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Perspectives on Aceh's peace process

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Two short views on Aceh’s peace process from people involved in the conflict.

Two short views on Aceh’s peace process from people involved in the conflict.

Nashiruddin was the Chief GAM Representative and Negotiator during the Humanitarian Pause and the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement

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"The peace agreement is a reality and I think GAM members accept that. Yes we can fight, but we are not sure that we can win through war. What is a war like that? Only war for war. We have the MoU, so why don't we use our time learning how to run our country, instead of fighting and war.

The Aceh Monitoring Mission did an okay job but left too early. They did not want to take risks. They wanted to show they had done a good job in a very short time – and they thought if they stayed here longer the success of their mission would have been questioned!

The main steps required now are implementing the agreement and socialising it – because most people don't know the details of the MoU. Without socialisation of the MoU, maybe another group will come with ideas that can spoil the peace, a group that talks about independence and persuades people to follow them. Also the people should benefit from the peace. This is important, because if they benefit then maybe they won't be persuaded by such a group. Economic and political justice is the key.

We hope hardliners don't win the 2009 elections. It would affect the peace process, but that will also depend on the international community and their pressure on Indonesia. The international community don't think only about peace, but they do have an interest in what they can get out of peace – it's human, it's natural."

Mukhtar Hassan, from Jangka Bireuen

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"I was a teacher, but then I got involved in GAM. The peace process has brought security, no more feelings of fear. Like many others, I have been able to come back home, to start my job. Without fighting, I can work.

Has the process brought justice? If we talk about justice, no, it is not just, the world is not a place for the just. However, if all the points in the peace agreement are implemented fully, I will be happy with the process. But the key is that all points have to be implemented, especially on the economic empowerment of former combatants. Besides the economy, there must be education facilities for orphans and assistance for the families of former combatants. That will make many families of former GAM combatants happy and can erase memories of the past.

In terms of reintegration, in practice there is discrimination. Some have benefited and some have not got any support at all. I am not yet happy because I want the whole Acehnese population to be helped. The economy must be addressed to improve the income per capita, education, and quality of life of local people. Without this there will be a long-term problem. A great number of economic pilot projects must be organised. I expect that to happen.

I still communicate with my former GAM comrades, but my activities right now are all about improving my economic condition. What I want for myself and others in the long term is that those in charge of Aceh address the problem of poverty, with no gap between villagers and rural areas. No more repetition of past oppression. Aceh is very rich, we deserve better."