Friday, February 04, 2005

Crisis in Aceh ~ After Peace Talks

A selection of coverages for "Crisis in Aceh" series that focus on peace talks and military. Again, we see conflicting messages about "security measures" in Aceh. Also, US engagement to renew military ties with Indonesia... for the sake of US geopolitical 'hegemony'? Pro and con views. In chronological order, when necessary, and the highlights are mine.


BBC Monitoring Service
January 28, 2005
Source: Detikcom web site,
Jakarta, in Indonesian 28 Jan 05

East Timor "promised to lobby" US over Indonesian military embargo
Text of report by Astrid Felicia Lim, carried by Indonesian Detikcom web site on 28 January

Jakarta: The Timor Leste [East Timor] government has promised to lobby the US government in its congress, in February 2005 about withdrawing the embargo on Indonesian military requirements.

The president of Timor Leste, Xanana Gusmao, conveyed the matter after meeting the Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR), Agung Laksono and the Speaker of the Regional Representatives' Council (DPD), Ginandjar Kartasasmita at the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR)/DPR building, Jalan Gatot Soebroto, Jakarta on Friday (28 January 2005).

"Timor Leste's Foreign Minister, Ramos Horta said earlier in our meeting that he will lobby the US in congress in February about the embargo and restrictions concerning military equipment supplies to Indonesia," said Xanana.

According to Xanana, this is a continuation of Timor Leste's efforts that were carried out during the Association of South East Asian Nations [ASEAN] Tsunami Summit meeting (KTT) in Jakarta not long ago.

The speaker of the DPR, Agung Laksono expressed thanks for the Timor Leste government's initiative. "They initiated it themselves after seeing the situation in Aceh. There are a lot of military needs that Indonesia cannot fulfil because, among other things, their planes need to be fixed and there are no spare parts," he said.

Agung also discussed in the meeting plans to increase cooperation between the [countries'] parliaments. "As my parliament conveyed, future relations between the two countries should not only be in the area of the executive but also in the legislative. Earlier, it was also stressed that the two countries may no longer live in the shadows of the past," said Agung.

Xanana expressed his intention to visit Indonesia's parliament as a continuation of the exchange programme, where previously members of Indonesia's DPR visited Dili.

Xanana also said that he visited Indonesia to express the Timorese community's solidarity and sympathy regarding the Aceh and Northern Sumatera disaster.

"Yesterday, we gave a contribution to President Susilo as a sign of solidarity, the money collected by the general public, including school children, small children and kiosks was only small. But we gave from our hearts and out of a feeling of sorrow," he said.


Bond Urges Colleagues to Ease Sanctions Against Indonesia Stronger U.S.-Indonesia Relations to Bolster U.S. War on Terror

Contact: Rob Ostrander 202.224.7627 Shana Stribling 202.224.0309

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Washington, DC B U.S. Senator Kit Bond today urged his colleagues to ease sanctions against Indonesia, calling the country a potential strong ally in the war against terror. Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Bond detailed his eight-day tour of tsunami-devastated Southeast Asia, where he hailed the work of U.S. military and relief agencies and vowed to push for greater cooperation between the U.S. and Indonesia in the future.

“The operations in Indonesia brought into stark reality the unintended consequences of Congressional restrictions placed on our assistance to Indonesia to deal with human rights abuses by the Indonesia military during the times of authoritarian rule in that country through the aftermath of the East Timor referendum,” said Senator Bond. “I have opposed continuation of these sanctions since Indonesia has chosen new leaders democratically, most recently this past fall's election of President Yudhoyono, and the new leadership has made a strong commitment to reform, to the recognition of human rights, and to fighting corruption.”

Current U.S. policy prohibits Indonesian participation in the International Military and Education Training (IMET) program run by our military for our own officers and forces from friendly nations. Bond stressed that IMET provides training in modern military operations, including adherence to the Code of Military Justice, civilian control of the military, respect for human rights, and proper treatment of civilian populations – precisely the principles that should be instilled in military forces thought to have been involved in human rights abuses in the past.

Major benefits of the program also include establishing relationships among our military leaders and commanders of friendly foreign forces to assure they understand how to conduct military or relief operations together. In addition, foreign officers learn English language skills so our allied officers can communicate. This lack of training almost resulted in a tragic mid-air collision of U.S. aircraft with an Indonesian military operation.

Also, as a result of this policy Indonesia was denied the ability to purchase necessary spare parts for its C-130 fleet, leaving Indonesia’s fleet of twenty-four planes largely inoperable, slowing the arrival of relief and aid to Tsunami victims.

In addition to a helicopter fly-over of the tsunami devastation, Bond met with newly-elected Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss relief efforts and the possibility of closer ties between the predominantly Muslim country and the United States. Bond emphasized that the United States should use this opportunity to foster stronger ties with Indonesia. Greater cooperation between the two countries will support President Yudhoyono's efforts to improve the economy, end corruption and human rights abuses and foster greater cooperation in the war against terror.

“The tragedy of the tsunami has brought an unparalleled opportunity to invite more Americans to pay attention to an area of the world where we have vital interests. I hope that when the tsunami relief efforts have passed, our friends and neighbors will keep in mind the need to strengthen our relationships in a very critical area of the world,” said Senator Bond.



February 1, 2005

MR. LEAHY. Mr. President, last week I listened to the comments of my friend, the senior Senator from Missouri, regarding the devastating impact of the tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia, which caused so much loss of life and destruction of property. Senator Bond paid tribute to the contributions of American relief agencies that have done so much to alleviate the suffering there, and I want to echo those comments.

He also expressed concern about what he called "unintended consequences" of restrictions on our assistance to the Indonesian military, otherwise known as the TNI. Specifically, he referred to the International Military Education and Training Program, and spare parts for C-130 aircraft.

I want to respond to that portion of Senator Bond's remarks, to be sure there is no misunderstanding about what our law says.

To begin with, I want to disabuse those who might be misled by some Indonesian officials who often mistakenly refer to a U.S. military "embargo" against Indonesia. I ask unanimous consent that a Defense Department document from our Embassy in Jakarta, which describes the many programs and other contacts we currently have with the TNI, be printed in the Record at the end of my remarks.

