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SBY Not a Fan of Aceh Flag


By Ezra Sihite, Nurdin Hasan & Arientha Primanita (THE JAKARTA GLOBE)

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ~ WIKIMEDIA.ORG PHOTO
Jakarta, TAG – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) admitted that he has sent a government minister to Aceh to dissuade local officials from adopting a separatist symbol as the once-restive province’s official flag.
Speaking at the State Palace on Monday, SBY said the adoption of the crescent star flag, a symbol of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) that led a bloody armed rebellion against Indonesia before signing a peace deal with Jakarta in 2005, “needs to be evaluated.”
The move, the president said, could destabilize the ongoing peace in Aceh and make the resource-rich province “prone to influence by irresponsible parties.”
SBY said that Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi went to Aceh on Monday to hold talks with members of the Aceh Regional Representatives Council (DPRA), which enacted a bylaw on the adoption of the flag last week.
Gamawan criticized the DPRA’s move, saying that the body should have consulted with Jakarta on the proposal to ensure that it would not violate the 2005 Helsinki Treaty, which ended a 30-year war that killed at least 25,000 people, mostly civilians.
The treaty stipulates that the GAM must demobilize all of its military troops and bar them from wearing uniforms or displaying military insignia or symbols, although it allows the people of Aceh to “use regional symbols including a flag, a crest and a hymn.”
But Gamawan argued that the province could have found a less controversial symbol, adding that the adoption violates a 2007 government regulation that bans the use of separatist symbols.
“There are symbols from the time of Iskandar Muda. Why can’t Aceh adopt those symbols?” the minister asked in reference to a 17th century Acehnese Sultan who transformed Aceh into one of the most powerful kingdoms in the region.
“As far as symbols go, there are regulations controlling them. We will have [Aceh] follow [such stipulations].”
Earlier, Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah, former GAM Foreign Minister in exile in Sweden, defended the adoption of the crescent star flag, saying that it “is a manifestation of the people of Aceh’s cultural struggle. This [adoption] is what Aceh desires.”
Zaini and the DPRA also made the buraq and lion, another GAM symbol, Aceh’s official crest. The governor instructed all public offices in Aceh to gradually adopt the flag and the crest.
The flag rally ~ NURDIN HASAN PHOTO
Meanwhile, more that 1,000 people descended onto the streets of Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, on Monday to show their support for the adoption of the GAM’s flag and crest.
Crowds gathered in the heart of Banda Aceh and paraded across the city with cars, pickup trucks and motorcycles while waving the crescent star flag and shouting “long live Aceh.”
“We are just convoying across Banda Aceh to demonstrate the people’s voice and demand that the flag be approved by the central government,” said Marzuki, a flag supporter.
Another protester, Indra, who hailed from Southwest Aceh, said the demonstration was a spontaneous response to Jakarta’s objection.
“The flag represents Aceh’s pride. This is what we want. We can’t wait to wave the Aceh flag,” he said.[]

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SBY Not a Fan of Aceh Flag SBY Not a Fan of Aceh Flag Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on April 02, 2013 Rating: 5

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