Aceh, 800 troops left, as part of the peace deal. In return for the rebels
disarming, the Aceh provincial government gets to have its own flag, 70 percent
of revenue from natural resources in the province (which is rich in oil and
gas), restrictions on how many army troops can be in Aceh, and where they can
go. The national government will still have control over defense, foreign
affairs and the provincial budget. Aceh has, for centuries, been a very powerful
and independent state, which grew rich trading with Moslem merchants from
India and Arabia. Aceh finally lost its independence to Holland, which had
already colonized the rest of Indonesia, a century ago. When the Dutch left in
the 1950s, Aceh reluctantly became part of Indonesia. Separatist violence over
the last two decades got worse and worse, killing some 15,000 people. But what
really forced the current deal was the earthquake and tidal waves last December,
which left 170,000 dead, and half a million homeless. About a quarter of Aceh's
four million inhabitants lost something because of the disaster, and the shock
forced the separatists to give up their goal of independence, and settle for
September 15, 2005: In Aceh, the 3,000 armed rebels have
begun turning in their weapons. This is to be completed by the end of the year.
The rebels say they have 840 firearms, and 70 of them were turned in today.
A bomb went off in Central Sulawesi province, wounding four
people. Religious violence between Moslems and Christians has been going on for
several years, with police and army reinforcements brought in to keep the
radicals from both sides, but especially the Moslem ones, quiet.