Aceh Politics

Apr 14th, 2009, in Opinion, by

AcehWho is behind the recent violence in Aceh, and the sharia laws.

Aceh Politics – More Tolerant than Jakarta’s?

With all the attention going, inevitably, to Indonesia’s parliamentary elections this month, not many media have focused on Aceh.

Candidates including ex-GAM resistance fighters in non-Jakarta-based parties are facing savage intimidation by ‘persons unknown.’ In “Terror and Threats Still Rife on Aceh Campaign Trail” (Jakarta Globe), 1st April, it was reported that since the end of last year, a series of grenade throwing incidents has occurred, mostly against Aceh Party leaders’ homes. On the last Monday of March, the latest attack happened at the home of Alimuddin Jabat, chairman of the AP branch in Subulussalam City, happily without fatal consequences. There has since been at least one murder of a prominent local political figure.

Partai Aceh

Oddly, the National Police have taken suspects in for questioning but seem coy about identifying them, though it turns out they’ve been shipped off to Jakarta.

Abdul Hamid, of the United Aceh Party, used typical cowed euphemism when he said that

I don’t want to name those who engage in terror, but everyone knows who they are.

Golkar, the ex-dictator’s party, boldly denounced the “cadres and sympathisers of the Aceh Party” as the villains, but given Golkar’s record of serving as a tyrant’s pliant tool throughout the archipelago, this accusation rings rather hollow.

Could it be “rogue” elements of the military, moonlighting with former members of their puppet militia? If so, why? Just childish vengeance for perceived slights, or are there high-ups anxious that Achenese might be weary of the mediaeval laws foisted on them by Jakarta? Imagine the effect on Jakarta’s creeping surrender to Islamist extremism if decent democratic Muslims in the ‘Verandah of Mecca’ demobilised the Islamonazi sharia police.

Despite the democratic rights enshrined in the peace agreement, the new provincial authority has thus far continued the Jakarta-imposed policy of sharia primitivism, under which whippings are used to punish minor misdemeanours like canoodling and playing cards for money.

Many articulate locals don’t like it, suggesting it was a ploy to distract Acehnese from national (Acehnese) allegiance by the use of sectarian passions.

In “Aceh parties push sharia, to reinstate identity, keep peace” (Jakarta Post), Acehnese politicians had some surprising things to say, considering their territory was often described as Mecca’s Verandah.

Aceh Party spokesman Adnan Beuransyah is reported as declaring that

‘adopting Islamic values in daily life is supposed to be an individual obligation, without any external repressive factors.’

An excellent sentiment that most of us would applaud, surely.

Although one party, SIRA, supports sharia law, even it says defensively that the lashings are

“only given at a very soft level”

Clearly they ain’t proud of it!

Thamren Ananda

Admirably, the People’s Aceh Party Secretary General, Thamren Ananda, stoutly declared that

‘the implementation of sharia law is clearly politically driven. This issue has been used by the central government to silence turbulence in Aceh.’

If his PRA wins the local election, they’ll hold a referendum to let the citizens decide to keep or drop Islamic law. Tellingly, Thamren Ananda added that

the current system is more like an Arabisation movement.

So two questions, possibly linked -who is behind the killings – and who is behind the savage sharia laws; seems like Acehnese themselves don’t care for them, so is this related to Jakarta grubbing around for Islamist support, as happened with the suppression of Ahmadiyah religious freedom?

And of course both questions’ answers may depend on who won the Acehnese Provincial poll.

15 Comments on “Aceh Politics”

  1. David says:

    Unfortunately the KPU website is only listing the national DPR election results for Aceh, with Demokrat on almost 40%, which is interesting but the numbers are still small.

    The Partai Aceh people are claiming to have won a majority for the local parliament election based on quick counts, they even claim to have won areas which are traditionally not GAM strongholds.

  2. Lairedion says:

    This is an interesting article that deserves more attention.

