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Thousands flood into Banda Aceh to commemorate peace

Detik.com - August 14, 2006

Banda Aceh – Thousands of people from various regions of Aceh have began arriving in Banda Aceh to commemorated one year since the Helsinki agreement that falls on August 15 tomorrow. They plan to hold a peaceful action and joint prayers in at several locations in Banda Aceh.

One group coordinated by the Acehnese Civilian Organisation Joint Committee is also planning to submit the Acehnese people's version of a Draft Law on Aceh Governance to the Indonesian government, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the European Union.

According to one of the committee members, Faisal Rida, the aim of the peaceful action is to call for the Aceh Governance Law to be brought into line with the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The joint committee comprises 50 civil organisations in Aceh including the Aceh Referendum Information Center (SIRA), GeRAK Aceh (Aceh Anti-corruption Movement) and the Ar-Raniry State Institute of Islamic Studies Forum of Student Executive Councils. "We hope this action will not be tainted by precisely those things that will damage peace", he said.

Since this morning, the protesters have been arriving from areas outside of Banda Aceh including the Ar-Raniry State Institute of Islamic Studies, the Syah Kuala University, Kopelma Darussalam Mosque as well as several other locations in Banda Aceh such as Setui, Ajuen, the Bangsa Lhong Raya Stadium and the Lam Peuneurut area. The majority came wearing headbands reading "Save the Helsinki MoU".

Tomorrow they plan to hold an action at the official event being held the Ulee Lheu area that will be attended by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, former Finish President Martti Ahtisaari and GAM leaders from Aceh and overseas. (mar)

[Translated by James Balowski.]