Country Listing

Indonesia Table of Contents



Aceh is the westernmost part of Sumatra and the part of Indonesia where the Islamic character of the population is the most pronounced. The Acehnese demand for autonomy, expressed in support for the 1950s Darul Islam rebellion, was partially met by the central government's acceptance of a "special region" status for the province in 1959, allowing a higher-than-usual official Indonesian respect for Islamic law and custom (see The National Revolution, 1945-49 , ch. 1). This special region status, together with growing prosperity, brought Aceh into the Indonesian mainstream. This change was reflected in the growing support among Acehnese for the central government, as indicated by votes for Golkar in national elections. In 1971, Golkar won 49 percent of the region's vote; in 1977, 41 percent; and in 1982, 37 percent. By 1987, however, with 51.8 percent of the vote, Golkar obtained its first majority, increasing it in 1992 to 57 percent. Nevertheless, during the early 1990s, the idea of an independent Islamic state was kept alive by the Free Aceh (Aceh Merdeka) movement, known to the central government as the Aceh Security Disturbance Movement (GPK). Thought to have been crushed in the mid-1970s, the guerrilla campaign of the insurgents, under the leadership of European-based Hasan di Tiro and with Libyan support, renewed its hit-and-run warfare in the late 1980s, hoping to build on economic and social grievances as well as on Islamism. ABRI reacted with crushing force and, as it sought to root out the separatists, civil-military relations were imperiled. But moderately pro-Golkar 1992 election results suggested there was no widespread alienation in Aceh.

Data as of November 1992