Raw News


News & Letters

List of Incidents

Info on Refugee

Civil Movements


Quotable Quotes

Photo Gallery

Video Gallery





WorldWide Media

Support Programs

Malay Edition


Fragile archipelago

Indonesia secrete
Insurgency | View map | Predecessors | Current paths



Early History Acheh (also spelled Achin or Atjeh) is a Buddhist state that flourished about AD 500 in northern Sumatra, was visited by Arab, Indian, and Chinese merchants and pilgrims. According to some historians, Islam first enters the Indonesian archipelago, and possibly all of South Asia, through Acheh sometime around the year 700. The first Islamic kingdom, Perlak (a prosperous trading port in what is now Acheh), is established in the year 804.
1607-36 Acheh's power reached its height in the time of Sultan Iskandar Muda. In that period there were frequent wars with the Portuguese at Malacca, and the Portuguese fleet was defeated at Bintan in 1614.
1811 The Acheh-England Friendship Treaty was signed, firmly stating mutual defense and that an attack against one is considered an attack against the other.
Note: This Treaty has never been revoked and under international law the United Kingdom is still obliged to defend Acheh foreign aggression.
1824 London Treaty (also referred to as the Anglo-Dutch treaty) is signed. Through this instrument, the Dutch gain control of all the British possessions on the Island of Sumatra (including Acheh, at the Island's northern tip). In exchange, the Dutch surrender their possessions in India and withdraw all claims in Singapore. In the same treaty, however, the Dutch agree to allow independence for Acheh.
1871 The British authorize the Dutch to invade Acheh, possibly to prevent French annexation. This begins the Acheh War, which lasts intermittently from 1873 to 1942. It is the longest war ever fought by the Dutch, costing them over 10, 000 lives.
1942 The Dutch finally abandon their attempt to occupy Acheh, shortly before the Japanese invade Indonesia. After attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese turn south to conquer several South East Asian countries, including Singapore and Dutch East Indies. In March 1942, the Dutch colonial army surrenders to the Japanese.
August 1945 Just days before the Japanese surrendered to the Allies, the Republic of Indonesia proclaims its independence. Soon, however, both the British and Dutch are back in the region, to pursue political and economic interests.
1947 Linggarjati Agreement is signed by Indonesia and the Netherlands in March 1947. In the agreement, the Dutch recognize Indonesian sovereignty over the Islands of Java, Sumatra, and Madura. But, many Indonesians view the deal as a violation of Indonesia's 1945 independence proclamation, which implied sovereignty over additional territory. The agreement leads to another four years of aggression and territorial deputes between the Netherlands and Indonesia.
1949 Round Table Conference Agreements are signed. Brokered under the auspices of the United Nations, the agreements provide for a transfer of sovereignty between the Netherlands' territory of the Dutch East Indies and a fully independent Indonesia. On December 27, 1949, the Dutch East Indies ceases to exist and becomes the sovereignty Federal Republic of Indonesia. The Kingdom of Acheh is included in the agreements despite the fact that it has never been formally incorporated into the Dutch colonial possession. Subsequently, the Java-based Indonesian government forcibly annexes Acheh.
1950s Indonesia experiences the "Darul Islam" ("House of Islam") rebellion, in which rebels in the West Java countryside attempt to establish an Islamic state. Achenese support the rebellion, which takes years to crush. This movement is viewed as the precursor to Acheh's own independence movement.
1959 Indonesia grants Acheh "special territory" status, which supposedly confers greater autonomy in religious, educational, and cultural matters.
1976 "Acheh Merdeka" ("Free Acheh") is founded as armed resistance group to pursue independence for Ace. Achenese want independence not only because of their history but also they see themselves as culturally distinct from other Indonesians, they fell they practice a purer form of Islam, they believe the Indonesian government exploits Acheh's natural resources, and they reject the Indonesian policy of "transmigration".
Late 1970s Indonesian authorities conduct mass arrests of Acheh Medeka members and effectively shut down their activities.
