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UPDATED: 18:27, August 15, 2005
Chronology of important events in Indonesia's Aceh
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Following is the chronology of important events in Indonesia's Aceh Province:

Dec. 4, 1976: A group of community leaders forms "Gerakan Aceh Merdeka" (GAM), or the Free Aceh Movement, led by Hasan Tiro, a descendant of the sultans of Aceh, and declares independence.

1989- August 1998: President Soeharto imposes the Military Operation Area, known as DOM by the Indonesian acronym, to crush rebellion in Aceh.

Aug. 7, 1998: Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief General Wiranto ends the DOM status in Aceh three months after Soeharto stepped down and was replaced by his deputy Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie.

March 1999: President Habibie visits Aceh and apologizes for atrocities committed by the military, promising the release of political prisoners in the province.

Sep. 22, 1999: the House of Representatives (DPR) passes law on Aceh special autonomy, which grants the province with the right to apply the Islamic law (Sharia).

May 12, 2000: The Henry Dunant Centre (HDC) brokers talks between the government under President Abdurrahman Wahid and GAM representatives in Geneva, resulting in the Joint Agreement on a Humanitarian Pause in Aceh.

January 2001: HDC again arranges a meeting for both parties in Geneva discussing free elections in Aceh.

March 2001: Amid continued armed clashes in Aceh, the Indonesian cabinet officially pronounces GAM as a separatist movement.

Feb. 2-3, 2002: President Megawati Soekarnoputri makes efforts to resume talks with GAM.

May 8-9, 2002: The government and GAM meet in Geneva and agree further talks on special autonomy status for Aceh and humanitarian assistance.

Aug. 19, 2002: The government gives GAM three months to cease fire and accept special autonomy.

Dec. 9, 2002: The government and GAM sign the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) in a meeting brokered by the HDC. Under the COHA, the Indonesian Military must abort offensive and move into defensive position and GAM members put their weapons into storage. The Joint Security Committee (JSC) is formed to monitor peace process, comprising representatives from both parties and an independent team consisting of officers from Thailand and the Philippines.

April 8, 2003: President Megawati accuses GAM of failing to disarm and orders the military to prepare for an offensive in Aceh.

April 28, 2003: The government gives a two-week ultimatum to GAM to end resistance and accept the special autonomy under the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. GAM refuses to do so.

May 2003: The United States, Japan and the European Union urge the Indonesian government and GAM to avoid armed clashes and extend peace talks in Tokyo.

My 16, 2003: The government reiterates that special autonomy is the final solution, otherwise GAM will face military offensive. GAM negotiators do not respond to the demand on grounds that their mates were arrested in Aceh on their way to Tokyo.

May 19, 2003: President Megawati imposes martial law in Aceh and declares military emergency for a six-month period. The government has deployed around 30,000 soldiers and 12,000 police officers to Aceh and the offensive commences. It is Indonesia's biggest military operation since the military deployment in East Timor in 1976.

Nov. 6, 2003: Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono confirms the martial law is extended with monthly evaluation for further decisions whether the military operation is extended or shortened.

May, 2004: Military emergency is changed into civil emergency.

Dec. 26, 2004: An earthquake-triggered tsunami swept through the coastal areas of Aceh, including capital Banda Aceh, and killed at least 150,000 people and left many more homeless.

Jan. 19, 2005: Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda says the government will resume talks with GAM to fully restore security and political stability in the tsunami-stricken province.

Jan. 28-30, 2005: The government and GAM begin a new round of talks in Helsinki brokered by the Finland-based Crisis Management Initiative.

February, 2005: The second round of talks is held in Helsinki with GAM demanding self-rule and an exclusive political party in Aceh.

April 12, 2005: Another meeting is held in Helsinki between the government and GAM.

May 18, 2005: Emergency status in Aceh is changed into a normal civilian order to create a favorable circumstance for post- disaster reconstruction program in Aceh.

Source: Xinhua

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