The fact is that the TNI participates in training programs under both the expanded International Military Education and Training (E-IMET) program and the Counter-terrorism Fellowship program (CTFP). This is the largest CTFP program currently underway anywhere in the world. Millions of dollars have been appropriated for these programs in recent years, including for the types of defense management, military justice, civil military relations, and other courses that the Senator from Missouri and I support. The TNI is participating in the E-IMET program which Congress has funded at the level requested by the Bush Administration.

Our law also does not prevent military exercises and other contacts with the U.S. military through officer visits, educational exchanges, and port visits. Perhaps the most visible evidence of this is the U.S. military working side by side with the TNI during the ongoing humanitarian relief operations in Aceh.

With respect to training, U.S. law restricts only the full restoration of regular IMET assistance until the Indonesian Government and the TNI "are cooperating" with the FBI's investigation into the August 31, 2002, murders of two American citizens and one Indonesian citizen. By "cooperating" we obviously mean not simply cooperating in limited ways, but fully cooperating. I am concerned with reports that the TNI may have conspired with the shooters in that case, and that the one Papuan individual who has been indicted, who is not a member of the TNI, remains at large even though his whereabouts are reportedly known to theTNI.

With respect to equipment, our law does not restrict the sale of non-lethal equipment to the TNI. Specifically, with regard to spare parts for the C-130's, there has been no change in U.S. law, although I am told that there may have been a relaxation of this Administration's policy. Our law does not and never has prevented the sale of spare parts for these aircraft for humanitarian purposes. Over four years ago, when the TNI first requested to purchase C-130 spare parts for "search and rescue" missions, the U.S. Ambassador and I, as well as, I am told, the Secretary of Defense, informed the Indonesians that this was not prohibited by either U.S. law or policy and that they could purchase these parts from us. For reasons the Pentagon is aware of, the TNI decided to obtain them elsewhere.

The only conditions on the sale of lethal equipment are that the Indonesian Government is prosecuting and punishing members of the TNI for gross violations of human rights, and that the TNI is (1) taking steps to counter international terrorism consistent with democratic principles and the rule of law; (2) cooperating with civilian judicial authorities and with international efforts to resolve cases of gross violations of human rights; and (3) implementing financial reforms to deter corruption.

There are good reasons for these limited conditions. The United States has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in training and equipment to the Indonesian military since the 1950's. Despite the close relationship that developed between the U.S. military and the TNI over four decades, the TNI acquired a reputation for being notoriously abusive and corrupt. After the TNI murdered some two hundred civilians in a cemetery in Dili, East Timor in 1992, our IMET assistance was cut off. Our relations with the TNI were further curtailed in 1999, after the independence referendum in East Timor when the TNI orchestrated widespread killings and the destruction of property. Although senior TNI officers have repeatedly vowed to support reform, they have done next to nothing to hold their members accountable for these heinous crimes. Instead, the TNI has consistently obstructed justice.

I should note that these conditions do not apply to the Indonesian Navy. Congress specifically exempted the Navy because enhancing maritime security is a critical priority.

There are also credible reports that, after 9/11, the TNI provided support to radical Indonesian groups that have been involved in terrorism.

Since 1999, restrictions on our relations with the TNI have been narrowed, and today, as I mentioned, we have a wide range ofmilitary-to-military activities.

I am disappointed that some Pentagon officials and my friend from Missouri, rather than acknowledging the extent of the U.S.-Indonesia military relationship and urging the TNI to demonstrate that it is serious about reform by meeting these reasonable conditions, have expressed support for weakening our law.

Indonesia's new President Yudhoyono is a career military officer. He has a reputation as a reformer, and I wish him well. I have always supported substantial economic assistance to Indonesia, in fact, Senator McConnell, the Chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and I have worked to increase this assistance.

Prior to President Yudhoyono's election there were some important reforms which reduced the TNI's influence in politics. But a key gap remains regarding justice for the victims of atrocities, including crimes against humanity. This is the focus of our law, and it is as important to Indonesia and the TNI as it is for the United States. I believe that President Yudhoyono should agree and want the TNI to make these necessary reforms.

I applaud the U.S. military and the TNI for working together to bring aid to tsunami victims in Aceh. But just as our policy should promote cooperation in humanitarian operations and in counter-terrorism, so should it promote respect for human rights, accountability, and the rule of law. These are fundamental to the freedom and democracy that President Bush spoke of in his Inaugural Address. Our law, which was narrowly written to provide an incentive for reform while allowing military contacts to continue, strikes the right balance.

I yield the floor.


Received from Joyo Indonesia News
[Note: This contains quotes from the recently sent: Senators Leahy and Bond on US-Indonesia Military Ties]

Fight Looms in Congress Over Easing Indonesian Military Restrictions
By Ken Guggenheim, AP

Washington, Feb. 2 (AP) - The Congress is gearing up for a fight about whether to ease restrictions on military ties with Indonesia.

Last week, Republican Sen. Kit Bond, speaking on the Senate floor, praised Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as a reformer and urged improved military ties between the two countries.

On Tuesday, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., responded that the restrictions were reasonable and should not be lifted until Indonesia has proved its commitment to human rights.

While democratic changes have reduced the Indonesian military's influence in politics, "a key gap remains regarding justice for the victims of atrocities, including crimes against humanity," Leahy said on the Senate floor.

Officials of the Bush administration have suggested that the restrictions be reconsidered.

In a visit to Indonesia last month, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the United States needs to consider how it can strengthen Indonesia's democracy. He said closer contact with the U.S. military would strengthen the Indonesian military's commitment to human rights.

Alan Larson, the undersecretary of state for economic affairs, said at a congressional hearing last week that the Indonesian military could have responded better to December's tsunami "if they had had more operational experience in working with the United States, stronger English capabilities, and if they had had more capable equipment."

Congress severed military aid to Indonesia in 1999 when Indonesian soldiers were blamed for widespread killing and destruction of property in the separatist East Timor region. Congress later prohibited resumed military ties until the U.S. government has determined that Indonesia is cooperating fully with an FBI investigation of the Aug. 31, 2002, killings of two American teachers in Papua province.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that aides to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are recommending she report to Congress that Indonesia is cooperating.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday no decision has been made. "It's a situation, though, that is under review, and we have been looking at it," Boucher said.

In his Senate speech, Bond said Yudhoyono has made "a strong commitment to reform, to a recognition of human rights and to fighting corruption."

Bond said the restrictions have hurt Indonesia's ability to relieve suffering in the aftermath of the tsunami. He said Indonesia could not buy spare parts for C-130 transport planes, and the U.S. military had difficulty communicating with its Indonesian counterparts because they speak English so poorly.

"If our forces are to participate in military or relief operations with those of friendly nations, we must train together," Bond said.

Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid spending, said the restrictions do not prevent the Indonesian military from participating in some training programs and military exercise. He said the United States allowed Indonesia to buy C-130 spare parts for humanitarian purposes.

"Our law, which was narrowly written to provide an incentive for reform while allowing military contacts to continue, strikes the right balance," Leahy said.


US Government: Dept of Defence programs for Indonesia

From Congressional Record. (Senate - February 01, 2005) Page: S734-5

Leahy: I ask unanimous consent that a Defense Department document from our Embassy in Jakarta, which describes the many programs and other contacts we currently have with the TNI, be printed in the RECORD at the end of my remarks.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Exhibit 1

(Allocated FY 04 $599,000; Requested for FY 05 $600,000.)

The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program continues to be restricted for Indonesia. However, training is allowed with IMET funding for Expanded-IMET (E-IMET) courses for both military and civilians.

E-IMET courses have included a wide-range of programs, including seminars, in-country Mobile Education Teams, and Masters Programs at Naval Postgraduate School. Topics have included defense management, national security affairs, defense restructuring, civ-mil relations, resource management, military law, peacekeeping operations, and other important topics.

Largest CTFP Program in the world. (Allocated FY B04 $500,000; Supplemental $386,826; FY B05 Allocation $600,000.) (Allocated B02 "No Year'' funds in 2002: $3.7 million; Current Remaining $702,000.)

Note this Remaining B02 money is Programmed through FY 05 and FY 06.

In the FY02 Defense Appropriations Act, the Regional Defense Counter-Terrorism Fellowship Program was established under section 8125.

Both civilian and military officers participate in a wide variety of courses and seminars under this program designed to improve the professionalism and management skills of TNI. CTFP training programs include intelligence cooperation, national level decision-making, civil-mil cooperation in combating terrorism, and maritime security, as well as Indonesian attendance at US Staff Colleges, War Colleges, National Defense University, and English language training and materials.

(Funding provided from various sources per event.)

Indonesian is an active participant in U.S. Pacific Command TSCP activities, to include regional workshops and seminars promoting cooperation on security issues, Counter-Terrorism seminars and workshops, peacekeeping workshops, and Subject Matter Expert Exchanges.

Activities are limited to non-lethal, non-combat related events.

In close cooperation with both the ODC and the Defense Attache Office, PACOM has developed a more robust TSCP program over the next two years in order to broaden our engagement with TNI and other agencies within GOI.

Indonesian participation has increased from Zero events in FY 00 to more than 85-events in FY 04, and more than 132 programmed in FY 05.

Foreign Military Sales (FMS): Remain frozen by USG policy. There remain 38 active cases with an FMS balance of $ 3.5 mil.

Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and other grant programs, such as eligibility for Excess Defense Articles (EDA), remain restricted by legislation.

($11.3 mil requested for FY 06; $6 million recommended by interagency for FY 06; focus is maritime security and C-130 parts.)

Direct Commercial Sales (DCS): USG policy has established "carve-outs'' for specific categories of defense hardware, such as C-130 spare parts, non-lethal equipment, and "safety of use'' items for lethal end items (an example would be CAD/PADs, propellant cartridges for ejection seats on fighter aircraft). ($928,709 released by DSCA from FMS funds 04 Jan 05 for Tsunami relief/repair of C-130s.)

Relayed by M. Miller (Internet: ~ Media & Outreach Coordinator of ETAN in NY


Indonesia to Continue Aceh Military Operations, Minister Says

Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Indonesia will continue military operations in tsunami-hit Aceh, where it has been fighting rebels since 1976, after inconclusive talks with their leaders in Finland during the weekend, a minister said yesterday.

Government and Free Aceh Movement officials met in Helsinki for two days till Saturday to discuss a cease-fire during relief operations in Aceh, the worst hit area in the Dec. 26 disaster, which left more than 280,000 dead or missing in 12 countries.

The government welcomes more talks with the rebels providing the next meeting has a clearer agenda that both sides agree on so that ''there is a better prospect for a resolution,'' Security Minister Widodo Adisucipto told reporters in Jakarta after coming back from the meeting in Finland.

The discussions on Jan. 28 and Jan. 29 between the Indonesian government and separatist leaders living in exile in Sweden were led by the Crisis Management Initiative, a mediation group headed by Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president. In its Web site Ahtisaari invited the parties to further discussions.

The meeting was the first since a 2002 truce broke down in April 2003 and the Indonesian government started a military offensive in Aceh the following month.

The Indonesian government should allow for a independence referendum in the area in the next five to 10 years, the Associated Press reported yesterday, citing a rebel commander in Aceh. The rebels are willing to put their demand for secession on hold if Indonesia accepts the plan, the report cited Teungku Adam as saying.

Giving Autonomy
The government will only go as far as giving ''special'' autonomy to the province, Adisucipto said yesterday without making any specific reference to the rebel's demand.

The Free Aceh Movement has been fighting for a separate state for almost three decades in the province. The rebels called for cease-fire talks on Jan. 23 to allow the relief operation to aid the more than 600,000 people estimated to have been displaced in Aceh and other areas of northern Sumatra.

More than 230,000 people are dead or missing in Indonesia.

Aceh, which has strategic importance as the gateway to the Strait of Malacca, is rich in natural gas, oil and timber. The strait is one of the busiest sea lanes in the world, with 40 percent of global trade passing through the waterway.

At the meeting, both sides also reviewed post-tsunami reconstruction efforts, the group said on its Web site without providing details.