1989 Acheh Merdeka is reborn and is also known as the Acheh Sumatra National Liberation Front.
Early 1990s The Indonesian military launches Operation Red Net, a counterinsurgency campaign. Acheh is designated a military operations area.
Note: Operation Red Net (DOM period): starts early 1990s ends August 22, 1998. In that period the figure of incidents as follows: at least 9200 were killed; at least 90.000 people were tortured; about 18.000 become orphanages; more than 300 women and children were raped.
1990 Achenese seekers asylum fleeting to Malaysia. More than 50 Achenese riot at Langkap detention center in Malaysia to protest impending deportation.
1991 Malaysia reportedly arrests over 280 Achenese activists but keeps them in detention. Another 550 Achenese were forcibly deported on an Indonesian Navy ship, many in critical condition and some died untreated on the ship. Many of them were detained at the notorious Kopassus Rancong Interrogation Centre (North Acheh), from where they "disappeared" without a trace.
1995 Malaysia grants temporary residence and work authorization to 183 Achenese, including 53 who were camping at the UNHCR compound and another 130 who were in Malaysian detention centers.
December 24, 1996 More than 50 Achenese riot at Langkap detention center in Malaysia to protest impending deportation (the deportation does not occur).
December 25, 1996 Forty Achenese enter the U.S., French, Dutch, Swiss, British and Italian embassies in Kuala Lumpur and request asylum. The U.S., French, British and Italian embassies allow Malaysian police to enter their premises and forcibly remove the Achenese, whom the police then detain. Eight asylum seekers remain in the Dutch and Swiss embassies (in 1997, the UNHCR grants mandate refugee status to all eight).
1997 As a result of the Asian economic crisis, Malaysia starts deporting large numbers of Indonesian "illegal workers", but still refrains from deporting Achenese.
March 26, 1998 Malaysia deports 545 Achenese from detention centers. Riots break out in the detention centers, and an unknown number of Achenese escape.
March 30, 1998 Fourteen Achenese asylum seekers drive a truck through a gate of the UNHCR compound in Kuala Lumpur. UNHCR allows them to remain at the compound while it determines their status.
April 10, 1998 Thirty-five Achenese break into U.S., Swiss, French, and Brunei compounds in Kuala Lumpur. All but the U.S. embassy hand them over to Malaysian authorities; eight remain at the U.S. embassy, which asks UNHCR to determine their status.
May 1998 Indonesian President Soeharto resigns from office following large-scale riots in Jakarta and widespread political and economic discontent. The new president, B.J. Habibie, promises reform.
June 10, 1998 UNHCR determines that the fourteen Achenese at its compound and the eight at the U.S. embassy are refugees in need of protection. The United States agrees to resettle up to half of the Achenese referred by UNHCR in Malaysia, but none from the U.S. embassy. Other Achenese in Malaysia remain in detention or in hiding.
July-Aug. 1998 Longstanding separatist movements in Irian Jaya and East Timor gather steam. Indonesia incorporated Irian Jaya as a province in 1969 and forcibly annexed East Timor in 1976 (a move not recognized by the United Nations).
Early August 1998 Mass graves are discovered in Acheh, supporting the contention of many Achenese that Indonesian soldiers killed numerous Acheh Merdeka members and suspected sympathizers.
August 7, 1998 The Indonesia defense minister, General Wiranto, apologizes to the people of Acheh for atrocities previously committed by the military and announces a withdrawal of combat troops from Acheh within a month.
August 22, 1998 The first group of 250 combat troops is withdrawn from Acheh.
August 31, 1998 More than 650 troops leave Acheh, sparking anti-military riots that expand into anti-Chinese violence.
Early September 1998 Following additional riots in Acheh, the Indonesian government sends 300 troops back to Acheh into Acheh. They are withdrawn soon after, when peace is restored.
Aug.-Oct. 1998 The Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission, the Indonesian military, and private human rights organizations release estimates of atrocities committed in Acheh during the military operation period that began in 1991.
Note: Figures of incidents after DOM to early December 2000 as follows: at least 920 were killed; at least 37. 000 people were tortured; 1270 buildings burnt; at least 12000 persons become refugees.
