Seminar on women, peace and security – conflict resolution with gender equity, Hanasaari the Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre, Espoo, Finland 6 June 2007

Speech by Ms Suraiya Kamaruzzaman Flower Aceh

Your Highness Queen Sonja of Norway, Ms. Tarja Halonen, The President of the Republic of finland, Mr Martti Ahtisaari, former President of the Republic of Finland.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to express my thanks to to Norway government and CMI for the opportunity to speak on this forum. My high appreciation to Mr. Ahtisaari, Ms. Paivi Cannisto, Mr. Samy and all CMI staff member who demonstrate their commitment  in mediating peace dialog and come into peace deal after 30 years of suffering conflict in Aceh.

Almost 2 year peace come to Aceh. But I feel like a dream, year ago I can’t go everywhere safely. I cant visit other district in Aceh, I must stay home after 18.00. More than 1 year Peace Brigade International  Squad member accompanied me where I went due to security reason, but since 17 August 2005 I have  been able to go where I want to without worrying. I was free to go with public transport even at day dark. I can visit Lhokseumawe, Meulaboh, Central Aceh and other district for doing workshop with women group, doing gender training, planning micro credit etc.

I would like to open my speech with a testimony by a woman from Bireun on 27th January 2007 in a workshop about form of resolve human rights violation cases in women perspective. Hosted by Women Volunteer for Humanity.

She said “My beloved husband have been arrested by military apparatus in the early 90’s and no news at all then. I have searched him in so many military post, hospital. I have looked at so many death body to ensure, the body is my husband. I have look for him everywhere up to out of the district where I lived. I was sure, he passed away, but I never saw his death body or grave. My first son have been shoot in the middle of 90’s.”

        Many of women lived under scary, threats and pressure by military apparatus camped near the mosque in our village for years. Many men run away from the village under security reasons. Most women toke over men obligations to continue the life, doing simple up to dangerous works to negotiate with military force when 14 of sons arrested by them as the response of died one soldier due to mysterious shoot. With gun at our head we did not move even an inch, unless they release our arrested son.

        Now during the “peace” time, on the meeting to discussion of reintegration distribution fund, when I was questioning the management and method of fund distribution, one of man asked me to shut up my mouth by using cruel words in Achenese language “Neu iem dron, keupeu urong inong pegah haba, nyo urusan kamu ureung agam” (in English about : woman, you must shut up your mouth, this is men business and woman don’t know anything”). I feel really sick, angry, and disappointed. I protested, and said “during the conflict men run away, we did everything including protected you all from military search. Now in the peace time, just to express my opinion I have no right”. However the protest is gone with the wind.

  Above testimony is a little evidence, how grass root women struggling for justice and democracy, alone and collectively. Higher level women group has their own struggle by bringing up human rights violations and humanitarian crimes in Aceh from the local issues to be national and international  issues.

Few written evidence to record Aceh women role in fighting for justice during 30 years of armed conflict. Many of writing material, thesis, newspaper placed Aceh women as vulnerable object. In fact they have been playing strategic role as negotiator, agent of changes. This biased image and picture of Aceh women mostly influenced by patriarch culture in Aceh,

In 2000, Aceh women hold a biggest meeting attended by 437 women represented most women group all over Aceh Province. They were housewife, lecturer, farmer, lawyer, informal worker, paramedics, medical doctors, NGO Activist, student, fisherwomen, religious leader, victim, women who are IDP”s, and businesswomen. It was Duek Pakat Inong Aceh (Aceh Women Congress), to discuss various problem in Aceh by women perspective. They tagged the congress “Krue Seumangat Ureung Inong Aceh Bak Duek Pakat Keu Aceh yg Aman, Damai ngon Ade” (Collective spirit of Aceh Women  for peace and Justice).

Under the pressure and threat to change the congress title, the committee and attendants stick to bring up Peace Theme as the central of issues. Out of the pro and contra, this congress is notified as the first congress in Aceh brought up peace and non-armed conflict resolvement. This congress stressing to resolve Aceh conflict by non-armed but  peace dialogue. Congress formulation result brought to Jakarta and presented to the President of Republic of Indonesia (H Abdurrahman Wahid) as one of frame of reference.

During May – June 2000, Aceh women group lobbied concerned parties to include women member in dialogue between GAM and Jakarta Administration as former process of Joint Understanding on Humanitarian Pause for Aceh facilitated by Henry Dunant Center.

Many of women have been threatened, pressured and jailed in build women movement, against violations and fight for peace in Aceh at the grass root level. Unfortunately, when peace effort negotiated in high level, no single women has been included as member of delegation from both side. It was happened during the peace deal process which have been signed on 15th August 2005 in Helsinki. Without reducing the great meaning of Peace Deal, no women group representative include on the both concerned parties. Guess, what happened? No single women issue included on the text of The Peace Deal.

The UN Security Council stressed the need for attention to women, peace and security in its resolution 1325, adopted in 2000. The resolution stresses the importance of women’s role in conflict prevention and resolution and highlights the need for women’s equal participation in maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

Helsinki Peace Deal, has basic weakness by ignoring a group who has significant role in efforting Aceh Peace, it was women group. Political armed conflict have been simplified as a case between Central Administration of Republic of Indonesia and GAM. Ignoring multidimensional of the armed conflict which very complicated and has huge impact toward the whole Aceh People.

Next big and heavy home work is Aceh conflict reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation. Many of supporting institution have been formed to easy manage of reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation process. However, again Aceh Women group must work harder to fight their basic right. Ref to the organization structure of BRA (Aceh Reintegration Body) signed on 23rd April 2007 by NAD Governor among 43 member they only placed 3 women. KPA (Aceh Transition Committee) has no single women as the member of committee. This situation caused women voice have been ignored.

In the list of compensation fund receiver for GAM ex-combatant, there are 3,000 name but no single women GAM ex-combatant listed. The whole world aware since 2000 GAM frequently used this Inong Balee (GAM Women Soldier) to show their effort have been supported by Aceh Women Group. But in the peace time, this women ex-combatant ignored.

Aceh women group never stop to organizes themselves, through JpuK-Jaringan Perempuan untuk Kebijakan (Women network for policy making) a group of women doing political work by advocating the process of Aceh Bill up to being enacted to be LoGA (Law of government of Aceh) Act. No. 11/2006. This group has been also advocating the canon making. JPuD – Jaringan Perempuan utuk Perdamaian (Women network for Peace) focused on the campaign of sustainable peace building and GWG (Gender Working Group) as the central of monitoring of policy during reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation process in Aceh, to ensure of include gender perspective in all respects.

Aceh women shown their glory, by answering the challenge not by sitting, but they worked so hard, with all tear drops and blood. In the peace time, all intellectual women resource have been put on to improve women graciousness.

But watch out, what the meaning of Peace Deal for women group in the small villages, in the middle of forest, in the leg of mountain, they got nothing from the current peace. The most difficult is to reconcile themselves with the dark of past time, with the sick and injured, with the anger and disappointment. But life must go on, women group have been in heavy struggling to survive, they have to find just food, paying their children’s school fee. Very little of them know what is Peace Deal what is Helsinki MOU and what is in it, they don’t realize the Helsinki MOU will drive their destiny, their live but they never been asked, never been included what they wants, what they wish.

Most of Aceh grass root women, has single advantage on the Peace Time, they can speak out, even  no body listening. They can talk, even nobody answering. Its time to listen their voice before change to be whisper and they get tired and keep quiet. We have to give them correct answer, otherwise one day we will see Aceh women just an object and life like mummy.


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