Tempo ~ Feb 01- 07, 2005

The Road(s) to Helsinki

A dialog with GAM has been held in Helsinki, Finland. The government has sought many ways to open talks-including the promise of concessions of oil palm plantations and aircraft.

The two delegations met when the thermometer fell to 12 degrees below zero. Swathed in Helsinki's fog, their meeting proceeded in absolute secrecy. No one was willing to disclose the meeting-neither the delegation of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), nor the government of the Republic of Indonesia.

The Indonesian team of 10 included three top officials as negotiators: Minister of Justice & Human Rights Hamid Awaluddin, Minister for Information & Communication Sofyan Djalil, and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal & Security Affairs, Widodo A.S.

GAM's was led by its Prime Minister, Malik Mahmud, who came from Sweden, the country where these rebel leaders have been residing all this time. Accompanying him were GAM Foreign Minister Zaini Abdullah and spokesperson Bakhtiar Abdullah. Two other leading figures in the movement, M. Nur Djuli (GAM Malaysia) and Nurdin Abdul Rahman (GAM Australia) were also present.

The two delegations landed at Helsinki Airport on the same day, last Thursday, although not at the same time. There they were met by special officials from the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), the independent body headed by former Finland president, Martti Ahtisaari.

This was the first "official" dialog of GAM leaders with Indonesia, after they had negotiated from 1999-2002 without any resolution. GAM wants independence for Aceh, RI rejects that and will only give the region the option of special autonomy. Two years ago, the door to further negotiation was locked tight by the military operations in Aceh.

Elected as president last October, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on GAM to reconcile. "Indonesia has made a number of offers to GAM leaders in Aceh to end the conflict peacefully," Yudhoyono said at the State Palace, the day before the negotiations began.

He is hopeful GAM will return to being part of the unitary republic through the adoption of special autonomy for Aceh. Although the Helsinki meeting is an informal one, said Yudhoyono, it does still, "come at just the right time." At very least, they can all unite to rebuild Aceh after it was almost wiped out by the tsunami a month ago.

Arriving separately, both delegations slipped in to one of the buildings at Koenigstedt Manor, 60 kilometers north of Helsinki. The organizing committee in Helsinki had prepared a special, top secret, location.

In this hidden house, the delegations from both sides first met with the mediator of the dialog, Martti Ahtisaari. Separate meetings were held with each side before both eventually sat down around one table. CMI spokesperson, Maria-Elena Cowell, said the discussions between the two sides had begun in a positive spirit. "The talks continued throughout the day," she said.

As of Saturday, the two delegations were still involved in serious discussion. Cowell said the talk that day still concerned the disaster that has caused a humanitarian crisis in Aceh. More than that, she refused to say.

A day before he left for Finland, one of the GAM delegation, M. Nur Djuli, said his side was ready for a ceasefire. This dialog, he said, would ensure both sides did not attack one another while the humanitarian assistance was flowing to the tsunami victims. "After we agree on that, we are ready to discuss other matters," he said.

He added it would be impossible to finalize all the issues in the Aceh conflict in only two days. The dispute itself has been going on for almost 30 years. Most important, he said, is to reach agreement on a ceasefire. Djuli is worried the distribution of aid could become chaotic because both sides are still shooting at each other. "The Indonesian armed forces and GAM must show compassion for the common people."

Especially considering that many from the international community now want to help Aceh. Peace in Aceh, he said, is not just what the Indonesian government and GAM want, but what the world community does also. However was there any possibility of discussions extending beyond the issue of the ceasefire? Djuli did not want to comment. But, he did give one interesting signal: "We do need a solution that will protect the self-respect of both sides."

Nevertheless, as of Saturday, any such solutions offered by both teams had not been made public. In Helsinki, GAM Prime Minister Malik Mahmud would only tell reporters he was happy with the negotiations. "I cannot reveal what was said. But I am now very happy."

In fact this was not a spontaneous meeting. A number of sources Tempo contacted pointed to Vice President Jusuf Kalla as the man who had initiated the road to the Helsinki dialog. Getting a mandate from President Yudhoyono, Kalla then nominated Hamid Awaluddin, Sofyan Djalil, plus Army Staff & Command School commandant, and former commandant of Military District 012/Teuku Umar, Maj. Gen. Syarifuddin Tippe to do the legwork.

A leading figure in the Aceh student movement, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that Kalla had instigated the move when he was still Coordinating Minister for Public Welfare in President Megawati's cabinet.

Kalla, who had been given a mandate from Megawati, had then asked Hamid Awaluddin (then still a member of the General Elections Commission) to lobby GAM leaders in Holland and Denmark. "There was one proposal to ask the UK and Japan to mediate, continuing the failed peace process of two years earlier," said the student, who had accompanied Hamid to Holland in October 2003. But that process had been stopped after a cabinet meeting considered that a military operation would still be effective in dampening down the Aceh rebellion. After that, the door to dialog seemed to be locked tight.

Another chance came with SBY and Kalla's ascendancy to the top echelon of power. Kalla once again asked Minister Hamid to continue the dialog that had been neglected. A Tempo source within the vice president's office said that this effort had been ongoing ever since SBY and Kalla had officially taken office as president and vice president last October. The whole process was extremely confidential.

Hamid Awaluddin himself has never wanted to comment on his work in this. "Ask the vice president," he said.

Clearer information can actually be found in Aceh. A convicted GAM member now in Keudah Prison, Banda Aceh, told a very interesting tale. He said that while in prison he had almost every day met GAM negotiator Sofyan Ibrahim Tiba, who had been sentenced to serve 15 years there.

Sofyan was then rather unwell. He did not manage to flee when the tsunami came, so his life ended when the giant wave had destroyed the prison. "I often nursed him in prison," said the GAM member inmate. He survived and asked for his name not to be revealed.

Three weeks before the tsunami slammed into Banda Aceh, said the man, Sofyan had visitors. They claimed to be a team from Jakarta. There were three people, including Aceh-born businessman Rusli Bintang and two men who claimed to be GAM members from Malaysia, named M. Daud Syah and Harun Yusuf. Curious about the purpose of their visit, that afternoon some of the other GAM prisoners in the prison quizzed Sofyan.