Oct.-Nov. 1998 Indonesia experiences continued civil unrest, which president Habibie says could threaten national unity. Although Malaysia is not known to have deported any Achenese since March, it has not promised to refrain from deporting them. Many Achenese asylum seekers in Malaysia remain in detention or in hiding.
January 3-9, 1999 Korem II Llokseumawe kill ten civilians and torture over eight others.
February 3, 1999 Military/Police kill over ten civilians at Arakundo river, Ide Cut, North Acheh.
May 3, 1999 Civilians conduct demonstration at KRAF Factory (Simpang KKA), Lhokseumawe, North Acheh; the Indonesia kill over 58 of them and about 100 were tortured.
July 23, 1999 The Indonesian military kill a guru Bantaqiah and his 78 followers and over ten of his students were tortured.
Nov., 8 1999 Gathering for Acheh referendum conducted by SIRA. Over 1.5, millions Achenese come to Banda Acheh to exercise political views. No causalities were reported.
Nov., 8-14 2000 Indonesia arm forces killed at least 65 people who were in attempt to reach Banda Acheh to support referendum; hundreds of civilians were also tortured.
Dec. 6, 2000 Three Humanitarian Aid Workers were killed in North Acheh by Ampon Thayeb and his followers who have worked with military in Lhokseumawe area for over a decade.
August 8, 2001 TNI butchered 41 Achenese villagers in East Acheh. On Wednesday, August 8, 2001, AGAM soldiers launched a pre-dawn blietzkrieg on one of TNI concentrations in the State Farm Afdeling IV Julok, East Acheh. In this assault, estimated 25-40 TNI were killed or wounded. AGAM withdrew from the scene shortly after that (approx. at 0600 hours). On Thursday, August 9, 2001, TNI reinforcement arrived. With the help of local Javanese militiamen, TNI rounded up 42 Achenese villagers from the villages adjacent to the State Farm Afdeling IV Julok. After a brief interrogation, they were fired upon with automatic rifles and sub-machine guns. 31 villagers died on the spot, 10 were critically injured, while a villager escaped safely.
November 2002 Security forces encircle the Paya Cot Trieng village, north Aceh, with 500 to 1,000 troops in an attempt to quell GAM. The mission fails.
Dec 26, 2004 A quake measuring 9.0 struck the coast of Acheh and triggered a tsunami. Confirmed tsunami death toll for Acheh February 03/2005 passed 287,534 (missing: 132,197); homeless: 617,159. In Medan, 240 deaths. Global death toll passed 356,000. [Interactive via NY Times and Media (may requires reg): Acheh Unfolded | Before and After | Aerial views - details | From the Epicenter | Acheh's Destruction | Global | Images-Video]
Jan 9, 2005 PNA/ASNLF replies with a sharply worded statement: Deplores the arrival in Acheh of members of the thuggish so-called Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the terroristic Indonesia Mujahidin Council (MMI). They are not welcome in Acheh and have never been supported by the Achenese people, nor has their presence been requested. NGOs also claim that both, FPI which has gained notoriety through raiding bars and nightclubs in Jakarta as well as through extortion (FPI has at times been in cahoots with police and soldiers, and sometimes in competition with them), and MMI, suspected of being linked to Al-Qaida and of being responsible for the bomb attacks in Bali and Jakarta, sent forces to Acheh, possibly to some extent even by way of military aircraft.
Jan 14-15, 2005 Troops kill one 6 year old child, 7 civilians and 5 GAM members. The incident takes place just few days after the deadly waves. (in-depth: About the killings)
March 28, 2005 Over 700 people died. An earthquake of magnitude 8.7 struck off the coast (Nias island) of northern Acheh, not far from the epicentre of the magnitude 9.0 quake three months earlier. (in-depth: Largest earthquakes since 1900)
August 15, 2005 Peace agreement signed between the Indonesian government and the Free Acheh Movement (GAM). Read the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU): English; Bahasa Indonesia
      Sources: Britannica Encyclopedia, Encarta Encyclopedia, The United States Committee for Refugee (USCR), Human Rights Watch, SIRA Acheh, U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake, Agence France-Presse, Indonesian Government Bureaus and Independent Agencies.
Other information on CNN

Timeline in depth:

>  Insurgency in Acheh

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia