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Military Chief Urges Aceh to Comply with Central Govt. Review of New Flag

By Ezra Sihite & Nurdin Hasan (THE JAKARTA GLOBE)
Admiral Agus Suhartono - AP PHOTO

Jakarta/Banda Aceh, TAG - Military chief of staff Adm. Agus Suhartono has urged the people of Aceh to refrain from flying the Free Aceh Movement flag for at least the next two weeks while the Home Affairs Ministry reviews the provincial bylaw allowing for a change in its flag and symbol.

“Yes, we will see what the decision [from the Home Affairs Ministry] is like. If [the flag is] not allowed, then we will pull it down,” Agus said in Jakarta on Monday.
He added that the army is not deploying additional personnel to maintain security in Aceh, and said that the local military command (Kodam Iskandar Muda) was capable of keeping the situation under control.
“We will settle the problem through discussions to reach an agreement. The bylaw is currently being evaluated and the regional administration has demanded an answer in 15 days,” he said.
Aceh Legislative Council (DPRA) chief Hasbi Abdullah said the DPRA is hoping that the central government will allow Aceh to use the new flag, which was once a symbol of struggle by Free Aceh Movement (GAM) guerillas.
Hasbi said that Commission A of the DPRA, which oversees legal, security and administrative matters, was discussing the home affairs minister’s recent clarification about the symbols used in the flag.
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi last week submitted a 13-point clarification about the bylaw on the Aceh flag and symbol. The minister said that the bylaw violated a 2007 government regulation and other laws, as well as Islamic Shariah rules, because an animal is used in the symbol.
The new provincial seal features the buraq, a mythical winged horse with a human face, and lion that was associated with the GAM.
“We ask the government to let the [new] Aceh flag remain as it is, because it’s been declared in the bylaw and reflects the aspirations of the Aceh people,” said Hasbi, a senior politician with the Aceh Party, a local political party set up by former GAM guerillas.
“We will explain to the central government that the intention to declare the star and crescent flag as the Aceh flag does not mean that Aceh wants to gain independence. We have no intention whatsoever to free Aceh,” he added.
He said that the movement to make Aceh an independent state had been buried since the Indonesian government and GAM leaders signed a peace treaty in Helsinki, Finland, in 2005.
The peace treaty ended the 30-year armed conflict in Aceh in which more than 25,000 civilians died.
“I need to stress that the red and white flag will still be hoisted in Aceh because that’s the national flag. The Aceh flag is not the sign of sovereignty, but a [sign of] unity for all Aceh people,” he said.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has reiterated his disapproval of the Aceh authorities’ decision to adopt the flag of a defunct separatist group as the provincial standard, calling it a step backward.
Yudhoyono said at a media conference in Jakarta on Friday that the move was a clear infraction of national laws banning the use of separatist insignia in official flags or seals.
“I don’t want us to go backward. I want us to move forward together in developing Aceh and making it safer and more prosperous,” he said.
“Let us not give rise to new problems by digging up past conflicts.”[]

Military Chief Urges Aceh to Comply with Central Govt. Review of New Flag Military Chief Urges Aceh to Comply with Central Govt. Review of New Flag Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on April 09, 2013 Rating: 5

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