"They want the question of Aceh to be resolved domestically," said the source, quoting Sofyan's answer. What he meant was that it was not necessary to travel far overseas to hold dialogs, if agreement could be struck within Indonesia. At the meeting, Rusli had put forward his "welfare mission" for those GAM members who gave themselves up. Every guerilla who came down from the hills without a weapon was promised 3 hectares of fully-grown palm oil trees, ready to harvest. In turn, those who brought in a weapon would get 5 hectares.

Sofyan did not say he accepted or rejected the offer. As the source said, he politely evaded the issue. "I am a negotiator, not GAM. Political policy is only within the power of the GAM leaders in Sweden. Please just contact them," he added. Sofyan then countered by asking whether his visitors had GAM's official mandate to represent it. His concern was that he felt he was stillits legitimate negotiator. As a result, Rusli's team returned home empty-handed.

The prisoner source said that Rusli, Harun, and Daud were representing Minister Hamid. Their visit had been discussed by Jusuf Kalla's team. Apart from Hamid, Syarifuddin Tippe, and Sofyan Djalil, non-active Aceh Governor Abdullah Puteh was reportedly also involved. Puteh is still sitting in Salemba Prison, Central Jakarta, after being caught up in a corruption case that is being investigated by the Corruption Eradication Commission. Although that is the case, he is apparently often asked to help in facilitating dialogs with GAM in the field.

So, who are Harun and Daud? According to one GAM member now living in Malaysia, Harun usually goes by the name of Harun Kancil. His real name is Harun Yusuf. "Kancil," or mouse deer, is the Aceh-born jamu (tonic made of medicinal herbs) dealer's nickname in Malaysia. He is known to be close to GAM in North Aceh. In turn, Daud is M. Daud Syah. The middle-aged man is known to be a senior GAM member in Malaysia. "He is one of our respected figures," said our source.

Harun, Daud, and the government representatives had previously also struck a deal that has even been put down on paper.

Tempo has managed to read that document, thanks to another source in North Aceh. Nine points are written down on the paper that was signed in Kuala Lumpur. Dated October 31, 2004, the memorandum of understanding is entitled "Points of Agreement between Negotiators for the Government and GAM." At the bottom it has the signatures of Hamid Awaluddin, Sofyan Djalil, Syarifuddin Tippe, Abdullah Puteh, Rusli Bintang, M. Daud Syah, and Harun Yusuf.

Its nine points contain economic concessions. "After discussing the proposal and counter-proposal from GAM and the government," reads its opening sentence, "we have arrived at a common understanding to resolve the Aceh conflict." Point one is largely about political issues, emphasizing that all the legislation on special autonomy for Aceh must be applied consistently. Almost all the second point and the rest is about economic issues.

For instance, there is agreement that in the handover of PTP-I (PT Perkebunan I) with all its assets to the Regional Government of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, this will be designated for GAM members or followers, as one of the conditions for the resolution of the Aceh conflict. From Tempo's notes, PTP-I is a palm oil plantation covering part of North and East Aceh. Most of it has been abandoned because of the armed conflict.

Then there is the agreement for the handover of two Boeing 737-300 aircraft to the Aceh Government, plus ten 15-seater aircraft on the condition they must have been manufactured overseas. Another addition is the extension of the Iskandar Muda Airport.

Elsewhere, it is agreed to develop other palm oil plantations for up to a maximum of 150 pesantren or Islamic boarding schools. Each one will get around 100 hectares of plantings. The only restriction is that they will only be given to those schools with at least 1,000 pupils. Apart from that, the government will build the Peusangan hydroelectric power plant, which will then bedonated to the Aceh Government. The plan is for every mosque, community religious center (meunasah), and pesantren in Aceh to get free electricity.

Further, there is agreement that GAM must hand over at least 900 weapons, and that handover will then be followed by granting a general amnesty to GAM members, including all those imprisoned or sentenced because of being connected with the Free Aceh Movement.

GAM's representative in Malaysia, Nur Djuli denied this understanding was an official contract. He claimed that Harun has never been given a mandate from GAM leaders in Sweden. That is why he considers all the points of agreement "have nothing to do with GAM."

Possibly because they had failed to contact the movement's center, the government sent out another team. Four leading figures from Aceh left for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia last November. This was the team that managed to meet several of the GAM leaders under Hasan Tiro's line of command. The Kuala Lumpur GAM head they met was none other than M. Nur Djuli, who was later one of the GAM delegates at the Helsinki meeting.

One of the team members who took part said the talks with Nur Djuli were quite tough. Only on the fourth day was the team successful in convincing the Kuala Lumpur GAM leaders to return to dialog. He said it was not easy to persuade GAM to be willing to return to the negotiating table. "We reminded them of the fate of the people of Aceh who are by now fed up with armed conflict," said the team member, who wants to remain anonymous.

Apart from that, GAM also put up other conditions. They are willing to negotiate if this is facilitated by a third party. "That was the condition we put forward to Jusuf Kalla," he said. He was completely in the dark about any further developments. Last week, the source got word that negotiations were apparently to be held in Finland. So, what about the economic concessions? Those talks vanished, because Nur Djuli considered the economic agreements were invalid. He has thrown it back to the GAM leaders in Sweden.

Jakarta is apparently adopting a multi-layered strategy in confronting GAM. Apart from delegating people to meet Sofyan in prison and holding meetings in Malaysia, the vice president's office is also using the family approach.

A relative of GAM forces commander, Muzakir Manaf, said Vice President Jusuf Kalla had summoned Aswin Manaf, Muzakir's elder brother, to his official residence on Jalan Diponegoro, Jakarta. "It was hoped Aswin could persuade Muzakir," said the source. Aswin, who lives in Seunuddon, North Aceh, reportedly already left for Jakarta last Wednesday.

The meeting was so cordial that, according to one source, at the end of it both sides had their photos taken together. Jusuf Kalla, as with the other team members, did not wish to comment. In an interview with Tempo, he would only confirm that the government is attempting to hold dialogs with GAM.