    In Rotterdam there’s a small Acehnese community (basically GAM members or GAM sympathizers). I get to know some of them. There are very devout Muslims but not a single soul ever bothered about introducing sharia law.

    Now I know there are not representative for the whole of Aceh but everybody knows the introduction of sharia in Aceh was politically driven and not addressing the wishes of the Acehnese.

  3. David says:

    Well the DPR votes in Aceh are interesting:

    Partai Demokrat 38.548%

    Partai Golongan Karya 12.083%

    Partai Keadilan Sejahtera 7.507%

    Partai Amanat Nasional 5.778%

    Partai Persatuan Pembangunan 4.678%

    Partai Bintang Reformasi 2.215%

    Partai Bulan Bintang 2.079%

    The Golkar vote has held up from 2004 but PPP, PAN, PBR, PBB have collapsed, PKS fallen somewhat. It’s all gone to Demokrat, but not sure what their local position is on sharia in Aceh…although there is the argument that now that sharia is in force, to whatever extent, the Islamic parties have little to distinguish themselves by, little to campaign on except the usual anti-corruption business.

  4. Mr Tic Tac Toe says:

    Tn. Patung, Yth:

    PPP, PAN, PBR, PBB have collapsed, PKS fallen somewhat

    A courageous ex-GAM apostate lady named Tannia Nasution has predicted this long time ago.

    Pushing sharia law in a democratic country will somehow lessen the influence of islamic parties.

  5. David says:

    Is this she? –

    A rebel…..Ross will be disappointed in her though as she seems to be a Marxist.

  6. Rambutan says:

    Demokrat’s good performance is likely linked to SBY. He is perceived as the only figure able to guarantee the sustainability of the peace process. Syariah is a currently a non-issue in Aceh – certainly didn’t play a role in the elections.

  7. Mr Tic Tac Toe says:

    Tn. Patung, Yth:

    Is this she? –

    Yeah, that’s her.

    Ross will be disappointed in her though as she seems to be a Marxist.

    P. Lairedion will be disappointed too, she is a born-again christian now, converted from islam.

  8. Ross says:

    I’m off to Aussie tomorrow but will indeed have comments to make once I get there. Curious how she can combine Born-Again Christian views with Marxism.

  9. Lairedion says:


    I’m happy for her she can make her own choice….

  10. Mr Tic Tac Toe says:

    Tn. Rambutan, Yth:
    I just finished reading this article in politikana:

    Somebody should bring him here. πŸ™‚

    Pak Lairedion,

    I thought you dislike God freaks.
    My mistake.

  11. David says:

    Looks like Partai Aceh won 45 out of 69 seats for DPRA with 262.181 votes, 47.5%. Then:

    Partai Demokrat, 12%,
    Partai Golkar 4%,
    Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) 4%,
    Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP) 4%,
    Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN) 3%,
    Partai Suara Independen Rakyat Aceh (SIRA) 2%,
    Partai Rakyat Aceh (PRA) 2%,
    Partai Daulat Aceh 1%,
    Partai Bulan Bintang (PBB) 1%.

  12. Rambutan says:

    How do 47.5% of votes translate into 65% of seats??

  13. Rambutan says:

    Press release for the only survey conducted in Aceh:

    Based on an independent verification of the vote count results of the Aceh provincial legislative council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Aceh or DPRA) on the legislative election held on April 9, 2009, Aceh Party is projected to win in the majority of polling stations with 43.8% of the votes. Other projected percentages include the Democratic Party with 14.3%, followed by the Golkar Party with 6.6%, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) with 3.8%, the National Mandate Party (PAN) with 3.4%, and the United Development Party (PPP) with 3%. These numbers are based on the Sample Based Observation (SBO) that was conducted by e- CARD with technical assistance from the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

  14. David says:

    Hi Rambutan, I don’t know if there are official figures yet, mine were from Republika.

  15. fanglong says:

    Can this possible sharia implementation/manipulation be traced back to the central government without implying Partai Demokrat’s consent ? On what kind of razor’s edge is SBY dancing ?

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