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Perspectives on post-agreement experiences

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Two people from Aceh give short views on post-agreement experiences.

Two people from Aceh give short views on post-agreement experiences.

Tarmizi, Director of the Aceh People's Forum

When I was a student I joined the anti-Suharto movement. During martial law I escaped to Malaysia where I worked with the Aceh refugee centre. I am now in Banda Aceh and the Director of the Aceh People's Forum, an umbrella NGO in Aceh which works on political issues, development, and civilian participation.

Aceh's current political problems are around the formation of GAM as a political party and also around GAM's lack of inclusiveness. There is a feeling that those who feel excluded would foment rebellion. It would be very dangerous if the government and GAM leaders do not solve this problem. I think the Indonesian government is contributing to splits in GAM, thinking that it will make them weak. But it is not really like that. After they split there will be many factions and each will recruit other people not previously involved.

The reintegration programme only benefits the elite in GAM. This will have a big impact on horizontal conflict at village level... I think they have to change the programmes – do regional development in areas affected by the conflict, make infrastructure, make small-scale economic activity, but now they only make a priority of some victims.

There are not enough civil society activists participating. Intellectual civil society is not allowed to contribute. GAM has a stagnant programme – their only programme was independence. There was a long-term process of building GAM combatants' awareness of the goal of an independent Aceh. The peace process stopped this so now they have no idea how to make development run well in Aceh within Indonesian law and government. We need to change their thinking. We have to supply training, bring them ideas.

Rusyidah H. Mahmud, from Bireuen

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After my two brothers were killed, I was approached by GAM leaders to join the movement and I received two months' military training in 2000. I joined GAM because I wanted to defend Aceh and the dignity of Acehnese and to avenge the killing of my family. I don't want Aceh to ever be oppressed again.

Because of the peace process I can return to being an ordinary person again and live peacefully. I can also work and start my small business. I am very happy with the peace process. But my concern is many people have not been looked after. Some people have received aid, but many others have not. I got some money from reintegration. I got Rp. 10 million to start a small business. I have already enrolled in a course for fashion and making clothes. I hope to receive a grant so I can build a business using the skills I learned from the course.

Since I joined this co-operative with Tengku Nashiruddin, we have organised and got help. But many other female former combatants have not received any attention. In general, female combatants have not received help, especially in this area. I did hear some other female combatants were helped in other regions.

Not all things have been satisfactory. Not many promises have been fulfilled. Especially in the context of justice, the kids of my late brothers have not received any assistance. It seems like there is no future for them.