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Aceh: A timeline of insurgency


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The province of Aceh has long been regarded as Indonesia's ticking time bomb; an unresolved separatist insurgency that refuses to die out.

Fighting has raged for about 26 years with at least 6,000 deaths in the past decade and 1,000 deaths this year alone.

Following is a timeline outlining the build-up to the current state of affairs in Aceh, home to four million people in Indonesia's most northerly province.

About 12th century AD -- Islam is believed to have first entered the archipelago through Aceh.

1871 -- Aceh is occupied by the Dutch, one of the last parts of future Indonesia to come under Dutch colonial rule.

1873 -- Dutch declare war and invade Aceh. There follows intermittent conflict until 1942.

August 17, 1945 -- Indonesia declares independence from the Netherlands.

December 17, 1949 -- Aceh province is established and Teungku Daud Beureueh is elected governor.

December 27, 1949 -- The Dutch East Indies ceases to exist and becomes the Federal Republic of Indonesia, led by Sukarno.

August 8, 1950 -- The Council of Ministers divide Indonesia into ten provinces, incorporating Aceh into the province of North Sumatra. The decree on the establishment of Aceh province is disregarded.

January 23, 1951 -- Prime Minister M. Natsir announces the dissolution of the Aceh province and absorption into North Sumatra.

September 20, 1953 -- Daud Beureueh declares Aceh independent from Indonesia. Numerous Acehnese back the rebellion.

1959 -- After prolonged conflict with rebels, the central government gives Aceh "special territory" status, conferring on it a high degree of autonomy in religious, educational and cultural matters.

1965 -- Suharto succeeds Sukarno as head-of-state.

December 4, 1976 -- Teungku Hasan M. di Tiro establishes the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) for an independent Islamic state. The Indonesian government responds with mass arrests of GAM members.

1977 -- Disaffection with economic conditions and political oppression under Suharto's regime leads a local election victory over the ruling Golkar party.

1982 -- Second Golkar defeat in local elections.

1989 -- The GAM, under its new name "Aceh-Sumatra National Liberation Front" (ASNLF), emerges from underground activity, attacking police and military installations.

1990 -- Aceh is designated a "special combat zone" (DOM) by the Indonesian army, which then directs counter insurgency operations against the ASNLF. An eight-year period of fighting follows leading to the death and/or disappearance of at least 760 people.

August 1998 -- Increasing protests from locals and human rights activists, as well as the fall of president Suharto see Aceh's military rule lifted.

May 2000 -- President Abdurrahman Wahid reduces the presence of non-Acehnese forces in the province.

May 12, 2000 -- The government under President Wahid signs a three-month humanitarian ceasefire agreement with GAM representatives in Geneva, in order to end the violence in the territory.

May 18, 2000 -- A human rights tribunal convicts 24 Indonesian soldiers and one civilian of murdering 57 villagers during a separatist uprising in 1999.

June 2, 2000 -- A three-month ceasefire is implemented in Aceh.

December 2000 -- President Wahid visits Banda Aceh, the capital of the province, for two hours. Rebel leaders refuses to meet Wahid. About 12 people die in the lead-up to visit bringing the year's tally to about 800, double the number killed in 1999.

January 19, 2001-- The seven-month ceasefire is extended for another month, following all-party talks in Switzerland.

March 2001 -- Dozens of angry soldiers raze 15 shops, two houses and a village council office after searching for insurgents. Amnesty International says pro-Jakarta forces are using intimidation tactics to chase human rights activists out of the province so they can attack separatist rebels.

May 12, 2001 -- A Memorandum of Understanding is signed by Indonesian and Free Aceh Movement leaders implementing a continued ceasefire, with a view to kick-starting the peace process.

August 2001 -- Indonesia's new leader, Megawati Sukarnoputri, apologizes to the provinces of Aceh for decades of human rights abuses and promises to restore order in the region.

August 2001 -- Security forces announce the discovery of a mass grave containing 48 bodies near Lhong village in the west of the province.

September 2001 -- President Megawati visits Aceh, but the talks end fruitlessly.

January 2002 -- The military commander of GAM is shot dead during a raid on his jungle base.

July 2002 -- Indonesian Military Commander Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu says the military and police in Aceh will take tough action against members of GAM, branding the separatists as "terrorists."

July 2002 -- Chief Security Minister Bambang Yudhoyono says the government will investigate suggestions that the region's Geneva-based peace talks negotiator, the Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, is taking the side of separatists.

August 2002 -- The government issues a 3-month peace deadline to GAM, which is later extended for a further month.

November 2002 -- Security forces encircle the Paya Cot Trieng village, north Aceh, with 500 to 1,000 troops in an attempt to force them to sign a peace agreement. The troops fire mortars and rockets from helicopters at the area.

December 2002 -- Peace agreement between GAM and government initially reduces violence, but encounters increasing problems.

January 2002 -- Jakarta grants Aceh special autonomy -- including the implementation of Islamic shariah law and greater revenue-sharing of its natural resources -- in an attempt to ease separatist tensions.

May 19, 2003 -- Indonesia begins military action after peace talks in Tokyo between Indonesian officials and rebels collapse, apparently because rebels would not give up their demand for outright independence.


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