Indonesia has been one of the largest and most dangerous pieces in the terrorism puzzle. A huge (240 M, 1.9 sq km), oil-rich, ethnically diverse but predominantly (88%) Muslim
nation under a militarized government with a history of brutal repression and genocide, it has had a three decades long civil war with separatists in the province of Aceh.
Now there is reason to hope that the conflagration may be easing... or in danger of exploding uncontrollably. The Aceh separatist movement has signed a one-sided peace agreement under which they surrender weapons in exchange for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and modest financial assistance to make the transition from warriors to civilians.
The only American journalist who seems to have a clue about Indonesia, Allan Nairn
, said this on Democracy Now
But there is one big change under this deal, and that is it puts the armed GAM out of business, and that's a good thing. They should have -- GAM should have disarmed a long time ago. This now will clarify the situation. If now people in Aceh choose to speak out in favor of referendum, they're still liable to be killed. They run the same risk as before, but now at least there's a chance they won't be dying in vain, because up to now, the deaths of civilians, which is the basic fact of life in Aceh, had been obscured by the two-sided combat between the GAM and the Indonesian military. That's what's gotten all of the attention, obscuring the one-sided repression....
I think whether the deal ends up helping or hurting the situation really depends on what's done by the U.S. and Europe and Australia and the other outside powers, the executive branches in those powers. If they use this deal as an excuse to restore military and police aid and increase military and police aid to the TNI and the POLRI of Indonesia, that will strengthen those institutions. It will make matters worse. It will be a catastrophe both for Aceh and also for Papua in the eastern part of Indonesia, where 15,000 coast guard troops have been recently sent in, where there's mass killing of civilians, also the north and central islands of Indonesia, where the military and police have been fomenting Christian-Muslim grassroots violence. If this is used as an excuse to restore aid, it will end up making matters worse. So, a lot is hanging on the actions of the U.S.
In other words, if the Indonesian military exploits the situation, everyone will turn against them.
Anyone willing to take bets on what the Bush Administration does?
From Nairn's website
: the GAM rebels had all of 840 weapons. This is what the slaughter, kidnapping, and terrorization of thousands of civilians was about.