Monday, February 19, 2001
This wonderful vignette is from the Times Literary Supplement, but it will probably be gone in a couple of weeks as they don't keep articles for long.

Earlier this year, I went to see the dirty little separatist war that is consuming Aceh. On one sweltering afternoon, after going through the requisite labyrinthine arrangements to meet up with rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (or GAM in Indonesian), I found myself in a tiny jungle clearing. What followed was the increasingly common scene of foreign-journalist-meets-GAM: the ritualistic raising of the rebel flag, the posing with their weapons, the interviews on why they are at war with Indonesia, and the tales of torture and death at the hands of the Indonesian army.

They answered all my questions, but they were sorely disappointed I had come without a camera crew. "We need to get our war on CNN and then the UN will intervene", explained the group's leader, a thirty-four-year-old wearing a baseball cap and dark sunglasses. In GAM's convoluted logic, first comes CNN, then the UN and then independence. "If East Timor can do it, why not Aceh?" the rebel asked.


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