In Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh, the democratisation process that began in Indonesia in 1998 encouraged the overt expression of regionalist sentiment and resentment of the military. The surprising extent of both made Aceh, home to a long-standing independence movement, the next potential candidate after East Timor to break away from Indonesia, and led to harsh repressive measures by the military.
The tsunami of December 2004 brought incalculable destruction and loss to Aceh, which was at the epicentre of the disaster. At the same time, it brought international sympathy and aid on an unprecedented scale, along with new pressures for peace. In August 2005 Indonesia and Aceh signed a peace agreement designed to put an end to the conflict between the two sides.
This book offers a guide to the complexities of modern Aceh as it moves toward peace and reconstruction. The balanced coverage by leading authorities, historians and political scientists as well as journalists, probes the underlying causes of the conflict that has pitted Aceh against Jakarta. It shows why the Acehnese entered the Indonesian republic in 1945 with an unparalleled determination to resist outside domination, and how these attitudes have shaped Aceh’s relations with the Indonesian state.