The government is following several paths towards peace. Negotiating in Helsinki, giving away concessions in Jakarta.

Nezar Patria, Yuswardi A. Suud (Lhok Seumawe), Nurlis E. Meuko (Jakarta)


Tempo ~ Feb 01-07, 2005

No to War

Talks between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement are underway in Helsinki. A beginning that will need much resilience.

The promise of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's government to end the conflict in Aceh seems to be more than just campaign rhetoric. After the hard work of the past 100 days, peace talks with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) started in Helsinki, Finland last week. The negotiating team this time is made up of people different from the team that failed during the previous administration. The body acting as mediator has also changed. Crisis Management Initiative, a non-profit organization for peace led by Martti Ahtisaari will replace the Swiss-based Henri Dunant Center, which facilitated the negotiations that previously ended in deadlock.

This deadlock is now about to be broken. The change of government in Indonesia and GAM's weaker military position have reopened the door to negotiations. Furthermore, the disastrous tsunami that struck Aceh seems to have opened the door even further. The solidarity of the Indonesian people and the sympathy of the international community flooding into Aceh made the search for a solution to the conflict in Aceh a global initiative.

Perhaps this is why President Yudhoyono's initial intention to limit negotiations to parties living in Indonesia was ultimately changed. The focus of concern and global sympathy on Aceh following the tsunami catastrophe turned the diplomatic peace offensive to a strategic certainty. If nothing had been done, GAM's propaganda to portray themselves as the oppressed and as victims of human rights abuses would have easily attracted world sympathy.

The presence of Justice & Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin as a member of the delegation, intentionally or not, has made it easier for Jakarta to head off attempts at painting Jakarta in a negative light. This time the Indonesian government is led by a president directly elected by an acknowledged democratic process. This is a major advantage in international fora, which generally subscribe to conviction that "two democratic states are unlikely to wage war against each other," attributed to US president Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) who helped set up the League of Nations.

The people of Indonesia are now part of the global democratic community. We are not likely to go to war with other democracies. So now it is up to GAM to prove whether it has democratic aspirations or not. And we will see, after this test, whether GAM truly seeks a peaceful way to end its dispute with another party.

Senior GAM officials need to look at examples on how democratic nations managed to resolve problems with rebellious groups in their countries. The peaceful resolutions of disputes in the Azores and Madeiras in Portugal, Puerto Rico in the United States, the Basque region and Catalonia in Spain and Canada's Quebec could serve as a guide. Special autonomy is usually a major part of the compromise accepted by both sides, except for small armed groups who are now viewed around the world as nothing more than part of the internationally-condemned global terror movement.

If this happens, the hope for peace in Aceh will become a real part of efforts to rebuild the region devastated by the tsunami. Although the experience of other nations shows us that peace talks need plenty of time and that it occasionally causes irritation, the final result is balanced. This is why Yudhoyono's government needs to be resilient in this praiseworthy effort.


Tempo ~ Feb 01-07, 2005

Crisis Management Initiative: HDC Out, CMI In

The government opens talks with GAM and asks CMI from Finland to mediate. What are CMI's achievements?

The Indonesian government has been negotiating again with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to find a peaceful solution to Aceh's armed uprising. This negotiation, started last week, was no longer held in Geneva, Switzerland and neither did it involve the Henry Dunant Center (HDC) as the previous mediator.

The government and GAM have agreed to choose the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), led by former Finland president, Martti Ahtisaari, as their mediator. Therefore, the negotiation is being conducted in Finland's capital, Helsinki. Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, former Indonesia negotiator, said that CMI was not far different from other NGOs set up by former presidents like the Carter Center in the United States or the Habibie Center in Jakarta. "I don't know how influential this former president of Finland is-I have just heard the name of CMI," said Wiryono.

In its website, CMI claims to be an NGO set up to monitor security affairs. Unfortunately, not much information about this organization can be found there. Rinki Neva, the institute's director, said the Indonesian government and GAM had both requested Ahtisaari to act as their mediator and it was agreed. "CMI is ready to get involved in the preparation for the reopening of a dialog between the Indonesian government and GAM," said Rinki Neva in the CMI website.

Who is Martti Ahtisaari? A 67-year-old diplomat, he once played a key role in efforts to find a solution to various conflicts flaring up in different parts of the world, from Africa to the Balkans, and even to Northern Ireland. In 1999 he was appointed envoy of the European Union to convince Slobodan Milosevic, then Yugoslavian president, to accept terms for the cessation of the aerial bombing campaigns against Kosovo. This job led him to be nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Before taking up the job as the European Union's envoy for Kosovo, Ahtisaari was known in the international arena as a United Nations official who oversaw the transition period towards Namibia's independence in 1977-1981. He was also an independent weapons inspector in the peace process in Northern Ireland. Ahtisaari was president of Finland between 1994-2000. After completing his tenure as president, he set up the Crisis Management Initiative.

In the Iraq crisis, Ahtisaari, with a UN mandate, carried out an investigation into security matters following an August 2003 car-bombing incident in Iraq that destroyed the UN headquarters in Baghdad. Thanks to his report, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan lobbied the General Assembly to disburse about US$100 million and 778 new accounts for the Security Council.

Why, then, have President Yudhoyono and GAM opted for CMI? Wiryono believed it is not because CMI is better but rather because HDC is considered unsuccessful as a mediator. In the Indonesian government's eyes, this institute lacks credibility. "Perhaps they are not considered professional enough because the negotiation has failed," Wiryono said.

The HDC was chosen as mediator during the period when Abdurrahman Wahid was president for the initial negotiation held around May 2000. In fact, this institute's achievement is not entirely bad. With its mediation, the government and GAM agreed to sign the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) on December 9, 2002. This agreement led to the establishment of the Joint Security Committee (JSC) with membership comprised of representatives from the Indonesian government, GAM and HDC.

In May 2003, Secretary of the Coordinating Minister for Political & Security Afafirs, Sudi Silalahi (now the Cabinet Secretary), questioned the capability of HDC in settling the conflict between RI and GAM. Indonesia's disappointment arose after GAM sent a letter to HDC, saying that it intended to reschedule the implementation of the Joint Council Meeting (JCM). GAM set the condition that the meeting should be held in Geneva, Switzerland. As differences of opinion between the government and GAM became increasingly more acute, in May 2003 the CoHA was declared a failure and was no longer maintained.

