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Don't Cry For Me Aceh 

When I was a small boy, my granny used to tell me stories about Prang Aceh and then she sang me an Acehnese song about those wars. She used it as a lullaby. All Acehnese boys used to be exposed to that kind of legend that Aceh has never been occupied by aliens. As a boy, I was so proud to be born as an Acehnese, because we are one of the best nation in Indonesia, and we are the one who produce a lot of heroes and heroines compared to others. We were also the first group to pronounce our loyalty to the Indonesian government when the others tried to make a separate country. Additionally, we were the one who made Garuda Indonesia as it is now. We were the only area which cannot be colonized without the lost of a lot of enemy soldiers. We are indeed a very Brave nation, and I am very proud of it. 

However, those proud feelings seem to be shattered by a number of abuses made by 'other' Indonesians, who are supposed to be the Acehnese brothers. They consider Aceh as a stubborn place which should be crashed by Kalashnikov and M-16, they never consider Aceh people as very kind and humble people. They never consider Acehnese as human, anyway. Acehnese are very humble and polite nation, especially to those people who come to their land. Aliens are welcome to Aceh in a condition that they are supposed to respect the Acehnese culture and religion, because we are all very good Muslims and perform all religious matters accordingly. We are very kind to our brothers and sisters but very strict to our enemies.

The misunderstanding between Aceh and Indonesian government rooted back to the misinterpretation of Acehnese culture. Most of Indonesian government policies NEVER consider Acehnese culture and religious matters. They NEVER understand Acehnese people, I think this is the main problem of policy makers in Jakarta. 

Therefore, I sincerely ask the New government to quickly solve Aceh disaster and fulfill all promises given by the policy makers before it is too late. Even now it seems everything is very very late indeed. We have to learn from history, how come that Snouck Hurgronje can be accepted by Acehnese people without any hesitation, because Snouck knew very well how to treat Acehnese. How come that our own 'blood' couldn't understand their own brother. This is a terrible mistake. 

I am afraid that those Prang Aceh legend will be sung again in all houses in Aceh. If it does then we should say Don't cry for me Aceh, and history will show that the Acehnese bravery couldn't be broken in anyway, as they used to say: daripada genting bah patah, daripada singet bah rebah (Rather than brittle let be broken, rather than tilted let be fell down). I think that is when the disaster comes.

Dr. Ary (Agam) Syahriar


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Last modified: June 22, 2000