue about my writing. 
I can be also contacted at 


No comments:

Post a Comment