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Muhammad Hassan di Tiro
Born August 25, 1925 (1925-08-25) (age 84)
Place of birth Aceh, Indonesia
Allegiance Free Aceh Movement (GAM)
Years of service December 4, 1976 – December 27, 2005
Battles/wars Insurgency in Aceh

Muhammad Hassan di Tiro, born August 25, 1925 (1925-08-25) (age 84), is the founder of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), an organization which attempted to separate Aceh from Indonesia from the 1970s. It surrendered its separatist goals and was disarmed as agreed to in the Helsinki peace deal of 2005. He is a grandson of Tengku Cik di Tiro, an Indonesian national hero who was killed fighting the Dutch in 1891.[1][2 ]



Coming from a prominent family, with blood links to former Aceh sultans[3], from village of Tiro (Pidie Regency), di Tiro studied in Yogyakarta before proceeding to pursue further studies in United States, where he did part-time work for Indonesian Mission to the United Nations. While a student in New York in 1953, he declared himself the "foreign minister" of the rebellious Darul Islam movement[4], which in Aceh was led by Daud Bereueh. Due to this action, he was immediately stripped of his Indonesian citizenship, causing him to be imprisoned for a few months on Ellis Island as illegal alien.[4] The Darul Islam rebellion in Aceh itself ended in a peace deal in 1962.[5] Under the peace deal Aceh was granted autonomy.[6]

Creating GAM

Di Tiro re-appeared in Aceh in 1974, where he applied for a pipeline contract in the new Mobil Oil gas plant to be built in Lhokseumawe area. He was outbid by Bechtel, in a tender process in which di Tiro thought the central government had too much control. As result of this loss, and the death of his brother due to what he considered to be deliberate neglect by a doctor of Javanese ethnicity, di Tiro began organising an separatist movement using his old Darul Islam contacts.

He declared his organisation as the Free Aceh Movement ("Gerakan Aceh Merdeka") on December 4, 1976. Amongst its goals was the total independence of Aceh from Indonesia. Di Tiro chose independence as one of GAM's goals instead of autonomy due to his focus on Acehnese ethnic-nationalism, as opposed to the former Darul Islam rebellion who seek to overthrow the secular Pancasila ideology of Indonesia and create a pan-Indonesian Islamic state based on sharia. In his "Declaration of Independence", he questioned Indonesia's right to exist as it was a multi-cultural nation consisting of multitudes of ethnicities with little in common except a common history of Dutch colonialism. As such, the Acehnese ethnic-group, who according to him was superior due to their particularly strong resistance to Dutch colonialism, should be separate from the "fraudulent" state of Indonesia and revert to its independence status as prior to the Dutch invasion of 1873.[7]

Due to this new focus on ethnic-chauvinism, GAM's major activities mostly consisted of attacking non-Acehnese in an effort to cleanse Aceh from other ethnic groups, particularly the Javanese people.[8]

In 1977, after leading a GAM attack in which one American engineer was killed and another American and South Korean engineer injured[4][2 ], Hasan Tiro was hunted by Indonesian military. He was shot in the leg in a military ambush, and fled to Malaysia. [8][4]

Since 1980 he has lived in Stockholm, Sweden, and has Swedish citizenship.[1][9] After the tsunami of 2004 the GAM and the Indonesian government agreed to a peace treaty in which more autonomy for Aceh was accepted by di Tiro and his followers. In October 2008, after 30 years of exile, di Tiro returned to the Indonesian province of Aceh.[10 ][11]

During the course of the conflict, the Indonesian government mistakenly declared that Hasan had died three times.[12]

Return to Aceh

When he returned to Aceh after 30 years of exile at 83 he was too frail even to deliver his own speech at his welcome rally. As such it is doubtful he will play a part in Aceh ongoing political process.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Hasan Tiro visits Aceh's hero graves" (HTML). The Jakarta Post. Sun, 10/12/2008 11:16 AM. Retrieved 2008-10-12. "Sunday schedule was a visit to the grave of Tiro's ancestor Tengku Cik Di Tiro, a national hero"  
  2. ^ a b Marianne Heiberg, Brendan O'Leary, and John Tirman, Editors. Terror, Insurgency, and State: Ending Protracted Conflicts (2007 ed.). p. 512. ISBN 9780812220292.  
  3. ^ a b "What role for returning Aceh rebel?" (HTML). BBC News. 07:08 GMT, Sunday, 12 October 2008 08:08 UK. Retrieved 2008-10-12. "Hasan di Tiro has it all - nationalist credentials, a blood line to Aceh's old sultan and 30 years of exile that have kept him apart from the new party politics."  
  4. ^ a b c d Kenneth Conboy. Kopassus: Inside Indonesia's Special Forces (November 16, 2002 ed.). Equinox Publishing. p. 352. ISBN 9799589886.  
  5. ^ Cornelius van Dijk (Author). Rebellion under the Banner of Islam, the Darul Islam in Indonesia. (1981 ed.). Martinus Nijhoff.  
  6. ^ Michael L.Ross (2007). "Resources and Rebellion in Aceh , Indonesia" (PDF). The World Bank. Retrieved 2008-10-11.  
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Hasan di Tiro: Acehnese Terrorist" (HTML). Wed Dec 19 1990 - 14:17:00 EST. Retrieved 2008-10-12.  
  9. ^ "Aceh's Gam separatists" (HTML). BBC News. Monday, 24 January, 2005, 14:46 GMT. Retrieved 2008-10-11.  
  10. ^ "Exiled Aceh leader returns" (HTML). aljazeera. Saturday, October 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-11.  
  11. ^ "Aceh guerrilla leader flies home" (HTML). BBC News. 04:46 GMT, Saturday, 11 October 2008 05:46 UK. Retrieved 2008-10-12.  
  12. ^ "HEAD OF STATE OF ACHEH-SUMATRA" (HTML). asnlf. 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-12.  


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