Thai, Philippine Envoys Study Aceh's Peace

Thai and Philippines delegations meeting with Aceh governor Zaini Abdullah and Wali Nanggroe Malik Mahmud on 18 December 2013

Banda Aceh (TAG) - Thai and Philippine delegations visited Aceh last month to learn about how it successfully resolved a three-decade armed conflict between Indonesia's central government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Twenty people from Thailand's Pattani province and 18 representing the Moro people of the Philippines met with government officials, academics, lawyers, activists and minority group representatives in Banda Aceh.
"The government of Thailand is trying to achieve peace in the Pattani region through negotiation. We hope that what has been achieved in Aceh can be a lesson for us," Pattani delegation head General Ekkachai Sriwilas said at a December 18th meeting with Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah and Guardian of State Malik Mahmud Al-Haythar.
"We have come to Aceh to learn from the Acehnese, how they prepared special autonomy laws and implemented (their 2005 peace deal)," said Pedrito Eisma, a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
A 40-year conflict between Moro Muslims and the Philippine government reached a milestone in October 2012, when Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a Malaysian-mediated framework agreement.
Hussein Munoz, another BTC member, added, "Like you, we are also tired of fighting. We hope what was achieved in Aceh can be achieved in Mindanao, so we can develop our region.”
Both Zaini and Malik were directly involved in peace talks that bore fruit in an August 2005 deal called the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The deal succeeded because both sides were strongly committed to peace and because of the quality of the deal itself, Zaini explained.
"Points in the Helsinki MoU were clear and not subject to multiple interpretations," Zaini said. Given mistrust between the two sides and earlier failed peace attempts, the peace process had some false starts, Malik recalled.
But both sides committed to peace while Aceh struggled to recover from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
"The most important thing is trust-building. Because there was a commitment from both sides to resolve the conflict through negotiation, trust slowly grew," he said.
"The success of peace in Aceh can become a model for resolution of conflict in Mindanao and southern Thailand. The reason is, we are all Malay, with majority-Muslim populations," Professor Yusny Sabi of State Islamic University Ar-Raniry said.
Rights activist Juanda Djamal said other regions could learn not only from Aceh's successes but also its flaws, "so they do not repeat the mistakes we made in Aceh".[]
Thai, Philippine Envoys Study Aceh's Peace Thai, Philippine Envoys Study Aceh's Peace Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on January 05, 2014 Rating: 5

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