Now a new round of negotiation has begun with CMI acting as the mediator. Will this negotiation result be the best for the Acehnese, who are now mired in misery?

Fajar W.H. (Reuters,,


The Jakarta Post
Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Acehnese Demand More Inclusive Talks
By Nani Afrida and Apriadi Gunawan, Banda Aceh/Medan

Prominent Aceh figures and scholars appeared lukewarm on Tuesday about the recent peace talks between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Helsinki, saying that the talks were "elitist".

They suggested that the two sides should include other constituencies in Aceh in the next peace talks scheduled to be held in the near future as no Indonesian or GAM leaders were capable of representing the Acehnese people.

"They held talks for around three years and they resulted in nothing but violence. They have to change the strategy. They must involve other elements so as to elicit more views about the solution to the conflict," said scholar Syaifudin Bantasyam.

Acehnese academics have long being saying that inclusive talks were necessary to increase the credibility and legitimacy of the peace talks, thus making them better able to bring about a permanent peace in the province.

Peace negotiations between the Indonesia government and GAM leaders in Sweden began in 2001 but failed to produce peace as both sides refused to budge from their predetermined positions. The failure of the negotiations led to violence in May 2003 when the Indonesian government launched a major offensive against GAM.

After more than a year and a half of conflict, the tsunami disaster of Dec. 26 last year provided a window of opportunity for both sides to resume talks, but the two days of discussions last week in Helsinki failed to produce a breakthrough, except for a promise that both sides would meet again in the near future for another round of negotiations.

In a separate development, the chairman of the Medan-based Aceh Sepakat organization, Fauzi Usman, said that the tsunami disaster, which killed about 130,000 Acehnese, should have prompted the two sides to come to their senses.

Aceh Legal Aid Institute coordinator Rufriadi added that what mattered now was how to encourage the two sides to give up their entrenched positions and instead focus more on promoting the prosperity of Aceh.

"They need to highlight the humanitarian issues going on right here and now. Aceh needs a cease-fire, a humanitarian pause. Afterwards, they can start talking about resolving the conflict from the political point of view," he said.

Although the Acehnese had little to say in public about the failed talks, Rufriadi said he believed that most Acehnese must have been hoping the negotiations would be fruitful.

"I believe they do care, but perhaps they don't expect a lot this time around after the previous series of failed negotiations," he said.

Abbas, a civil servant in the resource-rich province, merely said, "Let them negotiate, we don't care. Right now what we care about is how to survive and get over the trauma of losing our loved ones," he said.


Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Indonesia Army Won't Disrupt Govt Peace Talks With Rebels

Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Feb. 2 (AP)--Indonesia's powerful military said Wednesday it would not disrupt government efforts to forge a peace deal with separatist rebels in tsunami-hit Aceh province.

Armed forces chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto also claimed the military is sticking to an earlier pledge to cease armed offensives against the rebels despite continued clashes there.

"We are no longer carrying out offensive actions," Sutarto told reporters.

He said the recent peace talks between the government and the rebels are a "political decision in which the military had no authority to interfere in."

Sutarto is on a visit to Banda Aceh where Indonesian soldiers are involved in a massive relief operation to help the victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami.

The rebels have been fighting since 1976 for an independent state in Aceh, where more than 100,000 people died in the tsunami and about 400,000 others were left homeless.

Last week, rebel negotiators and government representatives held talks in Finland to consider cementing an informal cease-fire declared by both sides after the tsunami aimed at easing the distribution of aid in the province. The meeting ended inconclusively, but both sides said negotiations will resume later this month.

Sporadic clashes in the oil- and gas-rich province have continued since the tsunami. The military claims to have killed more than 200 alleged rebels. The guerillas say that most of those killed were innocent villagers.

Despite the killings, Sutarto said the focus of the some 30,000 troops deployed in Aceh was "still humanitarian."

An earlier truce collapsed in 2003, when hard-line generals arrested rebel negotiators, kicked out international observers and launched an offensive that has killed more than 2,500 people.

Hardline sections of the military, which despite being nominally under civilian control still wields enormous influence in the running of the country, are known to oppose any fresh peace moves with the rebels.

Human rights groups have accused the Indonesian army of executions, disappearances, torture and collective punishment of civilians. They say most of the victims of the fighting have been villagers caught up in army sweeps. The rebels, believed to number around 5,000 poorly armed fighters, have also been accused of atrocities.


The Jakarta Post
Thursday, February 3, 2005

Experts suggest government share power with GAM
By Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta

The government should offer a power-sharing arrangement to the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in governing oil and gas-rich Aceh as part of an effort to end the decades-long conflict in the province, a number of experts have said.

Head of the Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University's Center for Security and Peace Studies, Syamsu Panggabean, said that such a conflict resolution model had been adopted to settle protracted conflicts in other countries, such as between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front, and between the British government and Northern Ireland separatists.

"Clearly, there will have to be power sharing," Panggabean told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He said that the government and GAM leaders should hold a series of talks to devise a mechanism by which power sharing could be implemented.

"Settling the conflict in Aceh is possible. What both sides must do is to be serious in the negotiations, meaning they must listen and consider each other's demands instead of forcing the other side to accept their proposals," he said.

Recent talks between the government and GAM's exiled leaders in Helsinki ended inconclusively, although a number of officials from both sides said they intended to meet again in the "near future", possibly this month, to discuss ways of ending the conflict, which has killed tens of thousands people. The latest peace negotiations have been facilitated by the Finnish Crisis Management Initiative (CMI).

But Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo AS has insisted that any future talks with GAM must be based on the concept that Aceh remains part of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia, albeit with special autonomy.

Smita Notosusanto, who heads the Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro), agreed with Panggabean, suggesting that the government allow GAM members to stand in local elections.

"Both sides have their reasons for continuing the conflict in Aceh, which is rich in natural resources. But, basically it's about power. Why doesn't the government allow GAM members to participate in elections?" she asked.

Elections would serve as a good tool for both sides to prove their respective commitments to ending the conflict, Smita said.

By participating in elections, GAM could prove its claim that it is supported by most Acehnese, while at the same time Aceh would be maintained as part of Indonesia.

On the other hand, the government would be able to prove to the Acehnese that they will be allowed to fully enjoy the special autonomy they have been granted.

"I personally think that GAM members would not hesitate to stand for election as regents. If they refused, they would only confirm their position as criminals. Only elections would be capable of confirming their claims to public support," Smita said.

Unlike local elections in other provinces and regencies in the country, the Aceh Special Autonomy Law (No. 18/2001) allows independent candidates to stand in regental or gubernatorial elections. The Aceh legislative council has also issued local regulations on the issue, Smita said.

GAM has been fighting for independence since 1976. Both the government and GAM had earlier produced a series of agreements to stop the conflict in Aceh on a temporary basis, but they failed to bring about a binding peace.

The most recent truce between the government and GAM was the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, which was signed in 2002. It collapsed in 2003, and martial law was quickly imposed in the province. This has since been toned down to a state of civil emergency.


Reuters ~ AlertNet
February 3, 2005

Crisis Profile: Deadlock in Indonesia's Aceh Conflict
By Katherine Arie

Just weeks after the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami left over 230,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia's Aceh province, a decades-old conflict between government forces and Acehnese separatists flared up once again.

Even on the day after the tsunami, government forces launched military operations that killed four members of Aceh's separatist movement. Since the disaster, the government says it has killed some 200 separatists.

But the sheer scale of the tsunami tragedy softened hearts, and in late January 2005 representatives of the Indonesian government and rebel leaders met face to face in Helsinki for the first peace talks in nearly two years.

The government and rebels had reached a deal in 2003, but it collapsed in part over the sticky issue of autonomy. Shortly thereafter, the government launched a massive military offensive and imposed a state of emergency.

The Helsinki talks in January, while cordial, failed to make a breakthrough and a settlement remains elusive. According to political analysts, neitherside is willing to give any ground. They say the separatists will accept nothing less than independence while Jakarta has no intention of giving up the resource-rich province.

What are the origins of the separatist movement in Aceh?
The Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM), or the Free Aceh Movement, began in 1976 when founder Hasan di Tiro initiated an armed struggle against Jakarta and declared Aceh's independence. Fierce reaction from government troopsforced de Tiro and other GAM leaders to flee to Sweden, where they live to this day.

GAM's main grievances include economic and social issues, Indonesian military heavy handedness in suppressing resistance, as well as the more fundamental and deep-rooted issue of nationalism.

Why nationalism? But aren't the people of Aceh Indonesian?
Acehnese don't consider themselves Indonesian, a fact GAM uses as justification for the insurgency and as fodder for popularising its cause.

GAM maintains that Jakarta is an occupying power in Aceh, and that the Acehnese people are culturally and linguistically different from other Indonesians.

The Acehnese language is related to modern Malay languages, which include most other languages in Indonesia -- Indonesian, Javanese, and Balinese -- but it also has clear ties to Chamic languages, which are primarily found in southern Vietnam.

This concept of Acehnese distinctiveness is key to understanding how Acehnese people see themselves vis-a-vis other Indonesians. Acehnese identity was largely formed in the 16th century, when Aceh, then an independent sultanate, emerged as a crucial player in the southeast Indian Ocean trade.

Trade brought the Acehnese into contact with fellow Muslim traders from present day India, the Arabian peninsula and as far away as the Ottoman empire. On the other hand, Aceh's relationship with traditional Indonesians, in particular the Javanese, Indonesia's largest ethnic group was limited despite their proximity.

How has Aceh's identity influenced its history?
The development of Acehnese identity helped to reinforce a feisty resistance to foreign domination over the past two centuries.

Aceh has a proud history of fending off outsiders, including repeated invasions by Dutch colonisers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

After World War Two, when Aceh was briefly occupied by Japan, control of the province fell to the newly independent Java-based state of Indonesia.

In the 1950s, Acehnese pro-Islamic rebels challenged the secular, central government in Jakarta, winning autonomy in religious, educational and cultural matters in 1959. To this day, practicing Muslims in Aceh are more orthodox than most other Indonesians.

GAM has used Aceh's reputation for throwing off the yoke of foreign domination as a rallying cry since the 1970s.

How popular is the separatist movement?
While most Acehnese support the insurgency in general, it is debatable whether there is widespread support for GAM, and many people do not find its historical arguments wholly persuasive.

Sympathy for the separatist movement has waxed and waned over the years.

At different times Acehnese civilians have blamed GAM and its guerrilla tactics -- the destruction of schools, government institutions and powerlines, kidnappings and hijackings -- for the brutal crackdowns visited upon them by military forces, although there is evidence that violence perpetrated by the military, especially in recent years, has spurred calls for independence.

The perception that Jakarta is exploiting the region feeds deep resentment. Aceh provides 15 to 20 percent Indonesia's gas and oil output but it remains one of the country's poorest provinces. That Aceh has not reaped obvious benefits from its vast natural resources is a point of contention that has been discussed in peace negotiations over the years.

What is the humanitarian situation in Aceh now?

Post-tsunami, the humanitarian situation in Aceh has never been more dire. The tsunami destroyed scores of villages and ruined infrastructure. Overall damage estimates have topped $4.4 billion.

More than 400,000 people have been left homeless and are at risk of disease, particularly measles and malaria. Survivors of the disaster are psychologically traumatised, and doctors estimate that some 90 percent will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder.

Even before the tsunami disaster, conflict had taken its toll. Much of the province's infrastructure was dysfunctional. Back in 2003, following the massive government offensive, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned that the population would not be able to rely on the already weak health services.

To make matters worse, thousands of civilians were caught in the crossfire between GAM fighters and military forces. Since the early 1990s, human rights groups have documented serious human rights violations and abuses by both sides.

Aid has poured in to the devastated province, and the task of rebuilding has begun. Here, at least, the Indonesian government and GAM have the same goal. Even so, it looks unlikely that negotiators will ultimately find common ground.

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